Legalizing Marijuana: Discussion

Introduction

The warfare on substance use and abuse is a costly engagement regardless of place and time. Authorities direct numerous resources towards catching buyers and sellers of illicit drugs. The process does not stop at catching them; it goes to prosecution and jailing those found guilty. The war becomes even more complicated as authorities try to fight the use of marijuana, which in principle does not seem to have more harmful effects than legal substances like alcohol and tobacco. People consume marijuana extensively across nations notwithstanding the incessant war waged against its use. There is another side of the story about a war against marijuana though. How significant is the revenue lost by governments through failure to collect taxes on illicit drugs? What about health issues about marijuana consumption? Will legalizing marijuana consumption serve as an antidote concerning its consumption? This paper analyses these issues and gives insights to research work concerning the legalization of marijuana. This paper analyses pros and cons of marijuana legalization. Statistics indicate that over 65 million people in America, over 12 years old have used marijuana (Preliminary Estimates from the 1994 National Household Survey, 1995).

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Cons of Marijuana Legalization

The majority of people think that marijuana should remain illegal. What is the basis of this argument? Due to the incessant debate on whether marijuana should be legalized or not, researchers have taken the task to establish if really marijuana causes significant harm to individuals and society. There is substantial evidence that marijuana causes severe effects on the brain. Ameri (2009) posits that marijuana consumption leads to immunosuppressive effects in the body. This implies that the immune system cannot function appropriately. The active component in marijuana is delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Ameri, 2009). The research established that, this compound cause cell death and results in DNA atomization in the hippocampus part of the brain. Ameri (2009) concurs that marijuana causes similar brain effects as morphine and other hard drugs.

Research work indicates that marijuana users had increased death rates as compared to non-users. A research carried out by Sidney, Beck, Tekawa, Quesenberry, and Friedman (1997), established that marijuana users had increased mortality rates with 28% of 65 171 marijuana-consuming men analyzed, dying as compared to 11% of non-consuming men (p. 585). This is a clear indication that marijuana is harmful and anti-marijuana campaigners have a reason to continue with their campaign. Marijuana smokers have high chances of contracting AIDS and consequently die out of it (Sidney et al. 1997, p. 585). Due to hallucinations caused by marijuana, people are likely to make misjudgments and engage in risky practices predisposing them to HIV. Researchers strongly link marijuana, just like other psychoactive drugs with irresponsible behaviors like unprotected sexual relationships (Leigh and Stall, 1993). This is a dangerous affair.

There are claims that marijuana may have medicinal value; a notion held by many who support marijuana use. However, Berger (1998) posits that there is no substantial scientific evidence to support these claims. Without proof, it will be difficult to uphold any claim because people are always right in their opinions per se. Claims that marijuana may be of medicinal value emerged in the early 1970s and this led to increased home use. As a result, there was a significant increase in crime around that time (Berger, 1998). This extends the negative effects of marijuana use to social quarters.

There have been reports of marijuana-associated lung diseases. A research carried out by Tan, Lo, Jong, Xing, FitzGerald, Vollmer, Buist, and Sin (2009), established that smoking marijuana increased the risk of lung and respiratory complications. Essentially, smoking involves the respiratory system where the particulate toxins of the smoked substance embed and cause destruction (Tan et al, 2009). Therefore, marijuana legalization will escalate these respiratory complications.

Acute marijuana use affects decision-making and impairs cognitive processes. According to Vadhan, Hart, van Gorp, Gunderson, Haney, and Foltin (2007), acute marijuana consumption disrupted basic cognitive processes during times of intoxication (p. 357). People should not mistake improved activity with accuracy. Vadhan et al. (2007) posit that even though people under influence of marijuana may have improved activity, the levels of accuracy remain low at the same time (p. 360). This questions the logic of using marijuana to improve performance while the accuracy of the improved performance declines.

Researchers have linked testicular cancer to marijuana consumption. Research, published in the journal of cancer, established that being a regular smoker of marijuana predisposed someone to testicular cancer (Buddy, 2009). A person under influence of marijuana experiences hallucinations, delusions, impaired memory, and disorientation. These effects touch several frontiers in one’s life. Marijuana in general, like any other abused drug, leads to health deterioration. This may explain in part the reason why anti-drug campaigns are mushrooming by the day in a bid to sensitize individuals on the effects of drug abuse like marijuana.

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Pros of Marijuana Legalization

Marijuana use and its subsequent legalization have received intense opposition from different quarters of society inside and outside American borders. Nevertheless, some people believe that marijuana should be legalized and they give evidence as to why such a move is appropriate. What are the specifications of the marijuana legalization campaign? Pro-campaigners of marijuana, pin their arguments on disapproving myths about the negative effects of marijuana. People for a long time have associated marijuana use with depression. However, Harder, Morral, and Arkes (2006), state that there is no clear relationship between marijuana use and future development of stress among adults.

Democracy means freedom for all. Consequently, pro campaigners of marijuana legalization claim that people need to be at liberty; hence, they can choose to use or not to use marijuana. Moreover, pro-campaigners of marijuana legalization claim that people can draw the line between marijuana as used in medicine and abuse (Berger, 1998). Surely, if marijuana is of any medicinal value people should be at liberty to use it. According to Berger (1998), medicinal marijuana controls nausea in AIDS and cancer patients. This qualifies the legalization of marijuana.

Kaufman (2006), reports that research indicates that there is no relationship between cancer and marijuana. In his research, Donald Tashkin, a pulmonologist at the University of California, established that marijuana contained no cancerous particulate matter as opposed to hitherto reports that marijuana caused cancer (Kaufman, 2006). Another research indicates that marijuana contains compounds that cause tumor cells to undergo apoptosis. The active compound in marijuana, delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, inhibits the growth and spread of tumor cells (Science News, 2007). If marijuana reduces incidences of this terminal disease, then its legalization should take place immediately. Why should people suffer and die while sitting on the cure? It beats logic to continue denying people what can be useful to them.

The other outstanding reason why marijuana should be legalized tackles cost. It is expensive to track down illegal drug dealers, persecute and jail them. Moreover, the government loses millions of dollars in tax to illegal drug deals. Research carried to establish costs associated with marijuana qualifies legalization of the same. This report indicated that 0.5 grams of marijuana trade at $ 8.6 in the black market while its cost of production is $ 1.7 (Moffat, 2009). Consequently, these 0.5 grams fetch a staggering $ 6.9 in profits. This margin of non-taxed profit is whopping and the government could get good money in taxes. Moreover, the underground marijuana business is heavily linked to well-organized criminal gangs. Legalizing this business will bring transparency and act as a way of eliminating these gangs (Moffat, 2009).

Conclusion

To legalize or not to legalize marijuana remains a point of contention given the divergent views held by many people concerning the same. However, the cons of legalizing marijuana outweigh the pros by far. There is enough scientific evidence that marijuana causes severe effects on the health of the users. For instance, this paper has indicated clearly that marijuana destroys brain cells and affects cognitive processes. Again, it has substantiated claims that there are increased mortality rates among marijuana consumers. There is enough evidence that acute use of marijuana affects decision-making. On the other hand, the pros of marijuana legalization rely mainly on allegations without much evidence from scientific research. Marijuana should not be legalized. Who wants an ailing nation with citizens who cannot make appropriate decisions?

Reference

Ameri, A. (1999). The Effects of Cannabinoids on the Brain. Vol. 58(4). Web.

Berger, A. (1998). Vital Signs: Pro & Con; Marijuana Votes: Bane Or Benefit? The New York Times.

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Buddy, T. (2009). The Health Effects of Marijuana. Web.

Daily News. (2007). Marijuana Cuts Lung Cancer Tumor Growth In Half, Study Shows. Science News. Web.

Harder, V., Morral, A., & Arkes, J. (2006). Marijuana Use and Depression Among Adults: Testing For Causal Associations. 110(10). Web.

Kaufman, M. (2006). Study Finds No Cancer-Marijuana Connection. Washington. Web. 

Leigh, B., & Stall R. (1993). Substance Use and Risky Sexual Behavior for Exposure To HIV: Issues in Methodology, Interpretation, and Prevention. Am Psychol. Web.

Preliminary Estimates from the 1994 National Household Survey. (1995). Advance Report No. 10. Rockville, Md: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations. Web.

Sidney, S., Beck, J., Tekawa, I., Quesenberry, C., & Friedman, G. (1997). Marijuana Use and Mortality. Web.

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Tan, W., Lo, C., Jong, A., Xing, L., FitzGerald, M., Vollmer, W., Buist, S., & Sin, D., (2009). Marijuana and Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease: A Population-Based Study. 180(8). Web.

Vadhan, N., Hart, C., van Gorp, W., Gunderson, E., Haney, M., & Foltin, R., (2007). Acute Effects of Smoked Marijuana on Decision Making, As Assessed By A Modified Gambling Task, In Experienced Marijuana Users. 29(4). Web.

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