Legal Marijuana Substitutes

In an effort to avoid legal issues, many people are looking for legal marijuana substitutes. There are such products available, and are referred to in various ways, including legal marijuana legal bud, and K2. For the purpose of this article, the term K2 products will be used.

K2 products go by brand names such as Spice, Blonde, SolidSex, Amazonian Shelter, Orisha, Summit, Thai Dream, and Ultra. These are some of the more recognizable ones, but there are other brand names out there.

Many K2 products have been treated with synthetic chemicals. The two most commonly used are JWH-018, which is scientifically known as 1-Pentyl-3-(1-naphthoyl,) and JWH-0731-Butyl-3-(1-naphthoyl) indole. There can be others, but again, these are the used by most K2 product manufacturers.

These synthetic chemicals (synthetic means it is man-made, or artificial, if you prefer) have the propensity to cause the same sensations and feelings that marijuana does. That is because the same receptors in the brain that respond to the THC(tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana also respond to these synthetic chemicals. The result is, or can be, very similar to that of smoking marijuana.

Like marijuana, these chemicals can affect people differently. Some people may feel effects while others dont.

There are a few K2 incense products that do not contain any synthetic chemicals; rather, the herbs or botanicals used in the mixture may produce sensations of their own in some people. One of the products that do not contain synthetic chemicals is Epimedium. Its more common name is Horny Goat Weed. That ingredient is found in the SolidSex brand of K2 herb products and similar brands.

These products are sold as incense products, and that is their ONLY intended use. The products can be cut or chopped to resemble regular cigarette, cigar, or pipe tobacco or crushed or chopped to resemble tea leaves. They can even be ground so that they have the appearance of coffee grounds or a fine powder. One particular product-Amazonian Shelter-comes in liquid form and Thai Dream comes pre-measured in capsules just like the ones used to hold medication or vitamin or herbal supplements.

No matter which form the K2 smoke products come in, again, their only intended use is as incense. The products can be heated in incense or potpourri burners, and the aroma and essences allowed to permeate the area, or placed in boiling water so that the steam will be released into the room.

The liquid K2 product can be poured into a container and wooden reeds suspended into the liquid. The reeds will absorb the aroma and disperse it throughout the room. Or it can be added to boiling water so that the essences can be detected more easily.

Burning K2 products releases the aromas and essences that are unique to each product. Just like incense, the room is filled with the fragrant smoke or steam that is produced by the heating process. Anyone in the area, or entering the area, will be able to smell the product.

Depending on the herbs and botanicals used, the aroma may have a citrusy scent, a spicy scent, or a combination of both. Some K2 products may have a heavier floral scent while others will have an earthier or woodsy smell to them.

Again, K2 products are intended for use as incense. No one should smoke, eat, drink, inhale or otherwise introduce K2 products into the body except for that which is absorbed through breathing the aroma and being in contact with the smoke or steam.

As with all incense products, proper fire safeguards should be taken. All flames should be extinguished and products should not be left smoldering. Care should be taken if it is necessary to handle heated product, as it may still be hot, even if the heat source has been removed.

Legalization Of Marijuana

Policymakers in the United States claim that marijuana use is hazardous, often leading to the use of more potent drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. As of 2000, eight states had passed laws allowing seriously ill patients to take marijuana as a prescription pain-control substance. However, people who grow, buy, or use the drug for such purposes can be arrested and prosecuted under federal law.

Marijuana is the product of Cannabis sativa, a hemp plant, and it refers specifically to the plant’s leaves and flowers. Used for centuries as a painkiller, it has become popular as a recreational drug that produces a general feeling of well-being. Marijuana is known by a variety of alternative names—including marihuana, pot, weed, and grass. It is illegal in most countries, although some nations have lowered the penalties for owning or using small amounts of the drug. Movements have formed to legalize marijuana, at least for medical purposes, but critics of such efforts argue that the drug does more harm than good.

Usually dried, crushed, and smoked in pipes or hand-rolled cigarettes, marijuana can also be consumed in food or drink. Users may experience both physical and psychological effects. Physical effects range from red eyes and dry mouth to an increased heart rate and loss of coordination. Some effects—including relief from pain and nausea, increased appetite, and reduced muscle spasms—are considered beneficial for medical conditions such as cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis.
Psychological effects may involve hallucinations, impaired judgment, and mood swings. Some studies have linked marijuana use to short-term memory problems. Although marijuana does not cause physical addiction, users can develop a psychological dependence on the drug.

A treaty called the International Opium Convention of 1925 was the first attempt to control the international trade in marijuana. In the years that followed, many countries passed laws against growing, selling, possessing, or using marijuana. In the United States, the possession and use of marijuana was declared illegal in 1937. Marijuana is currently regulated under the Controlled Substances Act, part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse and Control Act of 1970. This federal law classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, which means that it has no safe medical use and a high potential for abuse. Despite these regulations, marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in the country. In 2000, about 14 million Americans were current users of illicit, or illegal drugs, and 76 percent of them reported using marijuana, according to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse.

Some European countries have decriminalized the use of marijuana, regarding the drug as no more harmful than cigarettes and alcohol. Policymakers in the United States, by contrast, claim that marijuana is hazardous, often leading to the use of more potent drugs such as cocaine and heroin. As of 2000, eight states had passed laws allowing seriously ill patients to take marijuana as a prescription pain-control substance. However, people who grow, buy, or use the drug for such purposes can be arrested and prosecuted under federal law. Some argue that permitting marijuana to be used for medical purposes would lead to an increase in recreational use and pressure to legalize the drug.

In some parts of the United States, farmers have lobbied to legalize the growing of hemp, a plant related to marijuana that has industrial uses as a fiber. However, their efforts have been unsuccessful due to the association of hemp with marijuana.

COPYRIGHT 2007 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Point of View 1: Marijuana Should Be Legalized Because Its Prohibition Unnecessarily Taxes Law Enforcement
The responsible use of marijuana should be legalized since it is fundamentally no more dangerous than the use of legal drugs such as tobacco and alcohol. Evidence is lacking in regard to both marijuana’s addictive quality and its potential as a gateway drug. Because of investigations, arrests, trials, and incarcerations involving marijuana, law enforcement and judicial resources are unnecessarily burdened. Millions of Americans who smoke marijuana with little negative impact on society at large are threatened by a climate where the penalties for engaging in marijuana use are too severe. The currently illegal marijuana trade promotes crime by contributing to a dangerous black market for unregulated marijuana. A policy that allows for the decriminalization, legalization, and regulation of marijuana use for responsible adults is needed to give Americans freedom of choice in deciding whether to smoke marijuana.

Marijuana use among adults should be allowed in the spirit of the legalization of such drugs as tobacco and alcohol. Prior to the “Marihuana Tax Act” of 1937, people used marijuana without restriction. R. Keith Stroup, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, argues that the 1937 law was passed in a climate where marijuana was demonized by media and political interests.

The Federal Bureau of Narcotics declared that a marijuana user “becomes a fiend with savage or `cave man’ tendencies. His sex desires are aroused and some of the most horrible crimes result. He hears light and sees sound. To get away from it, he suddenly becomes violent and may kill.” Newspapers also made hyperbolic claims; among them the Journal of Law and Criminology reported on the habit of marijuana use, alleging that “[i]f continued, the inevitable result is insanity, which those familiar with it describe as absolutely incurable, and, without exception ending in death.” Throughout the remainder of the century, further legislation resulted in harsh penalties for people possessing, growing, using, or selling marijuana. This legal climate has hampered investigations into the possible benefits of using marijuana to alleviate nausea and suffering caused by certain medical conditions. Although some states have put measures in place that protect citizens from severe consequences for marijuana possession and use, the vast majority recommend jail time or impose stiff fines for convictions.

Law enforcement and judicial resources are disproportionately wasted on crimes involving marijuana. While few argue against arresting irresponsible users of marijuana, many believe that the general effort to restrict its use keeps people from focusing on more severe and violent crimes.

Criminalizing marijuana creates the false impression that it is as dangerous as more addictive drugs of like heroin and cocaine. Making marijuana legal and regulating it would take the criminal element out of its trafficking. Stroup, in testimony before Congress, criticized the disproportionate attention that marijuana offenses receive, stating: “By stubbornly defining all marijuana smoking as criminal, including that which involves adults smoking in the privacy of their home, government is wasting police and prosecutorial resources, clogging courts, filling costly and scarce jail and prison space, and needlessly wrecking the lives and careers of genuinely good citizens.”

Resources
Earleywine, Mitch. “Marijuana Is Not a Gateway to Other Addictive Drugs.” Addiction. Ed. Louise I. Gerdes. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2004.

Males, Mike. “The Problem of Youth Substance Abuse Is Exaggerated.” America’s Youth. Ed. Roman Espejo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2003.

Page, Clarence. “The Harmful Effects of Marijuana Use Are Exaggerated.” Drug Abuse. Ed. Tamara L. Roleff. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2005.

Stroup, R. Keith. “Marijuana Use Should Be Decriminalized.” Marijuana. Ed. Mary E. Williams. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2003.

COPYRIGHT 2007 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Point of View 2: Marijuana Is a Harmful Drug that Should Not Be Legalized

Marijuana is a harmful drug that should not be legalized. Its use is associated with various health risks, impairs judgment, and might serve as a “gateway drug,” leading to the eventual use of more destructive and addictive drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Further, research indicates that marijuana users experience a higher likelihood of problems at work, home, and school than nonusers. Attempts to promote the use of marijuana to alleviate the nausea and suffering of people with certain medical conditions are considered by the opposition to legalization efforts to be politically motivated efforts to undercut the perception of marijuana as harmful. Unlike legal drugs like tobacco and alcohol, marijuana contains an ingredient that produces a euphoria that warrants its continued distinction as an illegal substance. Legalizing marijuana would send a mixed message to teenagers whose parents are able to use the authority of law to support their own opposition to its use.

Studies have shown a number of health risks for marijuana users. As with tobacco, marijuana contains a number of carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), and the act of smoking itself is linked to other non-cancerous respiratory illnesses. Research in animal and human populations also indicates that marijuana use negatively impacts such cognitive functions as concentration, learning, and memory. Rats exposed to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, have shown nerve cell and resultant memory loss in experiments. Additional research on humans shows an impact on learning that might last up to four weeks. Marijuana use impairs judgment in the short-term as evidenced by findings of the Department of Health and Human Services. Their studies indicate that Washington, D.C., emergency rooms deal with more than 2,500 cases a year in which marijuana smoking plays a part, with more than 10 percent of those patients under 18 years of age. Driving under the influence of marijuana also contributes to traffic accidents which regularly result in injuries and death.

THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, has a biological impact that distinguishes it from legal drugs such as tobacco and alcohol. THC releases dopamine, a naturally produced chemical that stimulates a feeling of euphoria; as dopamine supplies are exhausted, people using marijuana show withdrawal symptoms. In 1999, the National Institute on Drug Abuse categorized more than two million people as dependent on marijuana based on such criteria. Such findings contradict those who argue that marijuana is not addictive. Further, its reputed usage as a “gateway drug,” is especially dangerous, as more addictive drugs like cocaine or heroin are considered far more dangerous than marijuana.

Commenting on the high produced by marijuana use, Damon Linker, associate editor of First Things, a publication of the Institute on Religion and Public Life, regards the behavior as contributing to “a pathology of the soul.” He states, “[I]nhaling marijuana smoke, however pleasurable, can only lead to an ersatz satisfactionbecause it involves nothing praiseworthy. Thus it is that, after its effects have worn off, marijuana leaves its users with little more than a feeling of emptiness and a craving for another high.”

Resources
Gfroerer, Joseph C., Li-Tzy Wu, and Michael A. Penne. “Marijuana Is a Gateway Drug.” Drug Legalization. Karen F. Balkin. Current Controversies Series. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2005.

Linker, Damon. “Marijuana Use Should Not Be Decriminalized.” Marijuana. Ed. Mary E. Williams. At Issue Series. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2003.
Margolis, Robert. “Legalizing Marijuana Would Harm Teens.” Legalizing Drugs. Ed. Stuart A. Kallen. At Issues Series. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2006.
Walters, John P. “Marijuana Is Harmful.” Drug Abuse. Ed. Tamara L. Roleff. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2005.

COPYRIGHT 2007 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Point of View 3: Marijuana Use Should Be Allowed to Alleviate the Nausea and Suffering of People with Certain Medical Conditions

Although marijuana use is regarded as illegal by the federal government, an exception should be made for people whose suffering and nausea can be relieved by its use. Legal alternatives to marijuana with the same active ingredient do not work with all patients. Regardless of the negative impact that marijuana can have on a person’s health, benefits eclipse the hazards for some patients. Further research into the positive effects of medicinal marijuana use has been hampered by the drug’s classification as an illegal substance. Allowing further scientific investigation into the use of medicinal marijuana would help clarify when its use might be most appropriate.

Studies have shown marijuana can benefit people with certain medical conditions and symptoms. Prior to its prohibition in 1937 with the passing of the “Marihuana Tax Act,” some members of the medical community touted marijuana as a drug with the potential to alleviate various adverse health conditions. Regardless of its status as an illegal drug, marijuana has been promoted as a possible treatment when applied under strict supervision; it has been shown to be an effective means of reducing nausea and vomiting experienced by chemotherapy patients. While alternatives such as Marinol, a legal form of the active ingredient in marijuana, exist, some patients do not respond as successfully to its administration. Marijuana has also shown some promise in relieving the pain felt by people who suffer from glaucoma, a debilitating eye condition that can lead to blindness, as well as in suppressing appetite gain and inducing muscle relaxation, conditions associated with a number of illnesses.

Even though marijuana use has some irrefutable negative effects on health, for some people its benefits outweigh its drawbacks. Smoking marijuana has been demonstrated to have a negative impact on the lungs over time, while studies also show a link between marijuana and impaired learning and memory functions. But for some patientsespecially those with terminal conditionsthe alleviation of suffering in the short-term trumps concerns about marijuana’s long-term effects on health.

Since marijuana can relieve the pain and suffering of people with certain medical conditions, further research needs to occur. Unfortunately, say supporters of research, in a climate where marijuana is regarded as illicit by the federal government, researchers might not feel the freedom to investigate its use. In 1997, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy requested that the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a division of the National Academy of Scientists, provide a report on the benefits and drawbacks of marijuana use. All of the recommendations presented by the IOM called for further research of medicinal marijuana through strictly controlled studies and clinical trials. Gary Newkirk, a clinical professor and medical editor in Seattle, offered a direct challenged to the government: “Marijuana is currently a Schedule 1 drug, considered to be potentially addictive and with no current medical use. Marijuana needs to be reclassified as a Schedule 2 drug, `potentially addictive but with some accepted medical use,’ and studied to the hilt by the same impartial science that has brought this country to the forefront in medicine.”

Resources

Colb, Sherry F. “The Federal Government Should Not Override State Medical Marijuana Laws.” Marijuana. Ed. Jamuna Carroll. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2006.
The Institute of Medicine. “Examining the Scientific Research on Medical Marijuana.” Marijuana. Ed. Louise I. Gerdes. Contemporary Issues Companion Series. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2002.

Newkirk, Gary. “The Federal Government Should Not Interfere with State Medical Marijuana Laws.” Marijuana. Ed. Louise I. Gerdes. Contemporary Issues Companion Series. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2002.

Schuckit, Marc A. “Additional Research on Medical Marijuana Is Warranted.” Marijuana. Ed. William Dudley. At Issues Series. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999.
COPYRIGHT 2007 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.