I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug. Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here. If He put it here and He wants it to grow, what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?
The modern pharmaceutical industry has currently developed several medications in an effort to address a wide array of concerns—concerns that they hope could be addressed by medications. However, along with that development is the ever-increasing number of individuals resorting to substance abuse. A number of substances, despite their medical value, are being widely questioned and criticized because of their apparently addictive properties. The society, particularly the government and the medical community, tries to consider the best interest of the people especially on issues pertaining to health and wellness. However, on certain occasions, arguments that require choosing between factors such as health and recovery, and possibility of addiction may be raised. And most of the time, a compromise will have to be made. On debates such as the legalization of use and the free distribution of a specific substance like narcotics, arguments from both sides would be necessary for a democratic and unbiased discussion.
The discussion on the legalization of marijuana is one of the most pressing issues in medicine particularly in pharmacology. Although this issue has not reached a national level of recognition from the government, many of its advocates are pushing for the legalization and free distribution of this highly-addictive substance. There are currently ongoing debates that weigh the advantages and disadvantages of marijuana consumption to the health and wellness of an individual. Critics of marijuana tend to refute the claims of its alleged medical benefits. They also suggest that the harm that this substance may bring could be comparatively more damaging compared to the potential medical benefit that may be achieved. The question now would be which of its effects holds more value? Would it be the medical or addictive effects?
Given the initial points raised, this paper aims to establish the value of Marijuana and whether it would be best to legally enable free use and distribution of this controversially controlled substance. The author of this paper would raise two points on this debate—one focusing on the medicinal value of the substance and the other suggesting the medical side-effects (e.g. addiction) that may come as a result of using the substance. One of the major sources of argument comes from the notion that marijuana is a relatively harmless substance and that it has more benefits that should lead to the legalization of its use and distribution. Arguments for this side need to present the medicinal properties of Marijuana and evidence-based proofs of its efficacy. On the other hand, the author will also present counter arguments on the adverse effects of using marijuana and how targeted patients and non-patients may potentially abuse this substance.
For the purpose of argument, it would be important to consider that marijuana is legal in some countries and some parts of the U.S. This argument will center on areas where marijuana use and distribution is not legal, particularly in the more conservative states like Wyoming, Mississippi and Utah . Arguments will focus on the medical, social and economic aspects of legalizing the use and distribution of marijuana.
Marijuana is Harmless and Medicinal
Marijuana is a popular term that is used to describe substances derived from Cannabis. Marijuana contains an active ingredient known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC has effects on both the central nervous system and the immune system. It is also because of this ingredient that many believe in the medical effects of marijuana . In the same article, Dr. Jane Marmor, M.D. said that marijuana functions as an analgesic to treat mild to moderate pain . This is the same component found in appetite stimulants used in treating conditions such as Anorexia Nervosa, and also in patients with HIV and AIDS who typically experience unexplained or sudden weight loss .
This establishes the medicinal use of marijuana. It only goes to prove that aside from its psychoactive property which is one of the main reasons why most critics are hesitant in supporting its legalization, marijuana has other benefits. Marijuana is effective in decreasing pain and is actually one of the golden standards used in pain management in both in-patient and out-patient hospital settings. It may also serve as an appetite stimulant and aggression regulator. Despite all of these advantages, marijuana has several established and theoretical disadvantages such as the possibility of suffering from depression and even exposing an individual to higher risks of developing multiple sclerosis .
There are literatures that state that marijuana could cause health complications such as cancer. However, results of a UCLA study show that out of the 65,000 patients, who used marijuana, none showed evidence that would lead to being at risk of cancer . In fact, it has been proven marijuana is effective in alleviating the adverse effect of chemotherapy (i.e. nausea and vomiting). Smoking pot or marijuana may actually make smokers have lower risks of developing head and neck cancer .
In addition, road accidents and similar ill-fated events are not entirely because of the use of marijuana, contrary to what most people may have seen from several news and other media sources. Critics should not put all the blame to the substance or its use just because the incidence of road-related accidents has increased. A Harvard University research conducted in 2009 suggesting that marijuana is responsible for about 14% of road-related accidents. Researchers have also failed to fully describe how several of these individuals are not behind the wheels when the accident occurred . On the other hand, if the same principle is to be made valid and applied in a court proceeding, then it must be the same for alcohol-related cases. Thus, alcohol should also be illegalized and the distribution of this substance should also stop.
If one would closely analyze the properties and effects of these two substances—alcohol and marijuana, it would lead to a conclusion that both substances are almost similar in every aspect. However, a perplexing difference is the society’s acceptance of one over the other. It is like everything depends on the people and the government’s perception. Society accepts alcohol more and is in fact more tolerant of alcohol abusers than marijuana abusers. Aside from the fact that no issue has been raised referring to the legalities of its use and distribution, alcohol usually receives very minimal criticism from the society. This is despite the very minimal benefits of alcohol use and the immense negative effects of abusing the substance.
If this will be the sole basis for this argument, then there is a weak foundation on the recommendation that marijuana should be banned. Just imagine this: compared to alcohol, marijuana has significantly more positive effects. That includes the substance’s medicinal and therapeutic properties. Alcohol on the other hand, has no such beneficial effects to users. If people will continue to argue that marijuana should be banned then the same law should also apply to alcohol. Not because the government could derive lots of financial benefits from alcohol sales, does not mean that it would not present with unfavorable consequences such as deteriorating health of the citizens and poor productivity and quality of life due to excessive use of the substance.
There could be a solution to the argument that states that marijuana is among the most abused substance. For substances that have similar properties, the government could easily impose control or regulatory measures over its distribution. Banning it would be like depriving the people of the benefits of using marijuana and surely, activists and human rights advocates would go against that.
Marijuana is harmful and a menace to the society
Sectors that are against the legalization of the use and distribution of marijuana have two solid arguments. The first argument suggests that marijuana can be highly addictive. However, it is not this nature or characteristic that makes marijuana unacceptable. It is the effect of the long-term addiction to marijuana that makes most medical professional and other concerned individuals bothered. According to the critics who are against the legalization of marijuana use and distribution, long-term abuse of the substance could lead to the degradation of social and even mental behavior. Prolonged usage of marijuana in large doses could also affect memory, judgment and perception. It may also cause the presence of sudden deviant behaviors like aggression, rebelliousness and delinquency.
As a consequence, it does not only affect the user but the possible targets of their deviant behaviors or the people around them. Typically, the target of their aggression would be the community or their immediate social circle. At the same time, studies have shown that drivers under the influence of marijuana often get involved with violent road accidents . Drivers under the influence of marijuana get into road accidents because the THC present in marijuana affects the functioning of the cerebellum responsible for balance and coordination. Marijuana causes drivers to have a slowed reaction and impaired judgment that in turn affects their ability to respond to sounds and signals. For the purpose of this argument, the opposition believes that the very reason that warrants the substance to illegality is the fact that its negative effects do not only target the people who abuse the substance but also the people around them.
On a more personal level, contrary to what the supporters of legalizing marijuana use and distribution typically say, marijuana is harmful to the user’s health and wellness. In fact, in a study conducted in 1999, the authors suggested that smoking marijuana increases the risk of developing testicular cancer . It has also been proven that Marijuana may cause shortness of breath and eventually progress into chronic respiratory problems such as Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease or COPD. Some relates the coughing, phlegm and pneumonia to smoking pot. Medical practitioners consider this alarming because this comes immediately after smoking marijuana and not from long-term use.
As a conclusion, even though this paper was able to provide solid arguments and information that supports the idea that marijuana indeed has several identified positive and negative effects, these resources are still insufficient. This is not sufficient to assert that marijuana is simply a dangerous and harmful substance because it is only the improper use of the substance that causes the adverse reactions to occur. It should also be clear that a number of substances also presents with the same property that marijuana has, like narcotics and alcohol.
However, the said substances are not illegal. In fact, it is being used and distributed under strict regulation imposed by the government. Considering this situation, legislator officials should also consider the same parameters they used in assessing the legality of Marijuana and apply it to other uncontrolled substances.
Even if it has several identified negative effects, that argument is not enough to say that it is without any benefit. If critics continue to argue using the above stated positions, then alcohol should also be considered illegal. The use of marijuana is not entirely bad provided that it is within the prescribed dosage and frequency of intake. There are many restricted drugs in the market that are as highly prone to abuse if not controlled or regulated. There is no real reason why the rule that applies to some unrestricted drugs could not be applied to marijuana. We should deprive society of the medicinal benefits of marijuana simply because of some irresponsible users who intentionally abuse the substance.
As a solution to this predicament, the proponent provides these recommendations:
– Marijuana should be included in the list of regulated drugs to control the access of this substance. This will help address the concern of abusing the substance thereby causing adverse effects.
– Assign an agency or a group that will monitor its distribution. The government should be responsible for creating this agency. At the same time, policymakers should also enact a law that would cover the use and distribution of marijuana. The role of this group is to ensure that the substance will be available only to the authorized sector on the right dosage.
– Series of researches and studies are endorsed to assess the amount of marijuana which can be tolerated by the human body to prevent abuse. Likewise, this is also being recommended to know what other illnesses can be cured or relieved by marijuana.
– There should be equal evaluation protocols that would categorize the requirements for a particular substance to be legal. This should be a standard benchmark applied to all substance to avoid biases as claimed to have happened in the case of alcoholic drinks. Alcohols, despite its addictive property and the negative effects that it has over the users, the said substance is legally distributed and served even in public establishments.
This paper intends to award the merits to those advocating the legalization of marijuana. This decision was due to the reason that the issues raised by the opposing side have clear-cut and realistic solutions. This is possible provided that the right mechanism similar to the ones applied to alcohol and other narcotic substances are executed and supervised by a government-recognized body properly. Although the opposition provided some good points, the advocates who pushed for the legalization of marijuana countered the arguments by virtue of providing specific and doable recommendations.
Budney, A., . Vandrey, R., Hughes, J., & Bahrenburg, B. (2007). Oral delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol suppresses cannabis withdrawal symptoms. Drug Alcohol Dependency Journal , 22-29.
Cancer Prevention Research Society. (2009, August 25). Could Smoking Pot Cut Risk of Head and Neck Cancer. Retrieved January 22, 2013, from Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/08/25/us-smoking-pot-idUSTRE57O5DC20090825
CarAttorneyAccident.com. (2009, April 20). Study Finds Correlation between Marijuana Use and Auto Accidents. Retrieved January 21, 2013, from CarAttorneyAccident.com: http://www.caraccidentattorneys.com/content/study-finds-correlation-between-marijuana-use-and-auto-accidents
Hashibe, M., Straif, K., Tashkin, D., Morgenstern, H., Greenland, S., & Zhang, Z. (2005). Epidemiologic review of marijuana use and cancer risk. Alcohol , 265-275.
Jones, J. (2010, August 2). Wyoming, Mississippi, Utah Rank as Most Conservative States. Retrieved January 21, 2013, from Gallup Politics: http://www.gallup.com/poll/141677/Wyoming-Mississippi-Utah-Rank-Conservative-States.aspx
Marmor, J. (1998). Medical Marijuana. Western Journal of Medicine , 540-543.
McKim, W. (2002). An Introduction to Behavioral Pharmacology (5 ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Ha.
O’Hanlon, J., Vermeeren, A., Uiterwijk, M., van Veggel, L., & Swijgman, H. (1995). Anxiolytics’ effects on the actual driving performance of patients and healthy volunteers in a standardized test: an integration of three studies. Neuropsychobiology , 81-88.
Stafford, P. (1992). Psychedelics Encyclopedia. California: Ronin Publishing, Inc.
The American Cancer Society. (2009, February 9). Marijuana Linked to Aggressive Testicular Cancer. Retrieved January 21, 2013, from Drugs.com: http://www.drugs.com/news/marijuana-linked-aggressive-testicular-cancer-16054.html