Pros and Cons of Marijuana Legalization
Marijuana is arguably the most commonly used illicit substance in the U.S., with more than half of American adults having tried using marijuana at least once in their life. The debate on marijuana legalization has continued to heat up social media and news outlets, as both sides are strongly advocating the good and bad sides of the substance. In this article, we will look into the benefits and disadvantages of legalizing marijuana in the country.
The Rise in Popularity of Marijuana Legalization
Early usage of marijuana focused on using the substance as a mood enhancer and therapeutic agent. However, because of the addictive nature of the drug, a lot of people started abusing marijuana and using it beyond its pharmaceutical benefit. As a result, governments of the world have come up with policies and laws to regulate – and even restrict – marijuana use.
However, in recent years, more and more people believe that the benefits of marijuana outweigh its negative impact. In fact, some people vouch for its benefits – to help people experience relief from discomfort brought about by their existing medical conditions.
Although marijuana legalization is starting to take root in the U.S., not everyone is happy with the decision of several states to make pot legal. Despite making it legal now, many individuals are clamoring for the ban of marijuana and the removal of existing marijuana legalization statutes.
As of August 2017, 26 U.S. states (and the District of Columbia) have already passed laws that legalize marijuana. Three other states may soon join them after passing certain procedures allowing the use of medical marijuana.
Among these so-called marijuana states, seven of them (along with the District of Columbia) have adopted the most extensive laws with regards to marijuana legalization for recreational use.
In November 2016, four states – California, Maine, Nevada, and Massachusetts – have passed measures to legalize recreational marijuana. Meanwhile, four other states have successfully achieved marijuana legalization for medical purposes.
Anti-marijuana advocates are vehemently opposing marijuana legalization, saying that it may pose a great risk to public safety. California Proposition 64, for instance, allows adults age 21 years and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes. Tax imposition and licensing provisions will take effect by January 2018.
U.S. President Donald Trump has clearly disclosed his sentiments on this, but he said that he will respect marijuana state laws. It is not merely keeping his promise of doing what is right but more so in going with the changing times in which quite a number of people have been waiting for reforms. Some people think that it’s about time to start making the difference.
Debates continue in terms of the amount of marijuana that residents may possess, as well as the restrictions or provisions on retail stores. There was even a proposition from the state of Nevada for businesses to seek a permit to allow marijuana use in public places.
Some states have implemented more stringent laws allowing marijuana for medical use, thereby allowing residents to possess marijuana only if they suffer from a certain medical condition.
Advantages of Marijuana Legalization
There are always two sides to a coin, and the same is true with the issue on marijuana legalization. It is important that we are aware of the benefits and consequences of the legalization of marijuana.
Here are some of the benefits of legalizing cannabis:
Chronic pain management
Marijuana has been found to be helpful in managing chronic pain experienced by individuals who have cancer, epilepsy, and other medical conditions.
Additional government revenue
The primary reason for the government to pursue marijuana legalization revolves around how much the government will earn. Legalizing the substance would stop the black market from selling it at a high price. This move may be seen as a great potential for increasing the revenue of the government by imposing high taxes.
Marijuana is a top-selling agricultural product that could rake in millions of dollars.
Lower government spending
Legalizing marijuana will save the government from having to spend on enforcement.
Meanwhile, resources of the judicial system can be saved and can be put to better use. With the legalization of marijuana, it can lessen the number of individuals prosecuted due to possession.
Peace between the U.S. and Mexico
Legalizing marijuana use and trade may end the crime and violence associated with conflicts between the U.S. and Mexico, particularly on the border dispute.
Freedom of choice
It allows people the freedom to choose what they want. Even if the substance is said to have some harmful effects, each individual has the freedom to decide on his own.
Higher quality product
A lot of illegal substances are being sold in the streets. There is no way that an average person would be able to know exactly what he is buying, as some would mix it with other substances that can make it more potent and dangerous. In the case of marijuana, legalizing it may lead to better monitoring of drug quality and composition, for the benefit of the general public.
Disadvantages of Marijuana Legalization
On the flip side, here are the bad points against legalizing marijuana:
Toxic secondhand smoke
Just like secondhand smoke that comes from tobacco cigarettes, secondhand smoke from marijuana can pose the same health risks.
On a slightly related note, it is believed that individuals who started smoking at an early age are more likely to use marijuana and other dangerous substances.
Higher crime rate
Marijuana use may lead to an increase in crime incidence brought about by the effects of the said substance as it has the ability to alter brain functions.
Marijuana use can affect an individual’s perception and decision-making process. This is the reason why drug testing policies have been implemented by some companies to protect the employees and the whole workplace – to keep it safe and maintain a positive and healthy environment.
In addition, marijuana used has been associated with drug dependence.
Increased risk of vehicular accidents
Road accidents have increased over the years due to people who drive while under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. According to reports, there is an estimated 3% increase in the number of car collisions on states with legalized marijuana use.
Child access to illicit drugs
One of our goals in the family is to keep children healthy and safe all the time. By legalizing marijuana, there is a high possibility that these children may gain access to these drugs, which in turn would lead them to possibly develop an addiction at an early age.
Marijuana has also some levels of carcinogens that can contribute to the destruction of normal lung function. It can cause in increase in heart rate, which can lead to arrhythmia, heart palpitation or heart attack. Furthermore, marijuana use can also increase the risk of developing mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia.
The Marijuana Legalization Debate as Discussed by Experts
Such conflicting findings from marijuana use may make anyone either confused or indecisive. The following text comes from experts who revealed their own perception of the marijuana legalization issue.
Here’s what they say:
Experts see the essential help that medical marijuana can provide.
PRO: The use of medical marijuana may be the key to finally resolving the best treatment that can be used for those who are suffering from epilepsy, cancer or even Alzheimer’s disease. Using medical marijuana over dangerous painkillers can reduce the number of painkiller overdoses.
CON: Some people do not believe that there is such a thing as medical marijuana since its addictive property may endanger the life of people. Therefore, legalizing it would definitely have a huge impact with regards to productivity, quality of work, absences and an increase of other medical conditions such as psychological disorders and intellectual disorders.
The efficacy of medical marijuana in managing pain.
PRO: Choosing marijuana over opioid painkillers is safer and a lot cheaper. Additionally, cannabis has minimal drug interactions, which make it safer to use in combination with other medications.
CON: Experts who conducted a research on the effect of marijuana use against pain found out that using marijuana may lead to developing a euphoric effect, which does not totally eliminate the pain that is felt by a person from his medical condition. Moreover, long-term use of marijuana in helping to alleviate pain is not effective or safe for the treatment of chronic pain conditions.
Addictive property of marijuana.
PRO: Compared to cigarette smoking, only about 10% of its users can develop a psychological dependence. However, there is a very minute possibility of developing a true addiction.
CON: According to an experiment performed to prove that marijuana use can lead to addiction, about 9% of those test subjects become addicted. Consequently, the number of marijuana dependents rises as the user starts at an early age.
Marijuana as a substitute for other types of substances.
PRO: Individuals who choose to use marijuana are unlikely to use other more dangerous substances. Correlating the status of marijuana in the U.S. and in other countries that have legalized marijuana use, it was reported that fewer people made use of marijuana.
It is because of the discovery that medical marijuana has become known to help manage chronic pain experienced from certain medical conditions. As a result, it eliminates the possibility of these individuals to choose highly potent painkillers, thereby reducing the number of overdoses.
CON: An individual who smokes and drinks alcohol at a young age is more likely to use illegal drugs, which include cocaine and marijuana. In simplest terms, it is believed that there are individuals who have started using marijuana with prescription drugs and other illicit substances.
Medical marijuana for treating children’s diseases.
PRO: From a study of children taking cannabis to treat epilepsy, at least 90% of the parents reported that they have seen a significant improvement in their children’s condition. Marijuana did not only reduce the frequency of seizures, but it has also helped in increasing alertness, induced better sleeping pattern and improved their mood.
CON: Marijuana use in children has some psychological and cognitive side effects. Marijuana is capable of altering the function and structure of the brain.
Despite the pros and cons of marijuana legalization, the most important aspect to focus on is for the government, law enforcement officials, judiciary systems, and rehabilitation centers to work hand in hand to create a community that is free from possible marijuana addiction and its repercussions.