Legalizing Marijuana Is Beneficial
Grass, pot, weed, bud, dope, indo, hydro, and good old Mary Jane are just a few of the street terms used for marijuana. Marijuana is defined as a mixture of the flowers, stems, and leaves of the Cannabis Sativa plant. When marijuana is smoked, THC [delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol] the active ingredient in marijuana goes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to all organs in the body (National Institute on Drug Abuse 1). This chemical is what causes the ’high’ people experience by inducing relaxation and heightening the senses (National Drug Intelligence Center 1). “In the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana was classified as a schedule 1 substance, which put marijuana into a class with cocaine and other such drugs” (Rawson 1). Many facts have come into perspective since this act that counter the purpose in keeping marijuana illegal. As long as restrictions are set, then the legalization of marijuana would help the medical world, the economy, and the judicial system.
The government keeping marijuana classified as a ‘schedule one’ substance restricts its medicinal value (Marijuana Legalization Organization 4). Even though marijuana has been passed for medical purposes on many state levels, the federal law makes it possible for practitioners to lose their licenses for prescribing marijuana. “Marijuana has been shown effective in reducing nausea induced by cancer chemotherapy, stimulating appetite in AIDS patients, and reducing intraocular pressure in people with glaucoma” (Drugpolicy.org 3). At the very least, the government should classify marijuana as a schedule II drug to show the acceptance of its medicinal purposes. A schedule one drug is defined as highly addictive without any medical values, which cannot be prescribed (Rachal 3). All the studies that show marijuana as a beneficial aid to patients should be enough to reclassify it. As long as scientific evidence through clinical studies demonstrates that the benefits outweigh the risks then a substance can be passed for medicinal purposes (Office of National drug control policy 6). Potential lung damage is the predominate negative aspect with smoked marijuana (Rachal 7). When a patient is faced with constant nausea from treatment and chronic pain, lung damage is minimal in comparison (Rachal 7). It is troubling how these cases are continually dismissed. A daily marijuana smoker may experience the same effects as a cigarette smoker such as chest problems like a daily cough or respiratory cancer (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration 2). Many would argue that there is a pill version of THC, named Marinol that can be used in place of marijuana. A patient suffering from a rare form of lung cancer gave his opinion of Marinol.
“The problem with Marinol is the THC isn’t absorbed into the bloodstream as quickly as with smoked marijuana,” Charles [not his real name] said. “It almost has a time-release effect. I take 20 mg. of Marinal in the morning with my cancer medication and by the time I’m hungry enough to feel like eating, it’s about 5:00 p.m. After that I’m hungry until I go to bed. I don’t want to have to wait that long for the full effects of the drug to kick in. When I smoke, I feel hungry right away” (Rachal 6).
The choice to smoke marijuana or use the pill version should be placed with the patient. Unless it is legalized, then these patients will not have such an option. The government should not be allowed pick and choose who is allowed to use marijuana. By approving researches and keeping marijuana illegal, that is exactly what the government is doing. Recent studies have shown that there is no known type of cancer associated with marijuana (Safer 3). The argument that marijuana’s supposed negative effects outweigh its medical benefits is false.
On the other hand marijuana should be legalized for recreational purposes as well because it would free judicial services in order to concentrate on harsher crimes and it would bring in money for the economy. “According to the national Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2006, about 6,000 people a day used marijuana for the first time, a total of 2.2 million Americans. Of these, 63.3 percent were under 18” (Bannigan 1). The opposition argues that legalizing pot will not eliminate the use of marijuana to underage users (Bannigan 1). This is true for alcohol as well but history shows how effective prohibition was when dealing with alcohol. The legalization of marijuana is not to eliminate the demand for all users but to aid America’s economy through taxation and limiting judicial costs. The amount of time in money put into marijuana is ridiculous when there are far more harmful drugs such as crack cocaine, methamphetamine and heroine. About one third of $68 billion a year spent on corrections is time served for nonviolent drug crimes (Klein 2). About $150 billion is spent on police services and court costs (Klein 2). About “…47.5% of all drug arrests are marijuana-related” (Klein 2). Seems like a lot of time and money wasted on a recreational drug that has never been proven to cause death. “There were 331 alcohol related deaths and 0 marijuana deaths in 2001 (Safer 1). The jail systems should focus more on violent crimes rather than nonviolent drug crimes. The United States only consists of about 5% of the world’s population but contributes to about 25% of its prisoners (Klein 2). Going to jail for marijuana does not help the drug problems in America. In fact through studies it has been shown that prisoners who only used marijuana going into the system come out using far more harmful drugs and may continue on to other crimes beyond petty drug use (Rawson 2). These funds spent on marijuana could be contributing to harsher crimes such as unsolved murders or cocaine busts.
Besides the funds spent on marijuana remaining illegal boosting the economy there is also the taxation side. Most believe it immoral to try and profit off a drug. This is why marijuana needs to be reclassified and regulated. Marijuana is a natural occurring resource. It is an herb or plant just like the tobacco plant. If the government does not have a problem with profiting from tobacco then it should not be concerned with marijuana. “Marijuana is already California’s biggest cash crop, responsible for $14 billion a year in sales” (Miceli 1). That is billions of dollars obtained from a current illegal substance. That is also not including recreational purchases. It blows the mind how much our economy could benefit from such taxation. “A 10% pot tax would yield $1.4 billion in California alone” (Klein 2). Imagine how much profit could be obtained if there was a 10% pot tax in all 50 states. Those against the legalization of marijuana argue that the health risks outweigh these economic benefits. Last time the news was on, America was still in a recession. “Regardless of your position on legalization of…marijuana, the fact is…” America needs money– and legalizing this vice is a relatively low-impact way to get it (Miceli 2).
The opposition argues that the health risks of marijuana are why it should remain illegal. Yet alcohol is far more harmful than marijuana. “Marijuana is actually less dangerous than alcohol, cigarettes, and even most over-the-counter medicines or prescriptions” (Legalizing Marijuana 2). Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol will result in death while excessive amounts of marijuana will do no more than put the user to sleep (Legalizing Marijuana 2). As free Americans, they should be able to weigh the risks for themselves. Just like with any other harmful substances such as unhealthy for and/or alcohol (Marijuana Legalization organization 7). Many also believed that the legalization of marijuana will lead to an unproductive America. This seems pretty farfetched when giving the opportunity to drink constantly or go to work; the majority of American’s obviously choose work. “People who are intoxicated constantly, regardless of the drug, are unlikely to be productive members of society. There is nothing about marijuana specifically that causes people to lose their drive and ambition” (Drugpolicy.org 4). The opposition should give American people a little more faith. Legalizing a naturally occurring plant will not change the American dream. It may just change how Americans spend their time dreaming. In fact, the patient named earlier also stated he felt motivated to get up and do more after smoking (Rachal 6). The claim that marijuana completely changes a person is not supported. Image distortion, personal identity loss, and hallucinations can be a result from high doses of marijuana (National Drug Intelligence Center 2). These factors do not completely change a person. Alcohol is by far a much more harmful substance. There have been numerous recordings of deaths by alcohol overdose (Safer 1). While “…there has never been a marijuana overdose death in history” (Safer 1). The scientific proofs of marijuana’s harmful effects are increasingly distorted to keep it illegal (Drug Reporter 2). Marijuana is far less addictive than alcohol or tobacco (Drug Reporter 2, Safer 1). The mild side effects are made clear through yearlong studies and therefore should be presented to the public and let them decide on its recreational benefits. Just like the supporters of legalizing alcohol, Marijuana supporters will fight for its legalization until they succeed (Drug Reporter 3). “They [Marijuana users] refuse to give up their long quest for justice because they believe in the fundamental values of American society” (Drug Reporter 3).
As long as America regulates marijuana in the same manner it does alcohol, then marijuana should be legalized. The tobacco company is allowed to run chaos in a sense because of all the additives they put into their products. If marijuana is legalized, it should not be processed the same way. Bannigan argues the fact that Marlboro can add a little “harmless ingredients” the way they do with cigarettes in order to help marijuana sale (2). That is why when marijuana is legalized there should be strict guidelines. First would be to make sure all production of marijuana remains pure. Meaning there cannot be any additives to the plant itself. Marijuana should be the pure cannabis sativa plant and nothing more. A second restriction should be placed in the same fashion of alcohol. In other words there should not be any machinery usage under the influence of marijuana. No driving would be allowed while under the influence and can be determined through a dilation test. This will keep the streets and work place regulated. The next obvious but still important restriction would be an age limit. The limiting age should be 21 seeing that the government believes 21 if fine for a much harsher substance like alcohol. This will regulate marijuana in the same fashion as alcohol. Thus also keeping the sale of marijuana in trusted occupations. This means the sale of marijuana should only be legal to those that obtain a license. A license should be giving in the same manner as it is now with medical marijuana. Only those that pass background checks and such regulations the government see fit should be allowed to distribute marijuana. With these restrictions in place, the legalization of marijuana would be sufficient enough to be beneficial to society.
Even though keeping marijuana illegal holds some valid points, the benefits of legalizing it outweigh those points. Marijuana is a natural herb put on this earth, not created by man like other harmful drugs. Marijuana has been proven to hold medicinal properties that have been used throughout history. Medical marijuana is a benefit to society through the patients it helps. Recreational marijuana can be beneficial to society though taxation and cost of keeping it illegal. There are also harmful effects that can be taken into appraisal and decided on use individually. As long as guidelines and restrictions are set then there should be hardly any negative effects to outweigh the positive ones. Keeping marijuana illegal will only continue the fight against the controversy until the inevitable happens the way it happened with the prohibition of alcohol. Now is the best time to act in order to aid America out of this recession. Either way the battle to legalize marijuana will continue. Marijuana’s benefits to America definitely outweigh the harm predicted. It will not lead the way to legalizing other illegal drugs because those drugs are harmful man-made drugs with no medicinal benefits. Marijuana is also a non-lethal drug compared to the other illegal drugs. The proposition of wasting so much time and money on maintaining a natural herb illegal is ridiculous when faced with the option of profiting from it. Marijuana’ recreational and medicinal purposes pose no genuine threat to American society and therefore should be legalized.