Marijuana is one of the most abused drugs in the world. Due to its medicinal purposes, it is impossible to completely get rid of it. The pertinent issue on whether to legalise it or not has been debated on quite a number of times. On one hand, there are critics who view this miracle plant as a destructive owing to its negative effects. On the other hand, supporters cite its medicinal and relaxation effects. It is legal to use marijuana medically but the use of marijuana for recreation is illegal in most places. Whether or not the use of marijuana should be legalised is dependent on how well these two sides present their arguments.
This debate began as early as 1969 in some countries. Quite a number of pros and cons of legalising marijuana have been unearthed since then. Research has shown that marijuana follows tobacco and alcohol in the list of most commonly used recreational drugs (Strang, Witton and Hall, 2000). Currently, 30 million people use marijuana for recreation in America alone. This number has been increasing consistently in other continents over the years. Quite a number of people have been incarcerated for using this drug in places where it has not been legalised. It is quite clear that the debate on legalising marijuana unearths ethical and moral dilemmas.
Pros of Legalising Marijuana
As a way of prohibiting and discouraging the use of this drug, conferences and seminars are planned (Strang, Witton and Hall, 2000). Here, young people are taught the negative effects of the drug. Enlightening people in this way has had a lot of positive effects especially among the youth. However, the reality of the picture is that a lot of money and resources are being spent in most of these seminars. Approximately 1.7 billion dollars are spent yearly in this quest (George et al, 2005). The cost benefit analysis reveals an imbalanced and discrepancies as there is still an increase in the use of this drug. These resources could be used for other purposes of more importance.
Quite a number of people are in prison after having been incarcerated for illegal possession or use of marijuana. In as much as this erodes the world of criminals, the big picture is that it costs a lot of money to sustain these people in prison. Research has shown that approximately three billion dollars are used in the process of incarcerating these criminals. State expenditures are also on the rise owing to the different task forces created to investigate these cases. Nonetheless, the cases of marijuana use are still on the rise. This implies that this exercise is not cost effective. A free flow system will be a major blow to drug related crime.
The proponent of the concept of the theory of utilitarianism argued that people choose to pick an action with the best result when given a choice. People always tend to take an action which will produce a non- harmful result. However, any restriction adds more thrills to the process and this is probably why marijuana is abused (Allan and Samuel, 2004). By legalising marijuana for recreational use, such a scenario can be avoided.
Owing to its medicinal value, marijuana sells quite highly in the market. This is regardless of the purpose it is intended for. It also has an all time unseasonal market. Legalising marijuana for recreational purposes will increase the size of this market, resulting to high revenues. This is possible looking at the enormous potential windfall of taxes from marijuana. Furthermore, this will contribute to solving the issue of unemployment from the industries that will be created. As such, economic development and growth is inevitable.
Cons of Legalising Marijuana
There have been concerns over legalising marijuana based on the effects of abusing this drug. The fallacy is that legalising this drug may place the younger susceptible generation at risk. However, it should be noted that consumer rights groups have tried to control the use of tobacco and alcohol by warning on the negative effects of overconsumption. They have also created laws to prevent any underage from accessing such drugs. Nonetheless, the reality based on research is astounding. Apparently, 87% of all teenagers will have access to alcohol and drugs (George et al, 2005). 95% of adults still consume the same products regardless of the consequences. The war on drugs seems to be a failure.
It is clear that the government has been unable to control the consumption of some of the top drugs. However, it may be a different case with marijuana. For instance; in California, one is not allowed to grow the plant in a space larger than 5 feet by 5 feet. This controls production which controls consumption and thus less chances of abuse. In fact, reports from medical facilities have shown a reduction in abuse of marijuana in states where it is legal.
An argument against the legalisation of marijuana for recreational use is based on the fact that marijuana is highly addictive. The chemical and euphoric effects produced by marijuana are not as strong as those produced by cocaine and heroin (Alan and Samuel, 2004). In fact, when compared to alcohol the difference is minimal. There is thus a lesser chance of addiction. The American Psychiatric Association did a twelve year study on this argument and their conclusion was that the use of marijuana does not lead to addiction to any stronger drugs. Other factors come into play when it comes to addiction.
Marijuana is known to come with some health risks especially for the brain. Apparently, this drug affects how the brain works and causes hallucinations in some cases (George et al, 2005). Prolonged use can exacerbate these effects. Strang, Witton and Hall (2000) delved further into this issue. Their conclusion was that according to recent research, marijuana produces almost the same effects as alcohol in the brain of a human being. The only difference is the immediate effect produced by marijuana. Therefore, other factors come into play for marijuana to affect the mental development of an individual. Therefore, marijuana does not solely cause harmful effects to the mental being of an individual.
Even without legalising marijuana, the drug is still being produced, manufactured and consumed. This means that people are planting it and it is a source of income for many. The pertinent question is on simplifying this issue and making the drug an economic stimulus package. It is obvious that with legalisation, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Therefore, legalising marijuana for recreational and legal purposes will save the world in a big way. It is impossible to solely use marijuana for medical purposes.
Alan, J., & Samuel, Y. (2004). Legalisation of Marijuana: Potential Effect on Youth. Paediatrics, 113, 632-638.
George C., Carolyn C., John B C., Louisa D., Michael L., & Wayne Hall. (2005). Cannabis Use and Mental Health in Young People: Cohort Study. BMJ, 1, 325-525.
Strang, J., Witton, J &Hall, W. (2000). Improving the quality of the cannabis debate: defining the different domains.BMJ, 320, 108-119.