Legalize marijuana…so people won’t smoke it?
Why legal marijuana might mean less addiction
Marijuana remains a very controversial drug, and those that argue for its legalization make several valid points.
The enforcement of the drug arguably does create more harm than it spares, and since enforcement has not been effective in reducing the supply, the demand, or the rates of use; perhaps it should be re evaluated at the policy level.
The risks of marijuana use
But because marijuana enforcement is fruitless, and those that argue for legalization make some pertinent arguments, marijuana is a harmful substance, and those that argue otherwise do a disservice to at risk youth.
Firstly, marijuana has changed dramatically over the last decades, and the THC content has increased exponentially from decades past, and with increased potency comes increased intoxication, increased social problems, and increased addiction. Yes marijuana is addictive, heavy use does create a tolerance and there is a withdrawal syndrome associated with a cessation of use.
Although many people who experimented with the drug in the 60's and 70's may regard marijuana as relatively benign, today's marijuana is a dramatically different drug, and causes many more problems than earlier generations of pot ever did.
Youth who smoke marijuana are at a greatly increased risk for serious psychiatric illness later in life, the use of marijuana is associated with cancer, marijuana does impair abilities to consolidate new memories, and users of marijuana perform significantly worse on measures of cognitive and memory performance.
More teens require drug treatment for addictions to marijuana than any other drug, marijuana is still significantly linked with experimentation with other drugs, and a greatly increased risk for substance abuse problems across the board.
We should legalize it, to help people that use it?
So although we should possibly legalize or decriminalize the use of marijuana, this should not indicate a tacit approval for the use of the drug.
Enforcement has never shown much promise in the ability to control people's personal use of intoxicants, and this seems unlikely to change in the near future. So instead of wasting precious resources on enforcement, we should be shifting those resources to programs that would have a benefit to the community and to drug users in particular.
People do smoke marijuana, there seems to be little governments can do about it, and instead of wasting dollars chasing down low level marijuana dealers, let's help those that need it. Let's close some jails and open some treatment centers.
We can’t make people not use drugs, but maybe we can educate them as to the risks, and maybe a greater percentage will decide not to gamble with addiction if they truly know all the facts.
We can't close our borders to the flow of drugs (we keep trying, and we fail miserably), so lets divert hundreds of millions of dollars a year in international drug suppression, and put that money into research towards better treatments and medications against addictions of all drugs.
We should legalize marijuana, but that doesn’t mean that people should use it. We should legalize it and use our resources fighting some battles that we have a chance of winning; and since enforcement doesn’t work, let's try something that might