The Pros and Cons of Legalizing Marijuana
The arguments about legalizing medical marijuana rage on and, with such strength of feeling on both sides of the argument, it can be difficult to get a clear perspective. We believe that the only way to see the wood for the trees, or the weed for the smoke, is to be objective.
There is overwhelming evidence that cannabis relieves various medical conditions; unpleasant symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, pain and spasm, as well as the side effects of some prescription medicines. It is fact: marijuana is less toxic to the system than many pharmaceuticals.
A fact that informs the opinion of much of the medical establishment is the paucity of good quality research on the use of medical marijuana. Doctors are trained to mistrust anything that hasn’t been fully researched but there is a glaring problem here: the cultivation and possession of marijuana is illegal. Legalize marijuana and the research becomes possible.
Then we come to the specter of addiction. One oft-quoted study (University of Arkansas 2001) found that withdrawal from marijuana in heavy users gave rise to symptoms similar to those of nicotine withdrawal? But how were the participants in that trial taking their cannabis? If, as is the norm, they were smoking it, then the chances are they were smoking it alongside tobacco. Is it any wonder that symptoms were similar to those of nicotine withdrawal?
Users of medical marijuana are rarely heavy users and they can avoid the nicotine syndrome by vaporizing their herb.
Many opponents to legalization of medical marijuana believe that to legalize marijuana will erode the drugs-are-dangerous message that we try to instill in our children, leading to widespread use of not only cannabis but truly dangerous drugs such as heroin. Yet there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary: in states where medical marijuana is legal, the figures for teen use of cannabis have either remained stable or have followed a downward trend.
Then, there are our human rights: why shouldn’t we legalize marijuana, surely we have the right to make choices for and about ourselves unless there is evidence that our preference will cause harm to others. There is no proof of third-party harm being caused by users of marijuana, yet third-party harm is caused by substances such as tobacco and alcohol, both of which are lawful.
Challengers are apt to counter that children are likely to suffer from their parents’ marijuana use. Any suffering caused to a child, whether from excessive drug-use or any other parental activity, comes under the heading of child neglect and, therefore, there is no need for a specific marijuana law to enable prosecution.
And, finally, there is the ‘prohibition doesn’t work’ argument. We know from our own history that prohibition may actually worsen the situation; disallowed activities become exciting, something that is allowed every day loses its thrill. When an activity becomes legal, it becomes regulated – alcohol is a legal drug but it is far more difficult for youngsters to obtain than marijuana, which is readily available to most high school students. Didn’t we learn our lesson with alcohol prohibition, which failed miserably and led to gang culture and black market operations? Legalize marijuana, regulate it and provide good quality, freely available education as to its use.
The knock-on effect of black market activity and the punishment of marijuana users is expense: it costs an immense amount of money to seek out and punish those who break the marijuana law. Legalizing marijuana would not only save thousands of dollars, it would also create another income stream for the government in terms of taxes.
It’s not rocket science, is it?
We’ll leave you with some thoughts from Abraham Lincoln:
“Prohibition…goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.”