Should Marijuana be legalized?
The use or abuse of Marijuana substance has elicited varied views and perspectives concerning its usage, sale and possession. Different people and institutions argue on whether Marijuana should be legalized or not. Opposing perspectives pertaining to its legalization continue to elicit much controversy, just like in the past and contemporary arena. The issue of legalization remains a heated debate especially because of the effects that Marijuana causes. This paper argues for the legalization of the substance, as it would greatly diminish crime rates in urban areas in addition to creating better and productive social arenas. Since the war on drugs costs huge amounts of resources in terms of work force, money and time, marijuana should be legalized to reduce this cost and create other advantages.
Marijuana is rated as the most used or abused drug/ substance in the contemporary global arena. Marijuana is also known as Cannabis (Cannabis Sativa) because of its content that, through the preparation, it can be used either for utility as a psychoactive drug or for medicinal purposes. The Cannabis plant is composed of different parts, but its flowers and seeds are utilized by thousands of people because of the concentration of the drug in the two parts. Pharmacologically, the plant’s primary psychoactive constituent is tetrahydrocannabinal (THC); that is one of about 483 proven constituents/ compounds. Further, it also has the inclusion of at least another 84 variants of cannabinoids, such as cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabidiol (CBD), and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) among others (Tracy 54).
The most argued question with regard to the use of Marijuana be legalized is whether it should be legalized. Fundamental aspects to this question are principals/ ideals that pertain to its use. For example, for thousands of years, it has been utilized as a component of spiritual/ religious rites, the earliest recording dating back to the 3rd Millennium BC. The United Nation’s global estimation (2004) indicated that an average of 4% of total adult population engage in its use. In the U.S, an approximate 5% of citizens admitted to its usage on a variant of periods. Teenage use has also being reported as having increased, the legality of the drug notwithstanding (Emmett and Nice 78).
One issue that has been of contention is the medical use of Marijuana especially for elderly folks in the treatment of a number of ailments, such as arthritis, post-cancer treatment pains and post-surgery pains among others. Those opposing the use of Marijuana have stated that despite the fact that it can be used for medicinal purposes, it has detrimental side effects. On the other hand, proponents state that Marijuana has many medicinal advantages compared to its disadvantages and should be legalized.
Cannabis has both physiological and psychoactive effects when consumed. This can be realized by amongst others, subjective perception change and mood swings in individuals who have used it. Aside from these, the common neurological and physical effects on a short-term basis include increased appetite and heart rate, a decrease in blood pressure, an impairment of concentration, working and short-term memory, and reduced psychomotor co-ordination. These are some of the reasons given by those opposing the legalization of Marijuana (Earleywine 34).
In the global arena, studies are done yearly to track the trends of marijuana use. Facts and statistics from the studies show certain significant information. For instance, the studies show that usage is centered on the population of people in the bracket of 16-40 years. The facts that have been reported by studies conducted on Marijuana use show that no death has been blamed on the substance use. Even when death has occurred, Marijuana is sometimes a secondary cause (a catalyst) to the fatal incident (Emmett and Nice 65).
Facts indicate that the usage of Cannabis almost became an epidemic in the United States, during the 1960s, Golden Age, with the climax being during the late 1970s. It is during this era that America’s economy recordings indicated its highest growth ever, pumping billions of dollars into the economy. In turn, this helped to better the citizens’ lifestyles, with luxury becoming more affordable. This is because the effects of marijuana made people work harder. This is not to say that its use was confined to the economically able, but also the lower society experienced an upsurge in drug use too (Goldberg 56).
An upsurge in drug imports, sales and consumption characterized the aforementioned ‘Golden Era’. Other drugs flooded the market, but Marijuana remained the most common due to ease of availability. Millions of people across the global arena (both adult and youth populations) use the drug whether legally or not. Therefore, the use of Marijuana should be legalized in tandem with prerequisite measures to avoid underage use and associated criminal activities (Emmett and Nice 45).
Since the 20th Century beginnings, various judicial entities have enacted various laws against the possession, cultivation and transfer of the drug. However, it should be noted that a number of regions exist, such as Mendocino County, Massachusetts and Colorado among other places where handling or use of the drug is either licensed or legal under special circumstances. This shows that in deed Marijuana can be legalized. In these areas, penalties due to possession of small quantities of the drug have been lessened. These penalties are punishable by either confiscation (of the drug) or fines, as opposed to imprisonment. Focus, is on the drug traffickers, who deal in large amounts. There exist some jurisdictions, where free treatment programs on either mandatory or voluntary basis exists for known frequent users. In other areas especially in the East Asia region, long-term prison sentences are given and in worst-case scenarios, execution. (Luce 45).
Accordingly, two American legislators, Sen. Donna Nesselbush and Rep. Edith Ajello, recently announced their intended proposal for the legalization of marijuana, in Rhode Island. According to them, Marijuana should be taxed and regulated in a similar way to alcohol. This is a step further since the decriminalization of the drug in the year 2012. They are of the view that a sensible approach is necessary; this in America’s adoption of legislation, similar to that of (early 1920s) alcoholic drinks (Luce 10).
The legalization and regulation of Marijuana would, in effect put its sale into the arena of legitimate business entities, which are dissuasive in the sale of the substance to minors. In addition, this move would create not only much required tax revenue, but jobs also. Thus, under the Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act, citizens of Rhode Island will be permitted to use the drug and grow it up to three plants domestically. Further, the legislation’s call for legal marijuana retail outlets, in addition to both testing and growing facilities to ensure non-contamination of the substance is a valuable addition to Marijuana regulation.
Those who argue against the use of Marijuana state that the drug makes people commit crimes. They claim that most of the people who use marijuana are jobless or idlers who smoke it for bad intention. People who use it are considered criminals even when they have done nothing to show that. However, studies conducted have shown that people who use Marijuana are not all idlers or jobless. Some people use it so that they can focus on their work. Studies have also shown that the effects of the drug entirely depend on the reason for using it. Therefore, the drug should be legalized so that those who use it are not seen as criminals and for the fact that the use of marijuana does not always mean it is done for the purpose of crime (Tracy 96).
It is evident that great amounts of resources are spent in marijuana control, which does not need such. Despite this, the number of those using the drug does not decrease. Those resources would be best suited in making other more vital areas such as ‘social welfare, and health care’ effective. Estimates put the figure presently at around $10 billion in the United States alone. Through legalization and regulation on the potency and purity of the substance, resources will be channeled to other pertinent issues (Goldberg 45).
In conclusion, it is true that marijuana has positive effects as well as negative effects. Making it illegal has been costly, yet people still use it. In addition, the lack of comprehensive data proving the health-risks associated by the substance’s utility, further adds to the calls for its legalization. The medical sector’s utility of the substance, as medicinal Marijuana and its supplementary benefits to anesthetic products make the legalization of the drug a worthy cause for consideration. A few legal jurisdictions have legalized the substance’s use, possession and/ sale. Others should follow suit with strategies of regulation because the drug is of much benefit to the medicinal sector and for purposes of leisure.
Earleywine, Mitchell. Understanding marijuana: a new look at the scientific evidence. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.
Emmett, David and Graeme Nice. What you need to know about cannabis: understanding the facts. London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2009. Print.
Goldberg, Raymond. Taking Sides; Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Drugs and Society. New York, NY: The Dushkin Publishing Group, Inc. , 1993. Print.
Luce, Patrick. Legalize Pot? Should Marijuana Be Legalized and Taxed? State legislators propose full legalization of marijuana, which would be taxed and regulated like alcohol. Middletown, 8 February 2013. Electronic.
Tracy, Natasha. Marijuana (Weed) Facts, Marijuana Statistics. April 2006. Electronic. 3 March 2013.