Should Marijuana Be Legalized? In society today, many people look for a feeling of freedom. Many people go on vacation and spend money. The most common gateway for people is drugs. Our American society is facing a tremendous drug problem. In order to eradicate the drug problem, a public debate is going on to find some solutions to this drug dilemma. It has become a highly controversial issue whether drugs such as marijuana should be legalized or not. Some people advocate this issue and believe that legalization is the only solution left for the nation while others oppose because it will increase the number of drug users and drug related crimes. Marijuana is a drug that is illegal in the United States. This drug as you know is bad and causes severe side effects to your brain and body. Scientist have found that smoking marijuana can cause you to loose your memory. Marijuana has many psychological and physical effects. People usually smoke marijuana in cigarettes or pipes, but it also can be mixed with food and beverages. Short-term effects of marijuana include both psychological and physical reactions. These reactions usually last for three to five hours after a person has smoked marijuana. The psychological reaction, known as a high consists of changes in the users feelings and thoughts. Such changes are caused mainly by THC. The effects of a marijuana high vary from person to person and from one time to another in the same individual. In most cases, the high consists of a dreamy, relaxed state in which users seem more aware of their senses and feel that time is moving slowly. Sometimes, however, marijuana produces a feeling of panic and dread. The different reactions result partly from the concentration of THC in the marijuana. Other factors, such as the setting in which marijuana is used and the users expectations, personality, and mood, also affect a persons reaction to the drug. Long-term effects of marijuana are not completely known, but studies have shown that some people have used marijuana regularly for several months or longer have develop serious long-term problems. Among males, marijuana use can reduce the production of sperm and of the male sex hormone testosterone. Among females, it can cause menstrual irregularity and reduced fertility. Extended use of marijuana also has a long-term psychological effect on many people. These individuals loose interest in everything. However, according to scientific experiments, marijuana is known to be beneficial in medicine. The question is should marijuana be legalized? One of the consequences of legalization will be a tremendous increase in drug users. Right now, drug users have fear of law enforcement agents, but if drugs were to be legalized, they no longer will have fear and will feel that it will be okay to use drugs. Over twenty years ago, estimates of drug use among Americans went as high as 24 million, but we now estimate that the number of Americans ho use illegal drugs is down to some 11 million. And a recent study done by my office shows that Americans are spending less on illegal drugs, not more. In 1993, Americans spent $49 billion on illegal drugs, down from $64 billion in 1988 (Brown 629). This decline is due to more officers on the streets and drug awareness programs. An increase in drug use will result in an increase in drug related crimes if drugs are legalized. Supporters of drug legalization believe that crime and violence would decrease if drug use was legal. Statistics tell us that almost half of those arrested for committing a crime test positive for the use of drugs at the time of their arrest. Making drugs more readily available could only propel more individuals into a life of crime and violence (Brown 629). Also drug users turn to crime to pay for their habits because they are stimulated by drugs and therefore act violently. If drug is sold legally, it will become easy for users to buy it around the corner. Thus, it will increase the already existing problem of crime. Church mentions that every year drug lords make over twenty billion dollars from cocaine and marijuana business, and legalizers believe that legalization will wipe out their major sources of funds (Church 12). However, drug use is a matter of supply and demand. As long as demand exists, someone is going to supply it, either legally or illegally. Supporters of legalization believe that if government regulate drugs such as cocaine and marijuana by imposing taxes, then the black market will be eliminated (Church 12). However, the higher the tax rate, the higher the price of the drugs, and not many users can afford to buy high priced drugs such as marijuana and cocaine. Therefore, they will have to go to drug gangs who sell marijuana and cocaine under the market price. In addition, children and teenagers will be obviously banned from purchasing marijuana and cocaine just as they are prohibited from buying beer and liquor. Nevertheless, there will be drug pushers who will continue to encourage the youngsters and try to get them hooked to marijuana and cocaine. Hence, legalization will encourage a growing criminal black market. The main benefit of marijuana legalization can be in medicine and will give patients with severe and dangerous diseases a new and effective medicine to help them. Yes, marijuana can help in medicine. “Marijuana is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known” (Nagorney 1). “One of marijuanas greatest advantages as a medicine is its remarkable safety. It has little effect on major physiological functions. Marijuana is also far less addictive and far less subject to abuse than many drugs” ( Grinspoon and Bakalar 1875). Marijuana as medicine has been studied for many years. In some cultures, it is already used as medicine. There are many good uses for marijuana to be used as medicine which will be discussed. The problem is that in order to be used in United States as medicine, marijuana must be legalized. Many doctors already recommend that their patients break the law and get marijuana. Thats because there is a very strong evidence that marijuana works as a medicine. Marijuana is often useful in the treatment of the following diseases: Cancer: Marijuana alleviates the nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite caused by the chemotherapy treatment. AIDS: Marijuana alleviates the nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite caused by the disease itself. Glaucoma: Marijuana by reducing intraocular pressure alleviates the pain and slows the progress of the disease. This disease damages vision by gradually increasing eye pressure. It is the leading cause of blindness in United States. Multiple Sclerosis: Marijuana reduces the muscle pain and spastically caused by the disease. Epilepsy: Marijuana prevents epileptic seizures in some patients and allows more fresh areas of bronchi to open up. Chronic Pain: Marijuana reduces the chronic often debilitating pain caused by a variety of injuries and disorders. In order to be effective, marijuana must be taken daily. It seems to be the most effective three hours after dosage, and last for five hours. Some critic contend that after taken for a period of time, the person may become tolerant to the drug and reduce effectiveness. This is true for a lot of pain relieving drugs. A person cannot rule out marijuana because it has not been proven that a person will develop tolerance. “Marijuana could benefit as many as five million patients in the United States” (Nagorney 2). This situation to many people is intolerable. Those patients who choose to stay within the law suffer and die, both from disease and from many prescription drugs that cause side effects. “Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects, but marijuana is not such a substance” (Nagorney 2). This successful use of marijuana has given many patients a much more positive outlook on their treatment. There is now an enormous amount of public support of medical marijuana. A scientific survey of oncologist (cancer specialist) found that 54% of those control medical marijuana availability and 44% have already broken the law by obtaining marijuana illegally. “Thirty-four states letting patients with certain conditions smoke dope” (Foreman 25). States such as Texas, California, Massachusetts, etc., have recognized marijuanas therapeutic potential and have passed legislation supporting its value. These reforms could be passed throughout the nation with the help of people like you. Meanwhile, the only way for patients to gain legal access to marijuana as medicine is from the doctor. The patient must get a written note from the government and participate in a special program setup for them. We know that legalization is neither a reasonable nor rational policy for this country. One of the things that bothers me most about legalization argument is the mixed message it sends to our young people. The legalization will advance a laissez-faire attitude about drugs. I believe that we must change public attitudes toward drugs and focus on prevention and treatment, but we must also maintain the laws that make drugs illegal. Some of the drugs such as marijuana and cocaine should be legalized for medical purposes. “Polls and voter referenda have repeatedly indicated that the vast majority of Americans think marijuana should be medically available” (Grinspoon and Bakalar 1875). A final important prevention strategy is to enforce the laws against illegal drugs in order to control their availability. There are many uses for marijuana, and many are unexplored. Actually some are explored in depth because of interest and others are left behind. There are probably many other uses that have not been found because of the lack of experimentation on the drug as a whole. If marijuana is legalized there will be much more research done on the drug, and hopefully the drug will begin to be approved for use.
October 13, 1997 Marijuana Mayhem Legalization of Marijuana is a problematic situation at best. Defining different instances where and when it can be used are impossible. Leaving the drug illicit is the only logical choice. Following a 13-year decline in adolescent use of marijuana, the trend began to reverse itself in the early 1990s. Since then, marijuana use among 12-17-year-olds has nearly doubled. In 1994 there were 2.9 million marijuana users in this age group. Students who smoke marijuana heavily may be limiting their ability to learn, according to a NIDA-funded study. The study found that college students who used marijuana regularly had impaired skills related to attention, memory, and learning 24 hours after they had last used the drug. The finding supports the results of previous NIDA-funded research that reported that adults who were chronic heavy marijuana users showed residual impairment in cognitive abilities a day after they had last used marijuana. “Now we know that for students who smoke marijuana heavily, the ability to learn is affected not just while they are high, but for at least a day after,” says NIDA Director Dr. Alan I. Leshner. Together with other NIDA-funded research that has shown a marked increase in daily marijuana use among young people in recent years, this finding underlines the importance of the Marijuana Use Prevention Initiative launched by Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Donna Shalala last year, Dr. Leshner says. NIDA is playing a leading role in the initiative by providing science-based information to educate the public about the consequences of marijuana use. Regular heavy marijuana use compromises the ability to learn and remember information primarily by impairing the ability to focus, sustain, and shift attention, says Dr. Harrison Pope, Jr., of McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, who directed the recent study. Noting that the actual ability to recall information remains relatively unaffected, Dr. Pope says, “If you could get heavy users to learn an item, then they could remember it; the problem was getting them to learn it in the first place.” Heavy marijuana users had more difficulty than light users in sustaining and shifting attention, and hence in registering, organizing, and using information. Heavy users exhibited these cognitive deficits by being less able than light users were to learn word lists; by making a greater number of errors in sorting cards by different characteristics, such as by color or shape; and by making more errors when the rules for sorting the cards were changed without warning. Men in the heavy users group showed somewhat greater impairment than women in the same group. While the residual cognitive impairments detected in the study were not severe, they could be significant in the day-to-day life of chronic users, Dr. Pope says. The diminished ability to pay attention and decreased mental flexibility exhibited in these tests may cause chronic marijuana users important difficulties in adapting to intellectual and interpersonal tasks, he says. “This is a fairly definitive study because it was methodologically sound and controlled for a wide number of factors, including the possible confounding effects of alcohol and other drug use,” says Dr. Jagjitsing Khalsa of NIDA’s Division of Clinical and Services Research. Previous studies have produced mixed findings about the residual effects of heavy marijuana use on neuropsychological performance, notes Dr. Khalsa. Methodological problems such as ambiguous terminology, failing to take into account cognitive differences in study participants prior to initiation of marijuana use, and failing to note the possible effect of alcohol and other drugs have raised questions about the results of many of these studies. The study by Dr. Pope and Dr. Yurgelun-Todd joins a growing body of well-controlled and well-designed studies that indicate protracted cognitive impairment among heavy marijuana users, says Dr. Khalsa. For example, in 1993, Dr. Robert Block of the University of Iowa College of Medicine compared adult heavy marijuana users and nonusers ranging in age from 18 to 42 years who had been matched on the basis of their intellectual functioning before the onset of drug use. Subjects who used marijuana frequently — 7 or more times weekly for at least 2 years — showed deficits in mathematical skills and verbal expression and selective impairments in memory retrieval processes, the study reported. Although the two studies used different neuropsychological tests, “in general, both studies showed some impairments in cognitive abilities among heavy marijuana users,” Dr. Block says. It remains unclear whether marijuana’s short-term residual cognitive impairments are due either to a residue of the drug that remains in the brain after marijuana’s acute effects have dissipated, to a withdrawal effect from abrupt discontinuation of the drug, or to a neurotoxic effect of the drug on brain structure or function. Research has yet to demonstrate conclusively that chronic heavy marijuana use results in cognitive deficits that persist after a prolonged period of abstinence. However, NIDA-supported animal studies do show structural damage to the hippocampus, a structure critical in learning and memory, from the principal psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. In the early 1980s, when drug smugglers plied the Caribbean with near impunity, the international effort to catch them resembled a ragtag pursuit, with scant cooperation among nations. Fast-forward to the 1990s, an era when diplomacy has allowed the U.S. Coast Guard to extend its reach into waters once considered safe havens for smugglers. Within the past year, nine of 26 Caribbean nations have signed agreements that give the Coast Guard leeway to enter foreign territorial waters to intercept U.S.-bound cocaine and marijuana shipments. The bilateral pacts are becoming popular among island nations eager for help against drug trafficking, two Coast Guard commanders said in a recent interview. Despite a concentration of U.S. government attention on the Southwest border, Coast Guard and Customs Service authorities say there has been little letup in air and sea traffic through the Caribbean. In the waning days of May, Coast Guard vessels plucked 1,386 pounds of cocaine floating off the coast of Punta Salinas, Puerto Rico; 636 pounds of the white powder from a 60-foot sailing vessel near the British Virgin Islands; and 3,000 pounds of marijuana from a 30-foot fishing vessel 30 miles south of Haiti. Customs, too, reported three multi-thousand-pound cocaine seizures at the Port of Miami. It was all packed in cargo from Colombia. For the Coast Guard, which has spent two centuries pursuing pirates, smugglers and blockade runners, one way of detecting the continuous northbound drug traffic has been to move ships, people and planes closer to producer countries like Colombia. Among the objectives: Cut off seaborne smuggling lanes that hug coastal areas and work with foreign governments to deal with arrested traffickers. Coast Guard Cmdr. Joseph F. Ahern, an assistant legal officer, said the United States does not insist that drug suspects be shipped to an American courtroom. “We don’t demand a U.S. prosecution or the seizure of a vessel,” he said. “We ask the country what they want to do. If they want to prosecute, their nationals go back to their countries. If not, they get shipped to South Florida, where federal prosecutors and drug agents start developing cases. Ahern asserted that a maturing track record of bilateral cooperation has allayed concerns over sticky sovereignty questions. Historically, a federal law enforcement source noted last week, small countries have taken a dim view of U.S. government deployments in and around their territories without consultation. This remains the case. But the bilateral anti-drug agreements have been gaining acceptance since last spring. While the Coast Guard attains more latitude to operate in another country’s territorial waters, and in some cases air space, signatory countries may take advantage of training programs for their own police forces as well as professional exchange programs and joint anti-drug patrols. Under the six-part model agreement, the Coast Guard may board foreign-flag vessels, place its people aboard another country’s ships, pursue suspect vessels in another country’s territorial seas, detain suspect vessels other than those bearing a signatory’s flag, fly over another country’s territory and order suspect planes to land there. Only one country — Trinidad and Tobago — has signed the six-part deal with the overflight provision. A narrower, four-part agreement that excludes the airborne portions has been signed by eight countries. The United States is actively seeking agreements with the airborne provisions from five countries: Barbados, Colombia, Haiti, Honduras and Jamaica. The final score, including the sailboat: six vessels seized and more than 1,600 pounds of cocaine and more than 400 pounds of marijuana intercepted. California recently presented a proposition to legalize Marijuana for medical use and for necessity. Supporters of Proposition 215 say their “Compassionate Use Act” will legalize marijuana when a doctor prescribes it to ease the pain of cancer. If that were the whole truth The truth is, Prop. 215 does much more than that. Prop. 215 is dangerous. Prop. 215 makes marijuana far more accessible to children at a time when the last thing children need is greater access to drugs. When you sit down and read the initiative, you quickly see why all the old pot legalization activists are rallying around it. It isn’t cancer victims who are doing most of the talking, even in this newspaper. Using terminally ill patients as a cover, Prop. 215 is a thinly-veiled attempt to make marijuana available to everyone who wants it. Prop. 215’s most glaring problems are: No prescription required. The measure doesn’t say pot smoking is legal only when a physician prescribes it. It says a doctor’s “recommendation” may be oral, and no record keeping is necessary. Under 215, anyone can tell the cops that their doctor says pot will make them feel better, without having to produce written proof. Any excuse will do. Prop. 215 legalizes pot smoking for the treatment of “cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.” Never mind, for a moment, that even the Yes-on-215 campaign admits “marijuana is not a cure” for any of these things. It’s the “or any other illness” phrase that is the real problem. Tell the cops you’re under stress and your doctor says smoking pot will help, and you’re free to smoke. No consumer protection. I’m no fan of the Food and Drug Administration, but in all the years the FDA has been around, it hasn’t found so much as a far-fetched excuse to legalize pot. Under 215, no FDA approval is required, nor is any other mechanism established to control quality or safety. If pot is indeed “just another medicine,” why treat it differently from all others? It makes sick people sicker. The American Cancer Society says pot smoking may be more cancer-causing than tobacco. It’s not about medicine. The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, is already available in the prescription drug Marinol. Kids can smoke pot, to. Prop. 215 has no age barriers. What applies to college students applies to third graders. It encourages lawbreaking. Prop. 215 exempts patients and caregivers from state laws prohibiting the cultivation of pot. It can’t exempt them from similar federal laws because a state law can’t override a federal law. The upshot? Prop. 215 encourages the violation of federal law, because supporters know the federal Drug Enforcement Agency doesn’t have the manpower to bust every pot grower in California. (State and local police enforce only state and local laws, which would be changed to allow cultivation.) Neighborhood greenhouses. Prop. 215 does not allow pharmacies to sell marijuana to patients. Rather, it says people who grow their own pot would not be punished under state law. Can you name one other “medicine” which the state allows you to manufacture in the comfort of your own home? Why should pot be an exception? And once your neighbors start growing it, exactly how long do you think it will take the neighbor kids to get their hands on it and start giving it to your kids? There is no requirement in 215 to grow pot in a secure location where kids can’t get at it. Good luck trying to control it once it’s openly growing in your neighborhood! California’s biggest doctor group opposes 215 because no valid medical reason has been found to legalize marijuana. Law enforcement organizations oppose 215 because it would give druggies a fantastic new way to skirt the law. Anti-drug coalitions oppose 215 because it would send children a clear message that smoking pot is healthy. Proposition 215 was written by a drug dealer. Prop. 215 is financed by drug legalization activists who shamelessly seek to exploit the public’s compassion for the sick. But Prop. 215 bites off more than California can chew. Prop. 215 has side effects that go far beyond legalizing pot for medical purposes. PROP. 215 is as best the most problematic and frivolous proposition that has ever been considered! Despite its huge problems and controversies Prop. 215 passed: California Prop 215 Election Results CA Prop 215 Results with 100% Precincts Reporting YES NO Percentage: 55.7% 44.3% Count: 4,869,420 3,874,314 Legalization of Marijuana raises many problematic ethical and legal questions. These questions are more of a load that society can handle. Legalization would bring up issues which would create rifts in society further stratifying and stressing the already volatile social structure in the United States Today. The reasons I have shown are just the tip of the iceberg are far as problems with Marijuana. The drug has absolutely no redeeming qualities, and costs the taxpayers of this country billions of dollars a year to try and curb. If we would take a Zero-Tolerance approach and not pass laws allowing the drug in any arena it would make life much simpler, safer and more enjoyable. Works Cited R.I., and Ghoneim, M.M. Effects of chronic marijuana use on human cognition. Psychopharmacology 110:219-228, 1993. Pope, H.G., Jr.; Gruber, A.J.; and Yurgelun-Todd, D. The residual neuropsychological effects of cannabis: The current status of research. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 38:25-34, 1995. Pope, H.G., Jr., and Yurgelun-Todd, D. The residual cognitive effects of heavy marijuana use in college students. JAMA 275(7):521-527, 1996.
The question of whether to legalize drugs or not is a very controversial and important issue. Drugs affect so many areas of society. “The U.S. population has an extremely high rate of alcohol and drug abuse” (Grolier). Several groups have formed and spoken out regarding their position. “Speaking Out Against Drug Legalization is the first step in helping to deliver the credible, consistent message about the risks and costs of the legalization of drugs to people in terms that make sense to them. The anti-legalization message is effective when communicated by representatives of the Federal Government, but takes on even more credibility when it comes from those in the community who can put the legalization debate in local perspective” (Internet). After learning about the issues regarding both sides of the argument. Drugs simply create problems which effect society in several ways. The government has made several efforts to control drugs and their users, however, to most the problem appears too out of hand. “Others see potential profit in legalizing drugs and still others simply believe that individual rights to take drugs should be protected. The group also acknowledged that the legalization concept appeals to people who are looking for simple solutions to the devastating problem of drug abuse” (Internet). Societys answer to the problem is to trick the drug user by giving him what he wants. People believe that making drugs legal will take away the temptation to use This idea is wrong and far from logical. If drugs are legalized then they will be more accessible to the young, addicted, and ignorant. “As a result the ready availability of addicting drugs, and as a result of their heavy use for medical problems, many individuals became addicted to the narcotics contained in these potent medicines. In fact, in 1900, there were more narcotics addicts, proportionate to the population, than there are today. At that time, most of the users who became addicts were medical addicts. Very few abusers took drugs for “recreational” purposes. In 1914, in an effort to curb the indiscriminate use of narcotics, the federal government passed the Harrison Act, making it illegal to obtain a narcotic drug without a prescription. During the 1920s the Supreme Court ruled that maintaining addicts on narcotic drugs, even by prescription, was in violation of the Harrison Act. Some 30,000 physicians were arrested during this period for dispensing narcotics, and some 3,000 actually served prison sentences. Consequently, doctors all but abandoned the treatment of addicts for nearly half a century in the United States” (Grolier). The only resulting effect will be a negative one. There are no positive aspects of putting drugs on the streets with a label reading “legal.” There are plenty of people in society that find enough trouble on their own without the help of their country. Legalizing drugs would have a devastating result that would affect society as a whole. “Audiences need to understand that 70% of drug users are employed, and that the school bus driver who drives your children to school could smoke marijuana, that the surgeon who operates on you may have cocaine in his system, and that the driver in back of you may be on speed. The debate needs to demonstrate graphically how the common man will be impacted by drug legalization” (Internet). There is an idea that the “drug user” is a low class, unemployed junkie. This is untrue. The drug user is often a white collared worker with a family and a future. They are not all dirty with missing teeth and poor grammar. The common misconceptions of the “user” are dangerous to those members of society trying to rid the world of the problem. “Drinking on the job is a social and economic problem with a long history. With the growing popularity of illegal drugs in the 1960s and 1970s, it was to be expected that their use in the workplace would emerge as a major issue by the 1980s. Estimates of employee drug use vary greatly, from 10 percent to 25 percent for the proportion of workers who use drugs occasionally on the job. The safe performance of some occupations – among them, airline pilot, air traffic controller, truck driver, and physician – can be compromised by drug use” (Grolier). One of the greatest concerns of drugs is their contribution to the crime rate. Crime will always be a problem as long as drugs exist and are abused. “One category of crime is the victimless crime, which includes drunkenness, drug addiction, prostitution and gambling. The use of the term victimless is an extremely qualified one. It refers to acts committed by consenting adults in private; the acts involve only the participants and are not harmful to others. If harm occurs; it is inflicted only upon the willing participants. Victimless crimes are often characterized by the exchange of sought – after goods and services, and they generate huge amounts of illegal income. It has been argued, however, that no crime is victimless. The drug addict suffers physical and emotional harm and often commits property crimes to obtain money for buying drugs” (Grolier). Crime too often is the result of a drug problem. The crime rate would probably lower if drugs were illegal because the drug abusers wouldnt need to steal to pay for their drugs. Legalizing drugs would just add to an already rising problem. “Compared with other countries that keep crime statistics, the United States has the highest rate per 100,000 population for reported murders, rapes, and robberies. It is important to remember, however, that the incidence of crime is influenced by such factors as industrialization, urbanization, drug and alcohol abuse, unemployment, and the availability of fire arms” (Grolier). This should be reason enough to make all drugs illegal. Legalizing drugs will just feed the problem that teenagers and young adults face daily. Making drugs legal makes them more conscience accessible and easier on the “The illegal use of psychoactive drugs is vast and extensive in the United States. Some 70 million Americans age 12 and over have tried at least one or more prohibited drugs for the purpose of getting high. The illegal drug trade represents an enormous economic enterprise. Sales of illegal drugs in the United States may have totaled $100 billion in 1986, more than the total net sales of the largest American corporation, and more than American farmers earned from all crops combined. About 60% of the illegal drugs sold worldwide end up in the United States” (Grolier). The problems that society already faces with the unemployed, homeless, criminals, and high school drop-out rate will simply increase. What society would want such problems to escalate. The thought of how seriously this could impact our entire nation is both ridiculous and terrifying. I strongly believe that there are a great deal of people who have not tried drugs out of fear of getting caught. If this fear were taken from them, they would probably become drug addicts. As stated by the National Commission of Marijuana and Drug Abuse, “The term abuse has no functional utility and has become no more than an arbitrary code word for that drug which is presently considered wrong” (Grolier). I believe that our country should uphold a few basic standards, and keep drugs and the problems they create out of our society. Legalization is an act of neglect and ignorance.