Marijuana/Cannabis Legalization: Good or Bad?

James Booth

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A source of debate in many countries is the legalization of marijuana. Outlawed in the states since 1925 due to the international opium convention, marijuana has provoked many arguments. While most of these arguments used to be against marijuana, the public opinion is slowly changing.  I for one think marijuana should be legal, regulated and taxed like cigarettes and alcohol.

With all the research and evidence provided, I think marijuana should be legalized in the U.S.A .It has been argued that marijuana could have many beneficial impacts on modern medicine. The American Cancer Society reports that aside from giving chemotherapy patients an appetite, cancer patients who used marijuana had less need for painkillers because marijuana kills neuropathic pain or pain from nerve cells. The A.C.S even reports that “THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in lab dishes” (SOURCE). Provided this research, it’s hard to believe that marijuana isn’t yet legal when something proven to cause cancer is legally sold and taxed to anyone 18 and older.  Despite these arguments and the research provided, marijuana has been ridiculed as a gateway drug as well as addictive, even though it is proven safer to use than alcohol. ProCon’s article on marijuana versus alcohol was astounding!

In 2007, a team of experts was formed to conduct an analysis on the relative harms of marijuana, alcohol, and other drugs for the esteemed British medical journal the Lancet. It concluded that marijuana posed far fewer health and safety risks than alcohol. That same year, research commissioned by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare arrived at the same conclusion. Specifically, it determined that alcohol was a significant contributor to death and responsible for 3.2% of the total burden of disease and injury in Australia, whereas marijuana was responsible for zero deaths and just 0.2% of the total burden of disease and injury. (ProCon)

Multiple professional studies show that marijuana is safer than alcohol. The level of impairment observed while someone is drinking alcohol is significantly higher. Alcohol is also a significant contributor to domestic violence cases, whereas people using marijuana do not show any violent tendencies, according to Procon’s article on marijuana and alcohol safety comparisons. Furthermore,  alcohol is not only mentally addictive but physically as well; alcoholics’ bodies develop physical addiction and can actually die from withdrawals. Marijuana, on the other hand, has little to no addictive properties and even those who develop a mental dependence cannot die when withdrawing. This recreational drug is the one of the only effective painkillers that has no opiates. Opiates, commonly found in nearly all painkillers, are what cause addiction, according to the Painkiller Addiction Treatment website. This is just one of the major benefits of using marijuana for pain relief.

There are many arguments against marijuana legalization. One of the main protests is that marijuana smoke is more harmful than cigarette smoke because of the amount of smoke and that it has no filter. Even though marijuana has never been linked to a single case of lung cancer, people are still skeptical (Time Magazine).  Another common argument is that marijuana causes lower I.Q. later in life for people who begin using in their teenage years. This problem, which is founded on little research, can easily avoided by simply prohibiting sale to anyone under the age of 21, just like alcohol.

Given the same restrictions as alcohol and packaged like cigarettes, marijuana is a gold mine waiting to be opened. CNBC reports in one of its articles that if legalized nationwide, marijuana could bring in 35 to 45 billion annually as a country. This would make it one of the biggest cash crops of  the country, falling second only to tobacco products. With the money earned, the government could easily repay a lot of the national debt.

The government wouldn’t just make money off the sale and taxation of marijuana, it would also save money; how many people are sitting in jail over possession of marijuana? Too many. According to the New York Times and  The Washington Post, “police make more arrests for marijuana possession alone than for all violent crimes combined.” “The arrests can overwhelm court systems,” the New York Times states as it goes on to say that Dianne Jones, 45, was arrested for possessing a small quantity of marijuana AND spent ten whole days in jail because she couldn’t put up the $2,500 bail.”“In 2015, more than 78% of people sentenced to incarceration for felony drug possession in Texas possessed under a gram.” As most people know, it costs the US quite a lot of money to hold all the criminals. By legalizing marijuana, we would decrease number of inmates we have to incarcerate and inevitably pay for, therefore saving the government money.

Compared to the landslide of benefits marijuana has to offer, the negative impacts are almost non-existent. When compared to cigarettes, marijuana is many times less harmful. Then when compared to alcohol, the level of impairment is almost nonexistent as well as the inclination to cause physical harm or damage property. The positive impact this recreational drug could have on America’s economy is undeniable. I hope the country wises up and sees this in the near future.

 

Works Cited

Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2016. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 16 May 2017.

Marijuana Policy Project. “Research Shows That Marijuana Use Is Safer than Alcohol Use.” The Legalization of Marijuana, edited by Noël Merino, Greenhaven Press, 2016. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 16 May 2017. Originally published as “Marijuana Is Safer than Alcohol: It’s Time to Treat It That Way,”.

“Addictive Ingredients in Painkillers.” Painkiller Addiction Treatment. Web. 31 May 2017.

Drug Policy Alliance. “Marijuana Should Be Fully Legalized, Not Just Decriminalized.” The

Legalization of Marijuana, edited by Noël Merino, Greenhaven Press, 2016. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 16 May 2017. Originally published as “Why Is Marijuana Decriminalization Not Enough?”, Jan. 2015

Szalavitz, Maia. “10 Reasons to Revisit Marijuana Policy Now.” Time. Time, 13 June 2012. Web. 05 June 2017.