The use of marijuana has been an issue of contention for a long time; as such, the debate on whether it should be legalized as elicited heated debates. Medical experts, sociologists, politicians and religious leaders have had a say in the matter, each with his/her own informed opinion on the subject. However, the most profound issue that emerges from the debate on the legalization or not of marijuana; is its impacts of the health of consumers. In addition, some have argued that the legalization of marijuana will lead to the development of a society that is influenced by drugs; hence the reference to a society ridden with pot heads.
While a significant number of arguments have been presented on the moral, medical, sociological and societal implications of allowing the use of marijuana; the medical evidence presented on the impact of using marijuana have deemed it a moderately safe substance for recreation use and valuable substance for medical use. This paper will present an argument for the legalization marijuana on the basis of its medical and economic implications to the society.
The benefits that will arise from the legalization of marijuana are various; however, among these are the potential economic contributions that marijuana could present to the economy. County, state and federal governments have continued to experience a shortfall in the budgets; as a result, the available resources have been apportioned to various projects on the basis of proportionate allocation according to the available funds. In the meantime, illegal trade of marijuana has resulted in billions of dollars being lost to criminal enterprises.
Therefore, in an economic perspective, the legalization of marijuana should be allowed because of the potential financial benefits that will result in the form of taxes, creation of employment and increasing wealth for the local communities. It has been estimated that the funds that will be potentially derived from the legalization of marijuana will amount to billions annually (Mizingo). This translates to increased revenue for the governments for use in various projects and creation of employment; hence reducing the incidence of poverty.
While most agree there are more negative effect of marijuana, we have compiled research regarding the positive uses of marijuana. If marijuana were to be legalized, the country would save billions on law enforcement and prohibition costs. Revenues from taxing would bring billions of dollars to help the country's growing deficit. Marijuana has been noted to sooth various types of symptoms, for various types of diseases.
The persistence of criminal enterprises that trade in illegal marijuana has thrived and continued to rise again and again because of the high value attached to marijuana and its potential to create wealth. It is evident that whether the government agrees or disagrees, a significant number of people, more so, the younger generations are users of recreational marijuana. Therefore, though the drug enforcement agencies (DEA) may disband one or two criminal enterprises that sell illegal marijuana, others will emerge to fill the gap (Earleywine 225). This is because the market forces of demand and supply will always triumph in the face of legal restrictions.
The government cannot win the war against drugs if it does not take affirmative action in as far as the legalization of marijuana is concerned. Though there are those criminals who trade in marijuana as their sole product, a significant number of these criminals have various drugs in their possession. Therefore, the legalization of marijuana will not only save the drug enforcement agencies a significant percent of their resources that are allocated to combating the drug trade, it will also unmask those criminals using marijuana as a front to sell hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
According to research, it has been found that the use of marijuana has mild effects in contrast to the use of alcohol and cigarettes combined (Earleywine 274). This indicates that among the legalized substances; there are those that are more harmful to human consumption than marijuana. However, the marijuana is demonized not on the basis of scientific evidence but on moral grounds and perceived effects that have not been scientifically proven.
Therefore, the opponents of legalizing marijuana based their arguments on hypocritical notions that are unfounded and unproven. Furthermore, they should consider the impacts of alcohol and tobacco on human health and the number of deaths that have occurred (Earleywine 213); as a result of using these legal substances. Meanwhile, there are no recorded statistics that associate the cause of death to the use of marijuana. In this respect, it is prudent to state that marijuana as far safer for recreational consumption in contrast to other legalized substances that have continued to cause significant losses in human lives, property and degradation of social behavior.
The medical applications of marijuana are another attribute that cannot be ignored. Various studies have found that marijuana eases the severity of nausea and pain in terminally ill patients such as those suffering from cancer. As such, the use of marijuana enables such patients to retain the food they have consumed in their stomachs (Earleywine 127); hence it reduces the incidence of weakness that results in poor nutrition as a factor of such terminal illnesses.
In this respect, the use of marijuana has been found to cause cancerous cells in the affected areas to feed on one another; subsequently, leaving healthy cells unaffected. Furthermore, the use of medical marijuana have been observed to have encouraging results in Alzheimer's patients in preventing the deterioration of their conditions (Earleywine 127-128). Though these are some of the medical applications of marijuana, researchers continue to research the applications and benefits of marijuana since there are many more. These are adequate reasons to champion the legalization of marijuana.
According to the Marijuana Medical Handbook: Practical Guide to Therapeutic Uses of Marijuana “The DEA's own administrative judge Francis Young, in his 1988 decision recommending legalization of medical marijuana, wrote, “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to mankind (Gieringer, 39) This is a statement that helps back the utilitarianism view.
There are various studies that show the medicinal uses of marijuana such as in easing symptoms associated with AIDS/ HIV, Hepatitis C, multiple scleroses, spinal injuries epilepsy. There are a few adverse effects that have to be taken into consideration, the short term effect is the inhalation of smoke which increases bronchodilation, and long term effects could impair lung function that could lead to lung disease.
In addition, one could have cardiovascular issues such as rapid heartbeat and increase in blood pressure, although these only last for a short time for one with a preexisting condition it could be harmful; however there is no record of anyone dying from a marijuana overdose. In order for marijuana to reach a lethal dose of marijuana an average sized person would have to smoke over 400 joints in one sitting because a fatal dose of marijuana is 125mg of THC per kilogram of body weight, however most marijuana joints only contain 20mg of THC (Mizingo).
In a more realistic perspective, a person has a higher likelihood of dying from smoke inhalation, than from the impact of using marijuana, yet it is still illegal. How is it that tobacco and alcohol which have proven to cause thousands of deaths per year still legal, even though the toxicity of nicotine and alcohol is much higher than that of marijuana? While there are no dangers to the brain besides short term memory loss and minor lung airway problems that have occurred while smoking marijuana; there is no conclusive data that discloses any definite increases in lung cancer; as a result, of using marijuana.
Significantly, there are various ways of ingesting marijuana including eating, vaporization and smoking (Earleywine 141). Though marijuana contains carcinogens; it does not have more negative side effects than several other popular prescription drugs. In fact, there is substantial evidence that proves marijuana has therapeutic values. In the event that government were to legalize and tax marijuana, the amount of revenue would be substantial and take into consideration the money that would be saved from the people who were imprisoned for possession charges.
Taxing marijuana has a few benefits, for example, it could maintain its current price, and it could also make certain a quality product that would be free of contaminants or impurities. According to the LA Times, The state Board of Equalization gives a very rough estimate that it collects up to $105 million a year in sales tax from stores that are doing up to $1.3 billion a year in sales (Mozingo).
The world is constantly changing, and the legalization of medicinal marijuana is among the changes that must occur. This is beneficial for all of the people who suffer from serious pain and illness. Concerns of decriminalization of marijuana are unfounded since states that have legalized medicinal marijuana have seen little impact on the amount of use. Knowledge is essential and the more knowledge we have about marijuana and the implications of its use; it will then take the fear out of a number of people in society who thinks that marijuana should not be legal.
The country spends too much time, and financial resources fighting a drug that could help the country grow (Mizingo). It could open up new jobs and medicines to help the sick and the farmers. We spend so much money arresting people for smoking and selling marijuana when we could change that and bring money to a nation that has seen dramatic hardships in the past few years. People are afraid of change, however, and they must choose to make a change. Without change, nothing is learned or gained.
Marijuana is an illegal drug because we allow it to be an illegal drug, and we allow people to get killed and maimed over this drug. Where there is a will, there is a way; therefore, people find ways of getting what they want. People are taking risks selling an illegal drug, and hence the reason for the high prevalence of the marijuana-related violence. We should put our focus on stopping other drugs like meth and crack drugs that people die on and drugs that break up families and homes and put children in orphanages.
The opponents of the legalization of medical marijuana say it would cause more problems and lead to greater drug use. They also argue that drugs lead and contribute to the high rates of poverty and crime. Therefore, legalization of marijuana would prevent the courts from ordering mandatory addiction treatments. While some concern of marijuana legalization is merited, it is evident that government agencies' including the DEA need to contribute towards funding of the extensive research that is needed to treat certain medical issues.
This is based on the fact that the lack of cooperation from the DEA has been unduly blocked towards this end. It is evident that the government has absolute control on issues concerning the legalization of marijuana; though it has numerous resources invested in the drug enforcement agencies, it should consider the benefits against the drawbacks of legalizing marijuana. The resistance to legalization can be attributed to fear that the government will be perceived as having wasted taxpayers money in its persistent fight against marijuana; while it is a potential source of revenue.
Looking at alcohol and tobacco, two substances that have been proved to be life threatening and they are legal; therefore, the question remains why is marijuana still illegal? Marijuana should be an alternative to alcohol, which is capable of killing and more addictive (Earleywine 274). Separating marijuana from the other drugs it would no longer be considered as being a gateway drug.
Comprehensive research of the potential impacts of using marijuana and the medical applications would strengthen the argument of the legalization of marijuana. The opponents of legalization feel that the argument for the legalization of marijuana would send the wrong message to the public. Therefore, they believe that the legalization of marijuana will lead to excessive recreational use among users. In addition, the government believes that there will be an increase in the number of marijuana users; consequently an increase in overall drug use in the country.
Decriminalization of marijuana is inherently a step in which knowledge of the benefits and various uses of marijuana could diminish the myths about this plant. As such, legalization could help with the treatment needs for all chronically and terminally ill patients who rely on medical marijuana. Marijuana is less dangerous and non-addictive, unlike tobacco and alcohol which cause thousands of deaths per year. There are medical benefits and financial benefits as well; the revenue from the taxing of marijuana could go toward the national debt and countless jobs around the country.
- Earlywine, Mitch. Understanding Marijuana: A new look at the scientific evidence. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print.
- Gieringer, Dale and Ed Rosenthal. Marijuana medical handbook: Practical guide to therapeutic uses of marijuana. Berkley: Ed Rosenthal, 2008. Print.
- Mizingo, Joe. Dispensing profit. Los Angeles Times, 17 June 2012. Web. 15 July 2014. //articles.latimes.com/2012/jun/17/local/la-me-0617-pot-retail-20120617.