The Great Marijuana Debate

Introduction

Marijuana is a brown, green or gray blend of dried out seeds, stems, flowers together with the leaves of the hemp plant. It has been given different names by various groups of people by which it is referred. Such names include the herb, the weed, boom, bhang, gangster among others. Consumption of marijuana affects the functioning of the brain, that is to say, marijuana alters the mind. The main active component of marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Marijuana contains over 400 chemicals in addition. The effect of marijuana to the consumer is dependent on its strength. The higher the amount of THC, the much more the effect is felt. (Anonymous: 2009). This paper presents a detailed debate on whether or not to make marijuana legal, giving views from both sides.

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Should Marijuana Be Legalized?

This question has brought an unresolved debate in various countries. There is a section of people who feel that the drug should be made legal and yet we have the section opposing the idea. Each section gives its own reasons as to why marijuana should or should not be legalized.

For instance, there is an argument that favors legalizing of marijuana in which it is argued that war on drugs is an expensive fight. It is said that a lot of resources are used in arresting, prosecuting, and imprisoning those who buy and sell drugs. Such costs are seemingly very high when dealing with marijuana since it is extensively consumed and is likely less harmful as the present drugs that are legal such as cigarettes and alcohol. Another cost to the fight against drugs, it is further argued, is that the government loses revenue since it can not impose tax on illegal drugs (Moffat, n.d.).

This point of view is backed by Messerli (2009) who also argues that Legalizing marijuana will free up the police force and court resources for more grave crimes. He further explains that this move will enable the courts and the police to put their concentration on more serious crimes such as harder drugs, terrorism, and murder among others and to add on this, the court docket will undergo some improvements and waiting time for cases in court would be brought down. On the side of improving on the government revenue, he concurs with (Moffat) that the government will be able to make more money through tax on marijuana. His argument is that since the government is already getting huge amounts of money through tax imposed on cigarettes and alcohol and on what he terms as other “sins”, marijuana should not be an exception.

On the other hand Pham (2009) is strongly against the above arguments. He does not support the claim that legalizing marijuana would free up the court and police systems and saving a lot of money in resources such as prosecutors, judges, and juries in order for them to tackle more important issues. He protests that focusing on this issue of saving money is like ignoring our own health and well being and considering it is not important. To him, this is sacrificing our health just to set aside some small amount of money.

Another argument put forward by Messerli (1999) in support of legalization of the drug is that the drug is less harmful to the user when used in reasonable quantities. He stresses that it is only after abusing it that you can feel its negative effects and this applies to substances such as tobacco and alcohol that are legal. He mentions that the medical experts have a belief that alcohol and cigarettes are not less addictive than marijuana. But on the other hand, Marijuana should not be legalized on this basis since studies show that marijuana consumption is a road that leads to consumption of harder drugs. In this regard, it is seen that people will always try to experiment with what they consider to be a harmless drug and after using it for sometimes they will seek to climb the ladder to “higher satisfaction” that they may find themselves in harder drugs. Therefore, Legalizing marijuana will bring in more problems. Pham (2009) tends to support this argument through his opinion that to make marijuana legal would only be an avenue to bringing about a domino result for people demanding that more other drugs come to the market. As a consequence, much more legal issues would come up instead of going down as originally intended.

In the Debate.org website, one member who is against legalizing marijuana argues that legalizing the drug, be it for medical purposes or for any other purpose can not stand to be justified. The person went ahead and explained that the drug only fits only one important purpose alongside the feel good effect and that is, its ability to relieve pain. But the person does not feel this is a reason enough to make legal this drug on medical grounds since there are other many pain relievers on the market. No logic is seen in legalizing marijuana on the ground that it is an effectual pain reliever because what will come next is the suggestion that hard drugs such as cocaine would be more efficient since it has a more anesthetizing effect than marijuana (Debate.org, 2009).

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This view is strongly opposed by another member of the same organization. This other member explains that marijuana does not only serve as a pain reliever but states another medicinal purpose as marijuana having the capacity to stimulate one’s appetite. The member cites examples of people who may lack appetite as those living with HIV/ AIDS and those suffering from cancer and rely on marijuana in order for them to be able to get appetite for food. This person concurs with the idea that marijuana is not the only pain killer on the market and it is not necessarily the most reliable. But the person does not agree with the insinuation that the government should ban all pain killers on the market and only spare one that is most effective according to the government’s measure of standards. On the issue of hard drugs, the person argues that marijuana can not be compared to cocaine even though it might have some medicinal value because of its more harmful effects that have been demonstrated than those from marijuana when abused.

More so, it is also argued that restricting drug use interferes with personal freedom. Even if the drug is harmful, people’s choices to consume what they wish are supposed to be respected. The consumption of marijuana is mostly taken as a victimless crime in which the user alone feels the harm. On the other hand, this argument might not carry much substance in that no human beings stay in a “shell” from where he/she never goes out to interact with other people. What can be seen as someone’s problem can turn out to be the society’s problem. When a breadwinner gets harm from the consumption of a drug, the entire string of the dependants is very much affected. More so, several religions in the society and moral codes discourage the consumption of intoxicating substances and those that use them may turn out to be regarded as social misfits.

In opposing the legalizing of marijuana, it is argued that by allowing the drug to be used publicly, there will be widespread affection to the bystanders who do not use the drug putting them in danger. The argument explains that people in public places like bars, children in the homes, roommates elsewhere, spouses among others will all experience increased exposure. Consequently, the health destruction to the general society becomes bigger.

Well, this can be true, but on the contrary, in the cases where the government has to legalize the consumption of marijuana, it has to come up with conditions. In whichever context, whenever a law is set up, before people have to follow it they have to understand it. And if they do not understand it clearly, they have to be shown how to follow it. In the same vain, before the government makes a decision to legalize marijuana, it has to put in to consideration several things and for this case, the public health. Therefore, legalizing marijuana might be accompanied by the laws governing its consumption. For instance, a law should be set up to prevent people from using the drug in public places that have to be clearly stated. The health concern for the public, therefore does not amount to reason enough to stop the government from legalizing marijuana.

References

Anonymous. (2009). Marijuana: Facts for Teenagers. Web.

Debate.org. (2009). Marijuana Should NOT Be Legalized. Web. 

Joe, Messerli. (2009). Should Marijuana be legalized in any circumstances? Web.

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Mike, Moffat, (2009). Should governments Legalize and Tax marijuana? Web.

Vincent, Pham. (2009). Marijuana should NOT be legalized. Web.

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