Today, marijuana is one of the most controversial substances, although throughout the history of mankind it has been actively used for medicinal purposes. Some sources claim that it was used as a health remedy as early as 400 AD (Sarvet et al., 2018). Marijuana or cannabis is the official name of a psychoactive drug that is derived from hemp. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, marijuana, along with cocaine, heroin, and opium, was available in any pharmacy in the United States and was used as an analgesic, antirheumatic, and antiemetic agent (Sarvet et al., 2018). In the middle of the 20th century, it was widely banned and not allowed to use even for scientific research purposes (Sarvet et al., 2018). This paper aims at discussing the arguments for and against marijuana legalization.
The main argument for the legalization of medical marijuana is the fact that it helps to alleviate the suffering of patients and normalize well-being in some serious diseases and conditions. Legalization should ensure that the human rights of access to effective treatment, including hemp-based medicines, are respected (Pacula & Smart, 2017). It should provide conditions for the full use of cannabis in medicine and science, including the development, clinical research, and state registration of effective drugs or treatment protocols. It must also ensure that cannabinoid products are used solely for personal medical purposes as directed by a physician and not for marketing purposes.
All these arguments appeal to logic when claiming that marijuana contains cannabidiol which has rare medicinal properties since this drug can relieve pain and increase appetite. Legalization advocates insist that medical cannabis has many proven curative and palliative effects and may be used in Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and other neurodegenerative diseases. It may be used for the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (Sarvet et al., 2018). It is effective for chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, glaucoma, as well as cancer treatment, and nausea after chemotherapy. Therefore, these arguments use logos to support the view on why marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes.
On the contrary, opponents of legalization argue that smoking marijuana is dangerous to health. As the main argument, they cite the fact that it is a soft drug because it includes psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (Pacula & Smart, 2017). They believe that legalization will guarantee a further transition to heavier drugs. Examples of alcohol and tobacco demonstrate that drugs, once legalized, eventually become so ingrained in society that at a certain point they are no longer perceived as something dangerous (Shi, 2017). The opponents also claim that skillful marketing can easily turn them into an object of desire. Any drug can be addictive, and marijuana is no exception.
These arguments use pathos since they are based mostly on emotional appeal. On the one hand, the World Health Organization’s Committee on Drug Addiction has recognized cannabis as harmful to health (Shi, 2017). However, it has also noted the potential usefulness of this plant as a therapy for patients and scientific research. These arguments also have a slippery slope logical fallacy when claiming that drug legalization is a step from freedom of choice to permissiveness which will have negative consequences. The argument that marijuana can be the starting point for harder drugs is not supported by the evidence and credible statistics.
Over the past twenty years, more and more people are talking about legalization precisely because repressive measures have brought negative results. As a result of the pharmacological revolution, the number of new, synthetic substances has crossed all boundaries. An attempt at global drug control by force has failed. Therefore, it is normal practice to use marijuana in medicine, of course, with certain restrictions. The point is not about allowing free smoking, growing, or selling cannabis for marketing purposes. It is about starting to create various effective forms of drugs based on marijuana and using it for medicinal and health purposes.
Pacula, R. L., & Smart, R. (2017). Medical marijuana and marijuana legalization. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 13, 397-419.
Sarvet, A. L., Wall, M. M., Fink, D. S., Greene, E., Le, A., Boustead, A. E.,… & Hasin, D. S. (2018). Medical marijuana laws and adolescent marijuana use in the United States: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Addiction, 113(6), 1003-1016.
Shi, Y. (2017). Medical marijuana policies and hospitalizations related to marijuana and opioid pain reliever. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 173, 144-150.