The thought of legalizing marijuana has elicited a raging debate with supporters of the move pointing out the benefits whereas the opponents citing the disadvantages of taking such an initiative. In the United States, individuals are generally opposed to the legalization of marijuana save for its medicinal use. According to a poll conducted jointly by the Associated Press and CNBC, 55% of the population is opposed to decriminalization of marijuana whereas only 33% of the population is for the legalization of the drug (Risling, para 5).
In the poll, it was found that majority of those in support of legalization of marijuana belonged to an age group of below 30 years. The poll also revealed that the states in the Western region were most likely to approve medicinal use of the drug whereas women, Republicans, and rural folks were likely to argue against legalization of marijuana (Risling, para 5). Health Benefits of decriminalizing Marijuana: Those in support of legalization of marijuana points out that alcohol and cigarettes are legal substances yet marijuana is criminalized.
Marijuana has been used for medicinal purposes from the historical past. Historians claim that cannabis has been used by mankind as an antiseptic and a drug in traditional societies. Other medical uses of marijuana emerged in the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe (Solomon, p 12). During the 19th century, marijuana became accepted for medicinal purposes by the medical practitioners within the western societies especially after the Napoleon army returned from Egypt. Previously, cannabis was restricted to treating burns.
The Napoleonic army was interested in the drug’s ability to relieve pain and its sedative effects. In the United States, medicinal interest of marijuana developed during the 1860s when the Panel on Cannabis indica of the Ohio State Medical Society revealed the healing capabilities of the drug (Roth, para 5). Marijuana has been confirmed to be having medicinal benefits as it is associated with treating glaucoma, offering relief to chemotherapy patients, and treating psychological problems like the social and anxiety disorders.
Marijuana is also known to relieve stress that comes from physical and emotional distress. Proponents of legalization of marijuana have also argued that though marijuana is associated with some harmful effects, other legalized drugs including tobacco and alcohol are even more harmful as research indicates that nicotine is highly addictive compared to marijuana. Also, there are more deaths associated with tobacco smoking and alcohol than from use of marijuana (Martine, para 1). Health Risks of Decriminalizing Marijuana:
Opponents of legalization of marijuana argue that the drug has been associated with many health risks both mental and physical. It is said that marijuana smoke contains carcinogenic hydrocarbons which could lead to the development of cancer. Marijuana is said to cause ‘dysregulated growth’ of the epithelial cellular lining of the lungs which may be the starting point for the development of cancer. Since marijuana is a mind-altering drug, it leads to hallucinations and an impaired cognition. The long term use of the drug may lead to irreversible impacts on the brain and its functioning.
There have been revelations that intensive use of the drug may lead to mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and suicidal tendencies (Martine, para 6). Decriminalization of marijuana for whatever reason whether it is medical or any other may lead to ease in accessing the drug for the wrong reasons. Legalizing the use of marijuana will amount to abandoning the already positive steps that have been achieved in the fight against drugs. The fight against drug use is facilitated through a well balanced model of deterrence, enforcement, and management of the drugs.
Illegal drugs are so due to their harmful nature thus there is no need to decriminalize such substances as an afterthought. Marijuana smoking has not been scientifically approved as medicinal. The version of marijuana that has some scientific approval for its medicinal value is the ‘marinol’ (Boire, p 12). This therefore holds no ground for the legalization of marijuana in its whole meaning. In any case that the use of marijuana will be legalized; there is a high chance that high levels of use and addiction will be recorded (Solomon, p 25). Conclusion:
There is no doubt that legalization of marijuana is a contestable issue with each side championing for its course. However, a keen look at the scenario indicates that the benefits of decriminalizing marijuana are of little significance when compared to the associated risks. The fact that tobacco and alcohol are legal despite their health risks should not be advanced in looking for the legalization of marijuana. Tobacco and other legal drugs are harmful to human health but that should not mean that we should introduce other harmful drugs in the market.
Already we are feeling the toll of drinking and tobacco smoking in our society and adding marijuana to the equation would not help. Though the medicinal implications of marijuana can not be wished away, research should concentrate on other alternatives other than focusing on marijuana. Legalizing marijuana would bring a situation where it will be difficult to control its use as the drug will be readily available to abusers. Work Cited: Boire, R. Glen. Marijuana law. 1996. Oakland, CA: Ronin Pub. Martine, Michael. “Devil Weed” – To Legalize or Not. Retrieved on 12th May 2010 from;
http://sirmons. wordpress. com/2010/04/20/devil-weed-to-legalize-or-not/. Risling, Greg. Most in U. S. against legalizing pot, poll shows: But more are accepting of medical marijuana, AP-CNBC survey says. 2010. Retrieved on 12th May 2010 from; http://www. msnbc. msn. com/id/36650347/ns/health-more_health_news/. Roth, Rebecca. Medical Marijuana. Retrieved on 12th May 2010 from; http://serendip. brynmawr. edu/exchange/node/1901 Solomon, Snyder. Legalization: A Debate. The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Drugs. 1988. Series 2. Chelsea House Publishers. New York.