The case of legalizing medical marijuana is among the most debated arguments. Oncologists have recommended marijuana therapy for patients according to Harvard study 1991. HIV and AIDS patients have also found marijuana to be an exceptional treatment for wasting syndrome. Although research has proven these and thousands of AIDS patients have found relief from the use of marijuana, the federal government has blocked any further research into the issue. Further research may be needed, but evidence shows that marijuana may help as an anti-convulsion in people with spinal injuries, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. Still other research shows that marijuana may be a strong pain reliever for people suffering from chronic pain, cancer, migraines, rheumatism, and other auto-immune diseases. Marijuana can treat such a wide range of illnesses and has endorsements from major medical organizations like the New England Journal of Medicine. The government refuses to allow further research into the uses of medical marijuana, even with all the proven results and national endorsements from health agencies. A 2006 report found that marijuana was America’s largest cash crop, estimating its value to be $35.8 billion dollars. That is more than corn and wheat, at $23.3 billion and $7.5 billion, combined. That is $13.9 billion dollars in extra revenue that the government would have at their disposal every year. Besides revenue earned from the legalized sale and taxation of marijuana, the government would save money arresting, prosecuting and jailing users (Caulkins, 2012.p.867). The number of marijuana arrests is overwhelming. About 700,000 people are arrested each year for marijuana offenses. That is almost equivalent to the total arrests for all other illegal drugs combined. More than two-thirds of these arrests, 87% to be exact, are for possession only, and for most of these people who are arrested, marijuana possession will be the only arrest of their lives. This is where the economic benefits collide with the social benefits of legalizing marijuana. Arrests for marijuana possession can affect many aspects of a person’s life. The federal Higher Education Act makes it impossible for a person with a drug conviction, even minor possession, to obtain a federal student loan to attend college. What we must understand about this act is that a person convicted of any other crime, including murder, can receive these students loans, but a drug charge will automatically exclude someone. Perhaps the most sobering thought is that a person can become a convicted felon due to an arrest for marijuana possession. This seems so ridiculous when we understand that 11 million people smoke marijuana on a regular basis, and 80 million Americans have admitted to trying it. Opponents to legalizing marijuana argue many points. One of the arguments is that marijuana is a gateway drug. This is untrue. Out of the 100 million people who have tried marijuana only 3.5 million have tried marijuana, equaling .17%. That is not even near to the number marijuana prohibitionists would like society to believe, technically that is not even a whole person. What people should start to consider is that the gateway effect happens because marijuana is illegal. People buying marijuana from dealers is where they get exposed to harder drugs.
In reality legalizing marijuana would stop the gateway effect. Opponents of legalization will try to make us believe that marijuana is a dangerous and deathly potent substance. The increase in potency is greatly exaggerated; however, more potent marijuana is better for the person smoking it because the amount needed to achieve the high is less. This means marijuana smokers are not inhaling as many irritants (MPP.org, 2007). Marijuana is not a deadly substance it is non-toxic, and people cannot die from an overdose smoking weed. In reality, more people die from legal substances like alcohol, cigarettes, and prescription drugs each year than have ever died from marijuana use. Children have always been a major point in the argument against legalizing marijuana. Legalizing and regulating marijuana would virtually do away with the use by children. Laws would regulate the sale of marijuana just like they do on alcohol and tobacco. Essentially, legalizing and regulating marijuana is one of the best ways to keep it out of the hands of children. Any logically thinking person can see the arguments opponents use to fight the legalization of marijuana have exaggerated attempts to keep marijuana illegal.
Caulkins, J., Kilmer, B., MacCoun, R., Pacula, R. L., & Reuter, P. (2012). Design Considerations for Legalizing Marijuana. Addiction, 107(5), 865-871.