Legalizing marijuana can have medical and economic benefits, yet it could also create problems socially and lead to serious health risks. The legalization could be just a way for those who frequently inhale to do so with out any legal ramifications. Some doctors prescribe the drug for healing purposes, pain management, and for people suffering from eating disorders. But although it has some health benefits, in some ways, smoking the drug would be more harmful to the body than good. Also, is marijuana gateway drug? Yes, in a way it is. Legislators believe that by legalizing marijuana use, this will help save money by having law officials only arrest people who possessed more than an one ounce of marijuana.
Although there is much controversy of marijuana use there are some who believe marijuana can have a positive affect on the body. There are 14 states including Washington DC where marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes only. Some doctors believe that smoking the drug can relieve several different aliments such as analgesia (pain relief), nausea, and vomiting. People suffering from cancer that are being treated with chemotherapy become very ill and nauseated. With the aide of marijuana these symptoms can be relieved. It can help relieve symptoms from such illnesses as multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and AIDS. Also people who suffer from eating disorders and from AIDS-related wasting syndrome can benefit from the use of this drug as well. The chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana stimulates the appetite and the need to satisfy it. If not the patient would waste away. In glaucoma patients THC has been shown to reduce intraocular pressure, but only when the patient stayed under the effects of THC almost continuously. Indeed marijuana is less toxic, therefore safer for the body, then the medicines and treatments that are used for such diseases/ illnesses. Residents who live in these 14 states can now get prescriptions from their doctor to help with their pain management. However, their employers aren’t so understanding. In some cases, employees have been fired for failing drug tests even though they have a prescription and the employers are aware of the situation. Many companies are committed to drug-free workplace policies and compliance with federal law, which does not permit the use of marijuana, even for medicinal purposes. So yes, by using the drug it can definitely help those who do suffer from serious illnesses. But is losing your job worth it in the end? Or is it worth being stoned 24/ 7 in order to get relief?
Although there are plenty of good sides of using cannabis for medicinal reasons there are also several health risks too. People who smoke cigarettes put themselves at risk for developing lung cancer, COPD, emphysema and other ailments. But smoking marijuana was found to cause ones airway to swell and lead to a greater risk of chronic bronchitis. In 2006 a neurologic study of heavy marijuana users was conducted. The test showed that the speed of thinking, attention and verbal fluency was affected as much as 70 percent.  Heavy cannabis users can suffer from cannabis psychosis. Which has many of the same symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. A semi- recent study found that cannabis abuse greatly increased the risk of developing mental health problems in adolescents who had a genetic high risk of schizophrenia- spectrum disorders. Although marijuana is believed to not be addictive, studies have shown that out of a selected populating 46% had used marijuana and 9% had become addicted. Addicted individuals suffer from serious withdrawal symptoms. Including cravings for the drug, decreased appetite resulting in weight loss, and sometimes anger, aggression, increased irritability, strange dreams, and seizures. In older users abuse of marijuana can cause cardiovascular problems such as tachyarrhythmia and acute coronary syndrome, and stroke. If you were to use marijuana to help suppress symptoms of an illness, it wouldn’t be worth it to trade the relief for the negative affects that’s caused by the use of the drug.
Marijuana, the countries most used illicit drug is typically not thought to be a gateway drug. Close to 100 million Americans, including more than half between the ages of 18-50 who have tried marijuana do so before they try any other illicit drug. But the vast majority of Americans who have used marijuana have not gone on to use other illegal drugs such as alcohol, cocaine and heroin. If marijuana didn’t exist there's little reason to believe that there would be less drug abuse in the U.S. A study found that there was little difference between a person choosing to use cocaine then the same person using marijuana. A more recent study does not support the hypothesis that marijuana use lead to increased use of other dangerous drugs among the public. Andrew Golub and Bruce Johnson of the National Development and Research Institute in New York wrote that those who were born before and after the baby boomers weren’t likely to move on to rougher drugs.
“The recent increase in youthful marijuana use has been offset by lower rates of progression to hard drug use among youths born in the 1970s. Dire predictions of future hard drug abuse by youths who came of age in the 1990s may be greatly overstated” (Golub & Johnson 2001).
Never before have Americans supported decriminalization more then they do now. Seventy-two percent say that people who posses a small amount of marijuana shouldn’t be incarcerated but fined. Police make about 700,000 arrests a year for marijuana offenses, which is almost the same number of those who are arrested for cocaine, ecstasy and heroin combined. These marijuana arrests are for nothing more then people being in possession of small amounts. Enforcing marijuana laws costs about 10-15 million dollars in direct costs alone. Punishments range from a fine to a few days in jail to years. In Alabama people who are found with even a joint while on parole can face up to 15 years in jail. There are probably 100,000 (no exact estimate) of people who are currently locked up now for a marijuana offense. Some may say this is simply an overreaction of the government. Rhode Island Joshua Miller led a Senate issue that studied how the states could be saving money in this situation. He concluded that the state could save money and free up law enforcement to investigate more serious crimes if people were allowed to posses only 1 ounce of marijuana. Nothing more.
“It doesn’t make sense to have our cash-strapped state spend millions trying to put people in prison for possessing a little of something that is arguably less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco.” (Miller, 2010)
Senator Miller is currently working on a bill that would replace misdemeanor penalties for a small possession of the drug to a more civil penalty. Under the new bill violators will pay a small fine of $150 dollars for a first offense. The bill would also require spending the new revenue that’s been saved, on drug awareness and treatment programs for youth. This is a chance not only to free up police so they could spend they’re time working on bigger cases, but it also helps bring in a little more money that can be use for the greater good.
Through out the country many states, especially California, have been trying to legalize the use of marijuana. Although some states have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, people still are getting arrested for being in possession of it and even fired from their jobs although they have a prescription for the drug. Like all drugs, marijuana use has its pros and its cons. When used heavily it can cause several health problems, including chronic diseases and irreversible dementation. But when used under a doctor’s supervision it can often relieve the symptoms a patient may be suffering from. Indeed although changing the laws about marijuana will most likely lead to greater use of the drug it will also free up money for the states and freeing up the time of law enforcement. Like all issues, they all have their pros and cons. The only question is, what side weighs more in the hands of society. To me any kind of drug use is wrong. After seeing how a person can benefit from the use of marijuana it still hasn’t changed my view. It’s not worth losing my sanity, risking stroke, cardiovascular problems or even having to go through the withdrawal symptoms for any kind of relief for pain or nausea.
· 1. Boyter, Jennifer. "States Get the Munchies for New Revenue That Might Come..." Capitol Ideas Vol. No.. Jul/Aug 2010: 32-33. SIRS Researcher.
· 2. Danovitch, Itai. "Smoking Pot Is No Party." Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA). 05 Oct 2010: A.15. SIRS Researcher
· 3. Mascia, Jennifer. "A Physician's Prescription Can Cost You Your Job." International Herald Tribune (Paris, France). 30 Aug 2010: 16. SIRS Researcher.
· 4. McManis, Sam. "Legalize It? Medical Evidence on Marijuana Blows Both Ways." Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, CA). 22 May 2009: n.p. SIRS Researcher.
· 5. Jones, Tim. "Across Midwest, Interest in Medical Marijuana Grows." Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL). 20 Jul 2008: n.p. SIRS Researcher.
· 6. Nadelmann, Ethan A. "An End to Marijuana Prohibition." National Review. 12 Jul 2004: 28+. SIRS Researcher.
· 7. Golub A, Johnson BD. Variation in youthful risks of progression from alcohol and tobacco to marijuana and to hard drugs across generations. Am J Public Health 2001;91(2):225-32.