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The legalization of cannabis, much better known as marijuana, is one of the most controversially discussed issues in our country today. This may be because of the cultural diversity that the United States of America is known for. Cannabis is all natural and has over twenty-five thousand uses (NORML, n.d.). There are many positive things that come from cannabis, and many organizations and others who feel it should be legal. Many negative effects can arise from the legalization of this narcotic, but we can only guess what the consequences could be. There is a large history about how marijuana became illegal in the United States. State and Federal laws on this drug in the United States can be compared with the laws in other countries such as Canada. My opinion about the legalization of marijuana is extremely strong. The fight to legalize cannabis will always exist, and most likely will not be solved anytime in the near future.
The legalization of this narcotic could potentially be very profitable. One thing it would be used for is medical related problems. Cannabis has been used since the 1800’s for pain relief (NORML, n.d.). In western medical literature, physicians have published hundreds of documents recommending cannabis use for an assortment of disorders and illnesses (NORML, n.d.). Pain such as nerve damage, nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, and even some movement disorders are treatable with marijuana (NORML, n.d.). It is also a proven stress reliever. People suffering from HIV, AIDS, Wasting Syndrome, or even Dementia can benefit from this drug because it is a very powerful appetite stimulant (NORML, n.d.). There are more than 60 U.S. and international health organizations that support giving patients authorized admission to medicinal marijuana, under a doctor’s supervision (NORML, n.d.). If a patient is able to find a doctor willing to prescribe medical marijuana, they would have to sign a legal document stating they will only use the Government Issue cannabis, which doesn’t meet a lot of standards. It only has ten percent THC, proprerly kn own as tetrahydrocannabinol, when most people are used to using “street marijuana” which contains approximately fifteen to eighteen percent THC (NORML, n.d.). Organizations such as The American Cancer Society and The American Medical Association support the idea that research clinics should have more access to cannabis for enhanced medical potential (NORML, n.d.).
Besides medical uses, there are also many uses in the industrial world. Marijuana has the potential to be manufactured into more than twenty-five thousand different kinds of goods (NORML, n.d.). It could be used as our biggest cash crop if it were to be legal. It would be worth a fortune, of approximately five billion dollars per year. The products it can produce are textiles, paper, paints, clothing, plastics, cosmetics, food products, insulation, animal feed, oils, ropes, and many others (NORML, n.d.). This narcotic could also be taxed. These are just very few things that can come from the drug of marijuana. Farmers can get a license to grow cannabis only from the DEA, Drug Enforcement Administration, but they have continued to reject authorization for major hemp, or marijuana, farming (NORML, n.d.). All kinds of money can be found in cannabis, but it seems that the government would rather spend money, and prevent themselves from making money.
A big issue in this country today is the personal use of marijuana. It is the third most popular drug in the U.S. First is tobacco and then alcohol. About eighty million Americans have smoked marijuana in the past year (NORML, n.d.). Marijuana has been around since the beginning of civilization, but it is illegal to cultivate and deal out, because it can be smoked until a person has a loss of motor functions. Alcohol and tobacco abuse have far worse medical effects than marijuana (NORML, n.d.). They also cause far more deaths than cannabis. Around 50,000 people die each year from alcohol poisoning and more than 400,000 deaths are attributed to tobacco smoking! Marijuana is nontoxic, and it has not been known to cause an overdose (NORML, n.d.). It is also non-addictive, unlike alcohol and tobacco; your body will not become dependant on marijuana. The only addiction it can cause is a psychological one. Marijuana can be maturely used by adults, just like many other activities such as motorcycle riding, drinking alcohol, skydiving, getting married or smoking tobacco (NORML, n.d.). An organization that strongly believes in the responsible medical and industrial use of marijuana is NORML, The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. This group knows all there is to know, and will keep trying for their big goal, which is the legalization of marijuana. All in all, marijuana is a good resource for the industrial and medical world.
Do not forget, along with the good comes the bad. But first, what happens when you’re high? Well it all depends on the person, how much is used, or how strong it is, in other words how much THC, tetrahydrocannabinol it contains. The more THC in cannabis the stronger it is (NIDA, 2004). Effects can range from, some people experience nothing at all to some people undergoing a relaxed or calm feeling. People might become extremely thirsty, hungry, and/or tired (NIDA, 2004). Like any drug you should not operate any machinery, especially an automotive vehicle. When driving after smoking marijuana your response time is slowed down tremendously. You are also slightly less alert, coordinated, and it becomes harder to concentrate (NIDA, 2004). In Memphis, TN researchers found thirty three percent or one hundred and fifty reckless drivers tested positive for marijuana (NIDA, 2004). This is because of the delayed reaction time. I am not saying that it is ok to operate a vehicle under the influence of marijuana, but think of all the deaths caused every year by drunk drivers.
The short-term effects of marijuana use are more predictable than the long-term effects. There are few, and the main one is problems with short-term memory, and the ability to learn (NIDA, 2004). Another dilemma is with organization, and problem solving. There is also loss of coordination and increased heart rate (NIDA, 2004). This can create a feeling of nervousness. These effects can be enlarged if you use other drugs. If cannabis is consumed by pregnant women it can affect the fetus. There can be low birth weight in the baby, and a reduced gestation period (NIDA, 2004). Also some long-term effects of marijuana use as well. One would be cancer, but tobacco smoking also causes cancer, and at a higher rate (NIDA, 2004). Some cancer causing chemicals that are found in tobacco smoke are also found in marijuana smoke. Marijuana can affect the air passageways to your lungs. People who smoke marijuana often develop a breathing problem, such as coughing and wheezing (NIDA, 2004). There is also a greater risk of obtaining an illness, such as a chest cold. There is the risk of lung infections, like pneumonia (NIDA, 2004). Long-term marijuana use is also associated with trachea injury and bronchitis. The biggest reason why cannabis has not been legalized is because it’s a gateway drug. The reason for this is once you try a drug, you then make yourself more exposed to trying new drugs, or just looking for a new and or more exciting high (NIDA, 2004). Not to mention that this is different with everyone. We can only predict what would happen, and we will never know unless it is legalized.
The history of marijuana is very interesting and resourceful. Marijuana first became illegal in 1941. Then in 1972, President Richard Nixon’s National Commission on marijuana and drug abuse recommends that congress approve this policy nationally in the United States (NORML, n.d.). Since then more than a dozen government appointed commissions in both the U.S. and in a foreign countries have suggested related proceedings. None of these commissions have been enforced and police officers are continuing to arrest and jail minor offenders (NORML, n.d.). Since 1973, twelve states including Alaska, California, Colorado, Mine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon, will no longer give jail time to minor marijuana users for possession of the narcotic (NORML, n.d.). There are voters that also support these policies. In 1977 President Jimmy Carter told congress “Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this clearer than in the laws against the possession of marijuana in private for personal use.”(NORML, n.d.) Our government today spends about 10 million dollars per year just to arrest over 700,000 individuals for minor marijuana infractions. The numbers for arresting people for violent crimes, such as murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault are far greater though, than the numbers for marijuana use (NORML, n.d.).
Possession of marijuana is legal in many other countries, such as Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands. It is currently illegal in Canada and England, and is not-prosecuted in Switzerland, but they are all currently under evaluation by the government and may be liberalized (NORML, n.d.). It is illegal in Sweden and the United States. On the other hand, i is legal in many countries for medicinal use; including the United States, but only in some states. Canada is currently fighting to make cannabis 100% legal and it is the most commonly used drug in country. The possession of cannabis accounted for half of the drug offenses in Canada in year of 1997 (NORML, n.d.), and the Canadian government spends more than 500 million dollars annually enforcing drug laws. Canada also produces nearly 800 tons of illegal cannabis each year and approxmitaly sixty percent of that is exported to the United States of America(NORML, n.d.).
The laws in states of California and Michigan differ greatly. In Michigan having any amount of marijuana on you, or using it is a misdemeanor, with a $100 fine and 90 days in jail. In California if you have up to 28.5 grams it is a misdemeanor with no jail time and a $100 fine (NORML, n.d.). In California, the cultivation of any amount is a felony with sixteen months in jail. In Michigan, it is a felony with 4-15 years in jail and $20,000- $10,000,000 fine depending on the amount being grown (NORML, n.d.). So as you can see the laws differ greatly with each state. This may be because the United States in very culturally diverse.
My opinion about cannabis is very strong and reasonable. I believe marijuana is the least harmful drug to society and your body. Don’t get me wrong I do believe it is a, “Gateway Drug.” I have had personal experiences with people close to me that have used marijuana and after which started using other, more harmful drugs trying to achieve that original mind blowing high. At least 50,000 people die each year because of alcohol poisoning and 400,000 people die because of tobacco smoking (NORML, n.d.). There are zero known marijuana deaths per year, because marijuana is nontoxic and non-addictive. I believe marijuana should be legal, but also have rules and regulations, just like with alcohol and tobacco. I think you should be over the age of 21, no operating heavy machinery-especially automobiles, no consumption in public places, and no possession of more than one pound. I know this may sound a little extreme but until it is processed and sold by our government on a regular basis you should one be able to produce the amount that was stated.
Now there are even courses being offered at larger college campuses based upon the subject of marijuana. If people are informed about the matter and know all of the possible consequences that could come from it. It would be easier to be legalized. To me, with knowledge comes great power, which is the ability to persuade ideas and thoughts and change others and their thoughts.
There is a great history about the positive and negative effects of marijuana legalization. In my opinion marijuana is not even a bad drug; it’s a plant; it’s a useable cash crop that’s all. Not like other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin because they have certain chemicals that are harmful. After all this has been stated, do you think marijuana should be legal?