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Federal Marijuana Legalization and Health Consequences

Updated on April 15, 2015

Federal Marijuana Legalization

Marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug deemed by the DEA. Drugs in this category have a high potential for abuse, have no accepted medical use in the United States, and little safety with medical supervision. People are scared of what could happen when something becomes legal, that has been illegal for a long time. Many arguments arise such as, the health risks with smoking marijuana, medical marijuana legitimacy, rates of use, marijuana use and negative effects on the body. But overall the legalization of marijuana will have little effect on the overall health of the United States citizens.

Health risks are everywhere. But people know that smoking can cause harm on a smoker’s lungs, esophagus, and their whole mouth. People argue that making something legal that has similar effects of tobacco cannot be beneficial to society. But because marijuana is illegal, marijuana cannot undergo studies to find out if it truly is harmful to long term health. But some studies do show marijuana smoke does contain some of the same carcinogens that are in cigarettes, which makes people believe that marijuana is just as bad as smoking a cigarette (Armentano). But THC and other cannabinoids are showing signs of anti-cancer properties (Armentano).But there are other ways of getting the benefits of marijuana that are healthier than smoking. Many medical marijuana users use tinctures, rub on oils, vaporizers, and even edibles. But while these are healthier alternatives to smoking, getting the right dose is hard or takes too long to take effect compared to smoking.

Because smoking is unhealthy, medical marijuana becomes a highly debated topic. Is it really for legitimate reasons or is it just recreational users looking for a legal way to get high? Many people believe that medical marijuana is putting communities down by making druggies move to town, and the nearby area smell of weed. While this may seem like the case, marijuana dispensaries are helping our communities they pay taxes like law abiding citizens, and provide medicine for people with needs. Many believe that marijuana isn’t a medicine; it causes people to get high and because of that marijuana cannot be a medicine.

There are thousands of articles on cannabinoids and the relief they can provide for many medical conditions such as, nausea, vomiting, muscle spasms, pain. (Uritsky, McPherson, and et al 1291) Marijuana has even helped patients with symptoms ranging from cancer to multiple sclerosis, and many other debilitating diseases that affect everyday life. (Uritsky, McPherson, and et al 1291) These people use marijuana as an alternative, to the many side effects of pharmaceutical drugs that stack symptoms on top of symptoms. The side effects of marijuana on the other hand are very little and minute such as, dry mouth, increased appetite, and red eyes. While most patients use their cards for normal everyday purchases, others may abuse this and sell to people without their green card.

Because of this easy access to medical marijuana, many people believe that rates of use will increase, and teenagers will have easier access to marijuana. But most teens admit that access to marijuana is easier than alcohol and prescription drugs. (Duran, and Sulaiman) Why is this? Marijuana being illegal should be harder for minors to get than any other legal alternative. This is not the case though, when alcohol is regulated teens have to find someone willing to purchase them alcohol, but if caught doing this the purchaser can get some stiff fines and have something added to their record. In Arizona teen use of marijuana has gone down from 29.9 percent to 28.7 percent. (Elliott) While this may not seem like a significant number, the use hasn’t gone up in teenagers like most predicted. But the majority of these kids that have used marijuana did not get it from a dispensary, but from a friend or at a party. (Elliott) Teen use hasn’t increased but has gone down slightly showing, that laws that change do not say to teens it is alright to go out and smoke weed.

Parents are scared that once there child uses marijuana they will go onto other drugs. Drug prohibitionists call this the gateway drug theory. If you use marijuana it can lead to other harder drugs, and can get you hooked to the hard stuff. Research has proven that marijuana cannot be a gateway drug, many that use marijuana do not continue on to harder drugs. (Morgan) Shouldn’t alcohol or cigarettes be given this title? Most people begin with these drugs not marijuana. Studies show that marijuana users normally don’t use any other drugs they stick with marijuana. (Morgan) With 14.4 million past month users of marijuana and only 2,075,000 million using cocaine in the past month it shows that if anyone had used marijuana only 2 million of them went on to cocaine. (Morgan) That isn’t even half of the marijuana users. If marijuana was a gateway drug more than half would go on to use other drugs. Normally the only way people move on to harder drugs is because of their dealer that offers them other harder drugs. With marijuana being legal this would reduce the amount of marijuana users being introduced to harder drugs from their dealers.

Marijuana is often believed to be an addictive substance. But is it really as addicting as people make it out to be? With all the other drugs out there marijuana is one of the lowest on the addictive rating scale. (Drug Science) This scale works by the higher the number the worse dependency is. Alcohol has a higher rate of dependency by two, while nicotine has five more ratings than that of marijuana. (Drug Science) Even crazier is marijuana is less than caffeine by one. With all of these drugs that have higher dependency rates marijuana even has the lowest withdrawal rates, so it’s even easier to quit. (Drug Science) Marijuana has a lot of claims that are just like this. It is often stated that marijuana kills brain cells. This may seem like its true when you see movies with Cheech and Chong and other typical stoner movies. But marijuana has been proven not to kill brain cells. (Gieringer) Though it does affect short term memory, alcohol on the other hand has been shown to cause brain damage. (Gieringer) Parents need to explain to their kids that underage use actually does cause harm to the brain and that responsible use of any drug is a must.

Marijuana legalization is slowly happening throughout America and will happen. Over the past 17 years, 18 states have legalized the use of medical marijuana already. (Medical Marijuana States) Just this past year 2 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. While many people demonize the use of marijuana, and state all the negative health effects, they do not state the other side of the facts. This is what people need in such a controversial topic such as legalizing marijuana. People think that smoking is bad, but there are many other ways to use marijuana that are safer than smoking. Medical marijuana isn’t such a bad thing, when people are actually getting medicine that helps them. Rates of use will not increase because of legalization, when states such as Arizona show the use of teens using marijuana go down. The gateway drug theory is debunked because anything can be a gateway. Some health myths about marijuana like addiction, and it kills brain cells have been proven wrong. Marijuana is not all that bad for people’s health compared to all the other legal drugs that are available to the public and cause far greater health risks than marijuana. Because of this marijuana would have little effect on the health of American citizens.



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Armentano, Paul. "Cannabis Smoke and Cancer: Assessing the Risk." NORML. N.p.. Web. 3 Mar 2013. <

Uritsky, Tanya, Mary Lynn McPherson, et al. "Assessment of Hospice Health Professionals’ Knowledge, Views, and Experience with Medical Marijuana."Journal of Palliative Medicine 14. (2011): 1291.Ebsco. Database. 3 Mar 2013.

Duran, Lauren, and Beg Sulaiman. "National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XIII: Teens and Parents." CASA* 2008 TEEN SURVEY REVEALS (2008): n.pag. CASA. Database. 17 Mar 2013. <>

Elliott, Steve. "Teen Pot Use Goes Down After AZ Legalizes Medical Marijuana." Toke of the Town. N.p., 3 Jan 2013. Web. 3 Mar 2013. <>.

Morgan , Scott. "Research Proves Marijuana is Not a "Gateway Drug"." Stop the Drug War. N.p., 27 May 2009. Web. 3 Mar 2013. <>.

"Dependence Liability: Dependency Compared to Other Drugs." Drug Science. N.p.. Web. 3 Mar 2013. <>.

Gieringer, Dale. "NORML's Marijuana Health Mythology."NORML. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Mar 2013. <

"18 Legal Medical Marijuana States and DC." Procon. N.p., 22 Feb 2013. Web. 3 Mar 2013. <>.


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