Why Should America Legalize Marijuana
The Illegal Plant
Before we get too far into the subject, I do not smoke pot. Yes, I've done it, as most people have, but it's been years. So this isn't the mindset of some junkie/slacker/pothead thinking these words. My current job revolves around working with psychiatric patients in an emergency room, so my experience with these patients has lead me to learn more and more about drug abuse, which is MAIN PROBLEM IN PSYCHIATRIC PATIENTS. With that being said, I'll attempt to inform those who read this- the reasons for advocating the legality of marijuana.
The Argument A: It's a gateway drug
I can understand why some people believe it is a gateway drug. Human beings are curious creatures, and the relaxation- the high- that one would receive from smoking pot could indeed cause someone to become more curious with other drugs. With some people, this may be true. Those people are called junkies. Those people are people who are going to try the harder, more dangerous drugs regardless of the legality. However, I'd argue that those people will be less inclined to try the more dangerous drugs (heroin, cocaine, etc) if they have a legal, safer, alternative. Who would want to risk their lives and freedom from incarceration if they have something that is legal and safe to get their high from? Yes, there will be some people that will do the harder drugs. But they will be less likely to do them if they have an alternative that won't hurt them. Those people will exist until the sun burns out. My argument is that there will simply be less of them.
The Argument B: There are Medical Benefits
I hate using this argument. The reason is that we have medical alternatives to marijuana to help with most diseases. However, it's an argument none-the-less. Also, the legalization of pot would make the research involved with the medical benefits less taboo, which would open up more alternatives for medical science. With no factual backing (just being honest, and this is purely opinionated) I believe that we as a society are holding back on the medical research associated with marijuana based off the idea that it is a bad thing. If we loosen up on the leash a bit, there may be more scientific evidence available to study more benefits of smoking the drug.
As I stated before, I hate this argument, but I have to state it. We have more than enough medical alternatives to pot to use it on cancer patients or chronic pain patients. Most of those alternatives are addictive, though. Pot is not. Sure, someone who is receiving radiation treatment will feel like death, and the doctor will prescribe some sort of narcotic to help them through it. It's nice that your cancer is gone. Too bad that you fiend for oxycontin and vicodin, now.
The Argument C: Synthetic Drugs
More and more I'm seeing more patients coming into the hospital due to these synthetic "legal" drugs. Spice. K2. Glass Cleaner. Whatever the hell you want to call it. It's "Legal" pot and it's horrible. You may or may not have heard of them, but I'm seeing more and more of it. People have been buying them at the gas station, or corner stores. I'll fill you in on exactly what is happening in case you've never heard of it.
What is going on is that companies are making a product, they label it as "Bath Salts" and put on the packaging "not for human consumption." This makes it legal. You can buy it at a gas station. It's not really bath salts, though, that's just what they call it so you can buy it. Then, the state government will ban these drugs. So the company will change something about it. Maybe add a new ingredient or take something away, and then market it again as "Glass Cleaner." It's a never ending process, it's been going on for a few years. People are getting into this and it is horrible. I've seen kids that think their parents are aliens or robots, and they've been off the drugs for weeks. The quote was "I smoked that K2 stuff (spice) and I'm paranoid that they are aliens now. I know it sounds stupid, and I KNOW they aren't, but I can't get it out of my head." These patients think that people are following them. They think that there are bugs under their skin and they cut themselves to get the bugs out. The fact that these people are nearly killing themselves during the "high" is equally horrifying as the long lasting effects of these drugs that are screwing up their brains.
THIS is the main reason I'm all for legalizing pot. It's a plant. It's not a drug that some guy is concocting in his basement, filling it with chemicals that we have NO IDEA the effects are in the human body. It's a plant that grows naturally on the planet, just like tobacco, with a euphoric affect. Trust me, if you could see the patients that I see who have used these "synthetic" drugs, you'd be more than willing to legalize pot. I encourage you to look up "Bath Salts" on the internet and do some research yourselves.
The Argument D - More emphasis on an Alternative Drug
Most, not all, of the patients I see in the hospital who have psychiatric issues have them due to use of other drugs. The craziest of the crazies always seem to have cocaine show up in their tox screen, or opiates. Very rarely do I ever have a patient come in with psychological issues brought on by pot, with the exception of depression- and usually that's because they mix it with alcohol. This kind of can be combined with the synthetic drug argument- because cocaine, heroin, etc, are not natural drugs. There is no withdrawal from pot. If you've ever seen a person going through heroin withdrawal, it's horrible. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.
We need to open up the door for these people. I know a lot of people who would think "These junkies do this to themselves." While it's true, everyone makes mistakes. However, not everyone makes a mistake in their life that is so damned hard to fix. In my belief, a legal marijuana will help these people get over their hard drug addictions by way of giving them an alternative. The alternative right now? Sabaxone. It's a drug that helps addicts get through the withdrawals of their opiate addictions. The irony is that it is addictive itself. I have nothing against the drug, as it really does help. My solution is to give people an alternative to find euphoria BEFORE they think about trying a harder drug.
The Argument E - It's Dangerous??
I've heard people say that "Well, one of these potheads will get behind the wheel of a car and kill somebody." Well to them, I say, "You're right." But, those people are the people who more than likely are ALREADY smoking pot that they buy off the street. Those people are people who will get behind the wheel of a car right now, because they don't give a damn if they kill somebody or not. The number of car accidents will not go up, because the people who are irresponsible are already doing the stupid things that hurt people. The responsible ones who will smoke it when/if it becomes legal won't do that. Besides, I don't know about you guys, but I remember the last time I smoked it. I didn't feel like driving anywhere. I barely felt like getting up off of the couch.
Also, if it's legal- less violent crimes. I knew a kid in high school. We graduated. After a few months, I saw he went to jail. His crime? He robbed a pot dealer. In doing so, he shot someone, killing them. Now, I'm all for letting these stupid people run around, robbing eachother and killing themselves. In the same breathe, innocent people can get hurt, too. I'd like to minimize that. No point robbing a pot dealer if they don't exist. We also tend to think of people who sell drugs as these scary guys with guns, too. Not all of them are. There's big money in drug trafficking; Look at the bootleggers during prohibition. Some people do it just to pay their rent.
The Argument F - Freeing up the Prison System
There are too many people in jail for the possession of marijuana. We should probably keep the jail reserved for muggers, rapists, and murderers. We are spending way too much money on people who are in prison for nonviolent crimes - crimes that don't hurt anybody, and we need to free that up. I'm sick of seeing (again mostly cocaine and heroin users) the criminal history of some of my patients. In and out of jail multiple times for violent offenses, when they should be locked away for much longer. Our criminal system can't keep these people in jail for long because it's too full. So what is our country doing? Waiting for these violent individuals to murder somebody before giving stiff penalties for their behavior. We need stiffer penalties on violent crimes and softer (to none) on marijuana "crimes."
I won't even mention that our government can tax the drug and profit off of it either, because that's been way overstated. But it's true. I'd also state that it would cause the drug cartels to stay in Mexico and South America- but that's not really true. They would still be trafficking cocaine and heroin over to the states, so it would still be a problem. I'd like to think, though, that it would be less of a problem.
Also, some may say that they don't want their kids getting it. It's far easier for your child to get their hands on marijuana right now than it is for them to get alcohol. Do you know why? Drug dealers don't ask for ID. Your child will get their hands on it if they want it bad enough, regardless if it's sold by some man in an alley, or they have an adult buy it for them in a smoke shop. In fact, I smoked pot for the first time WELL before I ever drank alcohol. Hell, I smoked pot before I ever smoked a cigarette. I waited until I was 18 and 21 respectively for those things.
The pros outweigh the cons, in my opinion. I see no way that a plant, that was placed here on this planet whether by god or just plain naturally (no matter what your view is) should be taken away from the people who inhabit this earth. As stated before, I don't smoke the stuff, but just based off of what I see in my day to day work environment, I believe the legalization of this herb would be far more beneficial than what we are seeing today.
I know everyone will not agree, and that's fine. If you have anything to add, or any comments with opposing views, feel free to add them below. I'm always open to all opinions.