The controversy of whether or not marijuana should or should not be legalized started in 1996 when California passed Proposition 215. The proposition made marijuana medically available in California. Although not a lasting solution, it does provide a defense in criminal instances.
If marijuana were to be legalized throughout the United States, would it be more harmful or helpful to the patient? Both sides of the argument have very strong cases for what they believe. On the anti-legalization side, there are concerns of health and mental hazards, the problem of marijuana being a stepping-stone drug, and the risk that the use of marijuana incites violence.
While advocates of marijuana believe it is a more effective drug, it is more cost-efficient, and there is a concern of how it will be obtained once it is legalized. Both sides of the argument will be presented and supported reasonably and in an unbiased manner.
First, a brief description of what marijuana is, its past uses, and what it has become will be presented. Marijuana is a psychotropic or mind-altering drug obtained by treating the hemp plant. There are three types of the plant which include Cannabis sativa, indica, and ruderalis. (Sussman 2) In the 1600s, hemp was a major product used in the fabrication of many things, and it did not begin its recreational use until the 1900s when it was brought from Mexico to replace alcohol. (Sussman 1)
Now I will begin to present the arguments brought forth by those opposing the legalization of marijuana. In the conflict against the legalization of marijuana, the major argument is the adverse effects of marijuana on both the mind and the body. The most well-known harm done to the body is lung cancer. When compared to a normal tobacco cigarette, a joint contains five times as much carbon monoxide, four times the amount of tar, and it does ten times as much harm to the lining of your respiratory system. (Sussman 3)
One would think, why would you want to do this to your lungs? It is because tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the strongest psychoactive portion of marijuana, relaxes and takes away your pain very quickly and effectively. Another physical hazard is that your immune system will not be as effective when using marijuana. (Sussman 3) Which is a very good point.
You are a sick individual and you want to get better. Would you want to take something that would shut down the very thing that is fighting your disease? It is a complete contradiction as to what you are trying to accomplish. Another major problem found with the use of marijuana is it can cause problems in the mind. Use can cause confusion, disorientation, and hallucinations. (Sussman 3)
There are, besides, other mental effects created by the usage of marijuana. When coverage of the mental effects users have stated, they can’t halt utilizing the drug, loss of self-confidence and memory, household and fiscal jobs, and withdrawal symptoms. (Sussman 6) A psychological consequence also known in the battle is that marijuana has been studied as a stepping stone drug.
Approximately 60 percent of adult users use other drugs. While it is not clear how one affects the other, it is believed that using enjoyable drugs supports the usage of other drugs. (Sussman 4) This is an effect that would cause many more problems for those who are contending to halt the spread of drug usage.
The concluding argument I will discuss is the US Secret Service’s link between marijuana and violence. Many early studies said that marijuana was not linked to violence, but recent studies show quite the opposite. Twenty-seven percent of perpetrators had smoked marijuana 24 hours before committing the offense, and 25 percent say that marijuana was related to the crime. (Sussman 9) Violence has also occurred in order to obtain the drug. They include the offenses of larceny and drug dealing. (Sussman 9) These have been merely a few of the arguments to keep marijuana illegal.
While there are many good arguments to keep marijuana illegal, there are also very many to assist in legalizing it. There are many advocates in the battle to legalize marijuana. Some include the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Marijuana, Jerome P. Kassier, who is the editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Kevin B. Reese, the lawyer and president of Common Sense for Drug Policy.
Right now, marijuana is a Schedule I drug, which means it has no medical value. Advocates wish for it to be reclassified as a Schedule II drug. An example of a Schedule II drug is morphine. If marijuana were to be reclassified, it could prove helpful medically in many ways.
THC has been shown to assist patients in many areas. Its greatest contribution may be to chemotherapy patients. THC can guard off the effects of nausea and vomiting brought on by chemotherapy interventions. (Fackelmann 2) Richard Gralla, director of the Ochaner Cancer Institute in New Orleans, says that drugs available today offer many cancer patients complete freedom from nausea and emesis. (Fackelmann 2)
On the other hand, Kevin Zeese says many patients can’t take these drugs that are required to be taken orally. (Fackelmann 2) Pro-marijuana legislators say that inhalation delivers quicker relief, which would enable the patient to regulate the amount they receive. (Fackelmann 2)
Which would be best for the patient because they could maintain the pain relief and still regulate how much they will receive. The usage of marijuana may help in other areas as well. One is glaucoma, a disorder in which there is extreme pressure in the eye. One study, which took place over a period of twenty-one years, showed that the pressure was relieved. (Fackelmann 3)
With the aid of a glaucoma prescription and marijuana, the subject was able to ward off the pressure. (Fackelmann 3) Neither approach worked alone, which is why it makes many scientists uneasy to prescribe this treatment. This is a perfect example of why I believe that the government should fund research to help find out why this happens. The more people know, the less they will have to fear.
Many people have a great fear of how they will obtain the drug if it were legalized. When Proposition 215 was passed, the DEA interpreted that law so that only people with prescriptions and those that look after them could grow marijuana themselves. It also stated that they could not get it from “pot clubs”. (Saccamano 1) This leaves them to deal with drug dealers and exposes them to danger.
The cost of marijuana is also a good basis to legalize marijuana. The cost would be twenty to thirty dollars an ounce or 30 cents a cigarette. Zofran, a commonly used drug, would cost a patient 30 to 40 dollars a dose, about a hundred times as expensive as marijuana. (Grinspoon 4) These have been a few of the main arguments presented by marijuana advocates.