By Vivek Gurumoorthy
For many years, police forces around the U.S.A. and around the world have been cracking down on the use and distribution of drugs. In fact, in several areas, drugs have been the primary source of crime. Of the many illegal drugs that law enforcement has taken action against, marijuana has recently been a hot topic. Being a drug with both positive and negative effects, many opinions exist on both sides: whether marijuana should be legal or not. In the states of Colorado and Washington, this debate came to a head and culminated in the legalization of marijuana. This officially came into effect as of January 1st, 2014, and now, marijuana is readily available to consumers in these areas. However, the fact that marijuana is an addictive substance that can be hurtful and the recent increases in marijuana usage by teens are evidence that these legalizations have had a detrimental effect on these states.
Much of the debate about whether marijuana should be legal or not has stemmed from the positive medicinal properties that marijuana has. Through the developments of civilization, marijuana was often used as a staple healing drug, and recent studies have shown that it can be used in treatments for some of today’s diseases. For example, several studies designed to show the effects of marijuana in chemotherapy have been conducted, one specifically by the New York State Journal of Medicine. The study tested the effect of smoked marijuana when used as an antiemetic, or a drug to prevent nausea, when normal antiemetics couldn’t eliminate their symptoms. Seventy-eight percent of patients tested showed that they were positively influenced by this usage of marijuana. Therefore, from these studies, marijuana has shown a positive in certain medical cases. Although this may be true, marijuana has negative effects on the human body and has introduced many teenagers to drugs very early in their lives.
Every drug has some negative effects, and can be abused if used irresponsibly. Marijuana is no different. One well-known effect of many drugs is the “high” that comes from using them. Marijuana affects the endocannabinoid system of the brain that is associated with the senses and concentration, which is why high people do not have good awareness of their surroundings. Additionally, marijuana stimulates the heart to beat faster, increasing a user’s chance of cardiac arrest. Finally, marijuana is addictive, and if one gets addicted to it, they will constantly put themselves at risk of being affected by the above symptoms. Thus, marijuana is detrimental to the human body when used to get “high”.
In many schools, drug use often involves children peer-pressuring others into trying new things such as drugs and alcohol. With legalization of marijuana, this use of abusive substances in teenage years is growing steadily. Now businesses are opening doling out marijuana-infused brownies and cookies. Accessibility of the drug has skyrocketed. When harmful substances like marijuana are legalized, it gives many kids the false idea that drugs aren’t really bad for them, using to more use and subsequent abuse. Data was taken on marijuana usage of 12-17 year olds in Denver, and has already climbed from 9.62 to 12.2% in the span of 2006-2010, before marijuana was even legalized. This compares from the miniscule increase in the US average in the same time period, just 6-6.6%. Also, in many fatal car accidents, drivers are being found under the influence of drugs like marijuana. Lastly, marijuana is known as a gateway drug, as usage of marijuana could easily lead kids to use very harmful drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
In all, though marijuana may have a use in specific medical practices, it is harmful in the hands of ordinary people, and its legalization has given rise to more accessibility of drugs, increased drug usage, and a more likely possibility of kids progressing to more detrimental drugs. Hence, marijuana legalization has had negative effect on the states in which it was instilled, and the prospect of more legalization proposes risks to US citizens in other states.
By Vivek Gurumoorthy
Today’s medical field is perpetually advancing. Breakthroughs come out in medical research, cures, and discoveries, as scientists find new ways to combat disease and facilitate care for patients. One of such new ideas, a concept that is capable of revolutionizing modern medical care, is the use of stem cells. Stem cells are capable of differentiating themselves into needed types of cells. This essentially helps to combat many different ailments. However, many now debate whether culturing cells kills human life. Some contend that harnessing stem cells could do wonders for sick patients, while others argue that it could kill developing life. This ethical dilemma is what makes stem cells such a controversial topic in the modern day.
Diseases and sicknesses within the human body always start at the cellular level. Old and worn out cells that do not function adequately become cancerous, infected cells that affect all those around them. This is the exact problem that stem cells aim to solve. Stem cells involve the replacement of worn or cancerous cells to improve the state of important tissues of the body. Additionally, if multiple specific cells are needed, the proliferation of many stem cells is highly possible. Millions of functional cells can be produced by this repeated cell division. The produced cells can then differentiate into the required or desired type. Doctors are given the power to pick and choose the type of cell they need a stem cell to be, specializing it with a specific function. Stem cells open the door to innovative cures for diabetes and heart disease treatments, changing the way doctors treat and look at patients.
Furthermore, there are a few different types of stem cells, including embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. All of these cells are cultured from a young blastocyst cell so that they can be used to help patients. Embryonic stem cells are those taken from actual human embryos that are not fetuses. These cells are pluripotent, meaning that they have the capacity to differentiate into any type of cell. Adult stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can only differentiate into certain types of tissues. These are used for retaining healthy conditions for tissues and repairing damaged tissue. Recently, new ideas and discoveries have led to the study of adult stem cells used for transplants.
One potential problem with stem cells is the possibility of their rejection by a patient’s body. Adult stem cells ultimately have less potential to be rejected by the patient’s body. However, the culturing of embryonic cells is an easier process than that of adult cells. This culturing process of embryonic stem cells is what brings up the ethical debate on stem cells.
Scientists culture fertilized human egg cells and utilize their embryo for embryonic stem cells. This is what the topic of controversy in stem cell research has centered around. Some believe that culturing this cell destroys and kills a potential human life. In reality, fertilized egg cells are just parts that make up the human body and the culturing of these cells does not kill a separate human life. It only takes a small part of a donor’s body and helps patients with it. In addition, with the discovery of new IPSCs (Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells), already differentiated cells of humans can be influenced back into a near-embryonic state. From there, differentiation of these cells to different types can be applied to areas that specific patients need. Therefore, the culturing of embryonic stem cells does not endanger human life.
Thus, the medical potential of stem cells is endless. They can cure disease, repair damaged cells, and replace cancerous or infected cells. Stem cells, though thought to potentially kill human embryos, merely take parts of cells that make up the human body from donors to help others. Fully capable of revolutionizing today’s medical field, stem cells are an important tool that should be used in medical practices and will help to advance society as a whole.