According to the Food and Drug Administration, marijuana is classified as a schedule I drug. Substances that qualify for this classification have "a high potential for abuse, no current accepted medical use in treatment, and no safe use" (Schneider 11). However, to the thousands of patients across the United States and the World that use marijuana as a medicine this classification is incorrect. Currently in the United States there are nine states that have passed laws that allow for the use and possession of marijuana by those deemed by a doctor to warrant the prescription of marijuana (Rose 14). The leader of these states was California that became the first to pass such legislation in 1996 with the ground breaking "Proposition 215"("Please" 5). While critics of the push for the legalization of medical marijuana contend that the support of such a movement is nothing more that the tip of the iceberg of the movement to decriminalize marijuana, supporters of medical marijuana argue that the issue is one of the patient and nothing more. Critics also argue that due to the nature of the cannabis plant itself regulation of the drug would be impossible and that the negative effects of smoking marijuana would outweigh any therapeutic value. The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes under the correct circumstances and as prescribed by a doctor should be made legal in all states by the federal government for the simple reason that the American public should not be denied a medicine that has been shown to reduce symptoms and side effects in the treatment of severe and chronic illnesses.
The thought of using marijuana for medicinal purposes in not new, the idea has been passed along for thousands of years. Many ancient cultures have documentation of the use of smoked marijuana for the treatment of various ailments. The use of marijuana in the United States dates back to approximately the late 1800's and by the start of the 20th century a number of papers that centered on the use of medical marijuana had been written in the states.