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Should Marijuana be legal? Medical or otherwise?

Updated on November 12, 2015

To be or Not to be Legalized

Should Marijuana Be legalized?

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Introduction

The legalization of medical marijuana has been an ongoing debate amongst the political arena since Ronald Regan declared a war on drugs. However, in order to make an informed decision, it is important to know the medical uses versus the consequences from those medical uses. Not only are there medical uses, there are choices made within the judicial arena, as well as the effects of “beginning drugs” on adolescents.

According to Judge Francis L. Young, DEA Administrative Law Judge, made the statement that according to the 9-6-88 ruling, marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record. This occurred in September of 1988. Controversially, John Walters, Director of the Office of National drug Control Policy, stated in March of 2002 that, smoked marijuana damages the brain, heart, lungs, and immune system. It impairs learning and interferes with memory, perception, and judgment. Smoked marijuana contains cancer-causing compounds and has been implicated in a high percentage of automobile crashes and workplace accidents.

Despite the pros and cons for medical marijuana from creditable sources, the country should just respond no to the legalization of marijuana. Many compare marijuana to alcohol, and people can easily function and sometimes even drive while under the influence of alcohol. In fact, compared to alcohol, marijuana is not safe. Long-term, moderate consumption of alcohol carries few health risks and even offers some significant benefits. For example, a glass of wine (or other alcoholic drink) with dinner actually improves health. Dozens of peer-reviewed medical studies suggest that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol reduces the risk of heart disease, strokes, gallstones, diabetes, and death from a heart attack.According to the Mayo Clinic, among many others, moderate use of alcohol (defined as two drinks a day) “seems to offer some health benefits, particularly for the heart.” Countless articles in medical journals and other scientific literature confirm the positive health effects of moderate alcohol consumption.

Compare and Contrast Marijuana Legalization

The three that are currently listed as Schedule I are nothing alike in the way they act on the body. One is a powerful and addictive narcotic, another is a plant that has multiple uses, and the third is a man-made “club drug” that was once the most popular among the younger crowd in many countries. The similarities in these drugs only lie in their classification, which does not seem to make much sense (further explanation later in the paper). The only reason these drugs are Schedule I is noted in the introduction, but do these reasons really tell one anything? As a one-time heavy abuser of all three of these drugs, I will give a better breakdown of the effects and consequences of these drugs. I would like to explore each individually, first.


Of the three Schedule I drugs, marijuana is the most harmless. Though it is a Schedule I drug, most states have less stern laws for marijuana possession and distribution. Many laws in the past century have been passed to criminalize or tax marijuana use, but many studies found that marijuana, by itself, is not so harmful (Hart and Ksir 362-363). In fact, studies have shown that marijuana has its worst effects on the user when alcohol is involved (362-363). There are also the newly derived state-level laws for medical marijuana. The fact that many states are legalizing the drug for medicinal purposes goes to show just how less severe of an addictive substance marijuana actually is. Although the FDA is only classifying marijuana to be a legal Schedule III prescription medication in an isolated pill form, dronabinol, the same active ingredients are involved—THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) (Hart and Ksir 71). I do not believe heroin would ever be used again in this country for medicinal reasons. Marijuana has been around for millennia, and the effects on the user are little more than a temporary feeling of happiness. There are no effects on the user that are comparable to that of the other Schedule I drugs. A closer look at the effects of marijuana will show exactly how the drug affects the user.

Affects on the User

Marijuana is nowhere near as powerful a drug as the other Schedule I drugs. The latter has already been mentioned, but bears repeating for the purpose of showing that marijuana may belong in a different class. Unlike heroin, marijuana does not affect the user’s ability to function in everyday life. Marijuana provides a high lasting about 3 hours, on average, and does not how powerful mind or mood-altering affects. The symptoms one shows after marijuana use are various, depending on the user. I have not used the drug in quite some time, as it began making me paranoid to the point where I could not be around people. Unlike stories as the one told in the course textbook Drugs, Society & Human Behavior (Hart and Ksir), where a California youth murdered a shoe-shiner after smoking marijuana (and blaming marijuana) (361), the paranoia is more on a personal level, causing insecurities and a feeling of being “singled out”. It is important to note that marijuana studies found that only when mixed with alcohol does the user become a threat to society (360-364).

Many users have enjoyable experiences on marijuana. One may experience bouts of joy and giddiness, where uncontrollable laughter at seemingly nothing can occur. Time slows down and minutes feel like hours. The user becomes hungry and experiences what has been called “the munchies”. Dry or “cotton-mouth” is another affect, along with blood-shot eyes. The main danger, if any, is the lack of coordination and motor skills. The effect on the user is not as severe as alcohol in the coordination area, but can still be a hazard. Marijuana’s most potent effect is the inducing of tiresome feelings or sleepiness. The drug is very sedative in nature.

There are also medicinal, helpful effects with marijuana, which is why its active chemical—THC—is used in treatment for cancer patients. Marijuana causes appetite, reduces tension, suppresses nausea, and has effects that ease glaucoma in some cases. The drug is not as it has been advertised in the early-to-mid-1900’s, where government and lobbyist groups attempted to make marijuana out to be a harmful drug. Marijuana causes no physical dependence, and any psychological dependence can be treated much easier than most drugs. Never in my life have I seen a person turn to “hard” crime or have their life ruined due to marijuana use. Maybe this drug needs to seriously be reevaluated and not compared to the other drugs in its Scheduling group.

Sources

References

Hart, Carl L. and Ksir, Charles. Drugs, Society & Human Behavior, 14th Ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2011. Print.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). “What is Ecstasy/MDMA?” about.com. About.com, 22 Sept. 2012. Web. 22 October 2014.

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