Marijuana has always been a much-talked about topic that has sparked fiery debates among authorities and lawmakers as well as an endless discussion among family and colleagues. This is primarily due to the fact that people are still divided on whether or not marijuana should be legalized or not.
Weighing down on the positive and the negative effects of this drug can be a result of a never-ending debate. So how do we resolve this once and for all?
In this article, we will cite the dangers and advantages of legalizing marijuana to be able to come up with a clearer picture of how marijuana should stand in our society. By laying out all the pros and cons, it may help people make informed decisions about using (or not using) marijuana.
Update on Marijuana Legalization in the U.S.
The U.S. elections in November 8, 2016 marked a very significant move among seven states in relation to marijuana legalization for either medical and recreational purposes. Each state, however, has made provisions on the extent of the use and sale of marijuana.
States that Legalize Marijuana Use
It was probably not an easy decision for these U.S. states to come up with a unified conclusion of legalizing marijuana. Each state that approved marijuana for medical or recreational use were required to set provisions on the quantity of marijuana that individuals are allowed to purchase, and the method of distribution for the substance.
Selling and consuming marijuana is still prohibited under federal law. With this in mind, everyone is expected to abide by the rules governing the use of marijuana specific in every state.
Here is a state-by-state breakdown of the status of marijuana legalization:
States where marijuana is legal for medical and recreational use
Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Maine, Nevada, Massachusetts, Washington D.C.
States where marijuana is decriminalized
Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont
States where marijuana is legal for medical purposes
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington (also Washington D.C.)
Is Marijuana Legalization Good or Bad?
The status of marijuana has now been clearly defined in the states mentioned above. Whether they should remain legal or not is still a question among so many people. Here are some of the positive and negative effects of marijuana legalization:
Pros of Legalizing Marijuana
Possible boost in revenue
While the black market has earned much from selling this type of drug, the government is seeking for ways on how they can increase their revenue in order to fund projects such as building parks and road repairs. Legalizing marijuana redirects the profit from the black market to government funding to support future projects, with taxes imposed on selling marijuana used for the benefit of the general public
More effective law enforcement
Legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana use allows police authorities to focus on other crimes. Although implementation of the marijuana law stipulations will be monitored by police and key government agencies, law enforcement personnel can now shift their priorities towards other pressing police matters.
Reduction of drug-related organized crime
Legalizing marijuana will decrease the amount of money used to support organized crime. It is believed that legalizing marijuana will prevent illegal traders from selling and cut down crimes that are related to drug trades.
Wider access to medical use
This may be the second reason why pro-marijuana users are trying to push for legalization of marijuana. Medical marijuana has become popular to have significant positive effects on patients suffering from chronic pain, especially those who have cancer.
While there may be health professionals who choose to prescribe this, it has been difficult for patients to find a store that can provide them with cannabis. By legalizing marijuana, stores can be put up for as long as they abide by the rules imposed under the law. The availability of cannabis in approved medical marijuana dispensaries allows patients to have access to the drug.
So much emphasis has been put on the medical benefits of legalizing marijuana, as it can help manage pain felt by patients experiencing nerve damage, trauma, and cancer. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the active ingredient of cannabis – makes it possible for patients to be relieved of pain. Apart from pain management, marijuana is also known to prevent health conditions associated with Alzheimer’s disease among the elderly. THC is also believed to stop the formation of plaques in the brain.
Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy tend to throw up during the process. Giving them marijuana helps them keep their food down. It is also believed to help in the treatment of insomnia, glaucoma, asthma, lung cancer and breast cancer.
Better substance control
Illicit drugs have become all the rage in public scenes, most especially at rave parties, clubs, and concerts. Unfortunately, the lack of regulations for these substances lead some people with malicious intent to sell a different substance to mimic the effect of the purported drug, without the buyer knowing about it.
By legalizing marijuana, the user is knows exactly what he is buying and the exact quantity that is given to him. Most street drugs – and especially those of the dangerous kind – do not comply with this kind of standard.
Freedom of choice
People have the right to their own choices, drugs included. Whether something can be good or bad for us, it is our own discretion on whether to use it or not. The legalization of marijuana allows people to get enough information to make their own decisions, without the stigma of being prosecuted.
Reduction of drug-related disputes
Illegal drug trade may sometimes get into serious situations such as personal conflicts or life-thratening crimes. In the case of illicit drugs, you cannot run to the police to complain about product disputes with a trader. In contrast, any dispute with regards to trade, use, manufacture and distribution of marijuana can be settled legally in the court of law.
Loss of business among drug dealers
Drug dealers take advantage by selling drugs at a very high price. By standardizing the cost of marijuana, it will prevent drug dealers for selling it at exorbitant prices. Making marijuana available anytime and anywhere would mean a decrease in revenue for drug dealers.
Cons of Legalizing Marijuana
This is the most popular reason why many anti-marijuana advocates are opposing the legalization of the substance. Marijuana is composed of more than 400 chemicals, with THC being responsible for producing the “high” effect that makes an individual yearn for more. Constant use of marijuana may develop tolerance to the drug, and eventually dependence and addiction.
The effect of marijuana takes place within 15 minutes. One of the effects is having a distorted perception, which may lead to serious situations such as vehicular accidents or machine equipment injuries. Marijuana use is reported to be the most commonly used drug especially in the workplace.
Gateway to more dangerous drugs
Marijuana may become the stepping stone for drug users to get a higher “high”. This situation leads them to use cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, and other highly potent drugs.
One study showed that an individual who used weed with alcohol and cigarette is 2-3 times more likely to abuse prescription drugs. Marijuana legalization may become an open avenue for people to use cannabis for recreational purposes, thus increasing societal and financial costs for the treatment of those who shifted to much heavier drugs.
Increase in accidents and risk to public safety
There has been an increase in the number of vehicular accidents due to driving under the influence of alcohol, and the same number can be said of marijuana use. Smoking weed while driving can cause lapses in judgment and other harder crimes such as robbery and rape.
High possibility of child exposure
Alcohol and cigarettes are prohibited from being sold to children. This is mainly because their bodies may be incapable of taking in such substances. Children are naturally curious, and they may be tempted to try these substances.
Having said this, making marijuana legal would make it more accessible to children. We definitely would not want our children to be caught up with drugs, and legalizing marijuana may increase the risk of their exposure to such substances.
Exposure to secondhand smoke from cigarettes has long been known to be dangerous to human health. The legalization of marijuana increases exposure of people to cannabis smoke, which may not be any safer than cigarette smoke.
Adverse effects on the brain
It a frightening fact to imagine how much damage marijuana use can do to the human brain. It is believed that even after a month of abstinence, marijuana use can have a serious impact on the flow of blood in the brain. Not having enough oxygen in the brain can lead to serious conditions such as coma or death.
Serious lung condition
Similar to smoking tobacco cigarettes, the impact of marijuana intake to the lungs can be significant. In fact, marijuana magnifies the adverse effect to at least 10 times more. A user tends to inhale and hold the smoke longer than he would with an ordinary cigarette, making him more prone to cancer-causing chemicals.
Increased risk of heart disease
The overall health condition of a marijuana user may be impaired. Apart from the possibility of contracting lung disease, there is also a greater possibility of acquiring heart diseases because of the chemicals that can cause obstruction in the natural blood flow throughout the body as well as the exchange of oxygen in and out of the body.
Smoking marijuana may increase heart rate up to 100 percent, thereby increasing the risk of cardiac arrest or heart attack.
Decreased mental function and health
The main target of any kind of drug is the central nervous system, in which the brain is the main organ. Researchers have noted a possible link between marijuana use and mental illness. Cannabis use may interfere with a person’s capacity to use stimuli, organize information, focus or concentrate, and make proper decisions.
The effect can last for several weeks after use, which can really affect one’s judgment. This is extremely dangerous most especially to young individuals who are still at the stage of brain development. Some of the mental disorders associated with marijuana use are depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.
Several other states are looking forward to belong to the list of U.S. states that legalize marijuana use. This could prove to be a never-ending battle between those who are in favor and those who oppose its legalization.
It may be highly improbable for the complete withdrawal of U.S. states that have already legalized marijuana use. What should be made important is focusing on the implementation of the rules governing marijuana legalization. This also requires the concerted efforts of lawmakers, authorities, treatment specialists and the local government to work hand in hand to maintain a community free from marijuana addiction and all its other undesirable effects.
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