Article by Naoki Nomura
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For the past decade, the US has been debating about legalizing marijuana. While a handful of states such as California, Washington, Alaska, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Colorado have legalized its use for both medical and recreational purposes, much controversy surrounds this issue. Recently, the US Congress passed a bill amending the Controlled Substances Act, excluding marijuana from inclusion in the Act’s regulatory controls and from being punished by administrative, civil, and criminal penalties (Congress.gov). The amending of the Marijuana Prohibition Act is one possible result of the waning anti–marijuana sentiment among Americans. With the complete legalization of marijuana seeming more imminent in the near future than ever before, we need to more fully understand the extent to which this development may impact society. Here are some pros and cons the legalization of marijuana facing society.
The most prominent argument lawmakers use in favor of marijuana legalization involves the medical benefits of the drug. When one smokes marijuana, a compound in it called Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is introduced into the user’s lungs and bloodstream. This compound causes brain cells to release the molecule, dopamine, a chemical in the brain that affects one’s memory, attention, mood, behavior and cognition, sleep, creativity, and personality. In combination with these effects, medical marijuana has also proved to ease pain, nausea, and loss of appetite in people who have cancer and HIV. In addition, some research also suggests that smoking cannabis may cut down seizures in people with epilepsy (Franciosi). Despite all the research supporting these benefits, cannabis is currently legal in only 29 states.
According to an article by Loria, the medical bills for those who suffer these diseases will significantly drop with the legalization of medical marijuana. The most common drug prescribed by doctors to treat epileptic seizures is Eslicarbazepine acetate, a drug with side effects such as blurred vision, vomiting, convulsions, and nausea; furthermore, a monthly prescribed bottle of 30, 400mg capsules is about $800 (Healthline). Contrary to this expensive and highly reactive drug, adds Loria, a prescription of medical marijuana to treat epilepsy will cost roughly $50-$100 a month, depending on the marijuana laws of the state where the patient resides. More importantly, perhaps, the side effects from medical marijuana are far less harmful than that of Eslicarbazepine acetate (Loria).
Along with the medical benefits marijuana brings, the boost in revenue that the legalization of recreational marijuana will give to state and local governments is projected to be in the billions. Currently a 40 billion dollar illicit market for marijuana exists. In order to handle this illicit activity, the US government spends roughly 8.7 billion dollars annually (Legalizing Recreational Marijuana). Legalizing recreational use of marijuana will allow for law enforcement and criminal justice systems to be more efficient and effective in their other operations. The medical benefits and the boost in government revenue the legalization of marijuana can yield, makes legalization a tempting legislation to pass. Cons
Though a large percentage of Americans, 64%, may see the good in legalizing marijuana, there is organized opposition to it. Contrary to the belief of many marijuana advocates, some research suggests that the drug is extremely addictive. Dr. Drew Pinsky, a specialist in addiction medicine stated,
It would be malpractice to say that cannabis isn’t addictive. …The difficult thing about marijuana addiction is some people, even though they’re addicted can do fine with it for many many years before they start to have difficulty, but eventually the high starts wearing off, people start smoking a lot more to try to get that high back and that’s when they descend into difficulties (Hawkins).
This statement can be backed by data collected in 2012. Of the 7.3 million people aged 12 or older classified with illicit drug dependence or abuse, 4.3 million persons had marijuana dependence or abuse. If marijuana is legalized, these numbers are expected to rise exponentially.
Though there is still much research that has to be done, the advantages that come from legalizing marijuana seem to significantly outweigh the costs. Will lawmakers make the decision to legalize marijuana in the near future? #legalize #don’tlegalize
Congress.gov. “H.R.1227 – Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017.” Advertisement. February 27, 2017.
Franciosi, Anthony. “12 Pros & Cons Of Marijuana Legalization.” Honest Marijuana. September 18, 2017. Accessed December 04, 2017.
Hawkins, John. “John Hawkins – 5 Reasons Marijuana Should Remain Illegal.” Townhall. January 21, 2014. Accessed December 04, 2017.
Healthline. “The Cost of Epilepsy Medications.”, Healthline Media, www.healthline.com/health/cost-epilepsy-medications#prices.
“Legalizing Recreational Marijuana – Pros and Cons.” Drug Rehab. July 06, 2015. Accessed December 04, 2017.
Loria, Jennifer Welsh and Kevin. “23 Health Benefits Of Marijuana.” Business Insider. April 20, 2014. Accessed December 04, 2017.