The legalization of marijuana has been a nationwide debate for the last few years. One side states that it helps with mental and physical illnesses such as cancer and anxiety. Another side of the debate argues that being lenient on the position of drugs in the government is harmful and can increase issues related to drug use. Issues such as non drug free workplaces, interrupted brain development, loss of control, negative messages for adolescents, and drug abuse are all options that can easily happen if marijuana is legalized. On the other hand the legalization of marijuana could reduce petty crimes committed due to for example possession of a small amount of marijuana, drug trafficking of marijuana, and the legalization of marijuana would provide many needed jobs. Fact of the matter is there are many pros and cons that come with the legalization of marijuana but which will outweigh the other and what cons are the citizens of america willing to put up with to allow this drug to become the normal in our country?
One out of many negative effects of marijuana is irreversible brain damage. The human brain develops until we are about 25-30 and just like other drugs such as meth and heroin, heavy use can lead to similar brain functions being damaged. As stated by the addiction center “prolonged used of marijuana can affect the ability of brain cells to send messages”. The primary ingredient of marijuana is THC which attaches itself to receptors in the brain that control memory, appetite, pain regulation, and mood. It has also been studied that people who smoked marijuana at a young age lost 6-8 IQ points by the time they reached middle age and even when they stopped they could not gain them back. Another dangerous substance that also needs to be considered with marijuana is synthetic marijuana which is not safe for human consumption no matter what age the consumer may be.
Synthetic marijuana could either be consumed knowingly by someone who can’t afford the cost of real marijuana or even unknowingly by someone thinking they are buying authentic marijuana from a drug dealer where the drug is still illegal. As stated by the addiction center “synthetic marijuana binds more strongly to receptors than THC, making it at minimum 100 times more potent in the brain”. The side effects of synthetic marijuana can become harmful and even life threatening. These symptoms include, memory loss, seizures, psychosis, cardiac and respiratory complications, stroke, paranoia, hallucinations, altered perception or euphoria, violent behavior, kidney damage, and brain damage. Synthetic marijuana can also become addictive as well as authentic marijuana however, prolonged use of synthetic marijuana at any age can result in further drug abuse which directly affects the brains function and activity.
Marijuana is not only a danger to the person consuming the drug but to the people around them. As smoking tobacco has been advertised to be harmful to us research shows that smoking one marijuana joint is just as harmful as smoking five tobacco cigarettes and second hand smoke can also be applied to this. This can also cause people who didn’t even physically smoke the marijuana themselves to get a high from it and if they enjoy that they could start smoking themselves. Research also shows that the legalization of marijuana increases use by teens as stated by procon “16.21% of Colorado teens and 18.86% of Alaska teens reported marijuana use in the past year compared to the 12.29% average for the United States” this is especially concerning due to this being an adolescent group with brains that are not yet fully developed. Traffic accidents and deaths also increased in places where marijuana has been legalized compared to when it wasn’t in that area. Procon states that “marijuana related traffic deaths rose 62% following the legalization of marijuana on Colorado”.
A former Chief of Police of Newark, California also stated that with legalizing marijuana “You are commercializing a product that is just going to put more impaired drivers on the road, worsening a problem we already have”. This also leads to more marijuana related medical emergencies as hospitalization due to marijuana rose 200% and marijuana related emergency room visits rose 30% in Colorado. Dr. Karen Randall an emergency room physician in Colorado states that “breathing problems due to inhalation of marijuana, including asthma, bronchitis, upper respiratory infections, as well as psychiatric needs, accidental or intentional overdoses, and, unfortunately, pediatric patients with issues related to marijuana have all increased” . Other injuries may also take place in a working environment especially ones that specialize in heavy machinery, construction, or managing large structures. People who work in environments such as these must be extremely alert in order to not hurt themselves or anyone around them. Having a mind impairing substance in the body while performing these tasks can put everyone in the work environment including the person who is working under the influence at risk for injury or death.
The legalization of marijuana sends a permissive message that drug use is acceptable. This is very negative for adolescents and allows them to think that just because it is legal that it will not harm them. This can be compared to the era when 12 year olds were smoking cigarettes just because they could and it wasn’t seen as dangerous. They realized later how much damage they actually caused and unfortunately for some that realization came too late. Legalization also leads a perception that marijuana is not serious and or harmful. Very well health states in their debate that “creating the public perception that marijuana is not a serious or harmful drug, when in fact, it leads to numerous mental and physical harms”.
These harms can include mental illness caused by withdrawal for example someone forming anxiety from not using marijuana after using it for a prolonged amount of time, use of other illicit drugs, and driving under the influence. Marijuana has always been seen as a gateway drug and if this gateway drug is legal and open for use anywhere many things could be expected to happen such as a high tolerance for the drug. A high tolerance for marijuana can become potentially dangerous due to users wanting to feel that high especially adolescents and long time users. This can lead to exploration in other more illicit drugs that have more harsh effects on the body which can lead to death due to accidental overdoses or other physical and mental impairments.
Although there are many signs not in favor for the legalization of marijuana with all contras there are pros. Very well health shares both sides of the debate and states that“Legalization of marijuana will reduce the strain on the legal and criminal justice systems by cutting out or massively reducing relatively petty marijuana related crimes such as possession of small amounts for personal use”. This statement does hold truth however, it is directly related to marijuana being illegal itself when legalizing marijuana isn’t the only way this can be stopped. It is also stated in the same article by very well health that “production and sales of marijuana by the government made by the government, rather than by criminals, will save lives and create jobs”. This is also true concerning the dangers of synthetic marijuana and the need of farmers to harvest these plants just like you would harvest tobacco but, the way that marijuana is prescribed is unlike any other controlled substance.
Instead of a pill or liquid form the drug is distributed in loose form and is approved for prescription more than other controlled drugs such as opiates due to the vague symptoms it is used to treat so this could lead to the government losing control over the substance. It is also said that crime related to marijuana trafficking, production, and dealing will decrease or become eliminated however this instance is also directly related to marijuana being illegal and even if marijuana is legal these traffickers can still bring in synthetic marijuana and try to sell it as authentic or try to convince people to buy from them for a cheaper price rather than buy from an actual dispensary.
At the end of the day this debate will always have people fighting from both sides, either begging for legalization of marijuana or fighting against the possibility. Even though marijuana and the legalization of it has been proven to raise risks for children, car accidents, drug addiction, death, and mental illness it also provides jobs, more money for the government, and ends petty crimes due to the law being in place. To some this is worth the risks and to others it’s a nightmare that must never come true. Are there instances where the use of marijuana may be acceptable? Yes, someone who genuinely needs this drug just like anyone who needs narcotics for pain regulation is appropriate if it can in some way make the person better and is prescribed as needed.
On the other hand if marijuana were to become completely and recreationally legal for anyone and everyone we could enter dangerous territory. If marijuana can become dangerous as a medically controlled substance how is it to be expected that it won’t be harmful as a recreational drug? On top of that laws were recently placed to regulate the distribution of narcotics due to how many patients were getting addicted from their prescriptions and easily getting more so it is unlikely for marijuana to be completely regulated and controlled from the moment of it becoming legalized. As a final observation, marijuana is a gateway that should never be opened.