I have always been against the use of all illegal drugs including marijuana, but while researching this topic, I have learned a lot about some of the positives of legalizing marijuana use. Considering it is classified as an illegal controlled substance, I have always been under the assumption that marijuana was bad for people, no matter what my friends may have said about how good it was. I was peer pressured into trying it when I was fourteen. I knew right away that it was not for me. It made me pass out and sick to my stomach when I woke up. That reiterated my assumption that it was bad for people.
I did not understand how people could like it. I fgured other people must not have had the same reaction as I did after smoking it. No matter what my opinion is, I will give both the positives and negatives of legalizing it. Many Americans believe that marijuana is harmless and many want it legalized. Some states have already legalized the medical use of marijuana. They are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington (Procon. org).
Colorado and Washington have also legalized it for recreational use (Governing). Marijuana is a common recreational drug. “The National Institute on Drug Abuse says marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug” (Cox). In a 2010 survey, 17. 4 million Americans had used marijuana within the past month. It is used to change people’s moods by getting them to relax. Even so, marijuana does have some negative effects on people. It can cause lethargy and uncoordinated body movements. Marijuana can have harmful effects on people’s health. It can affect our brains, hearts, lungs, and reproductive systems.
Like cigarettes, marijuana can cause cancer of the mouth, tongue, larynx, or pharynx. Marijuana is usually smoked. It can also be ingested by mixing with foods or brewed as tea. Smoking it will trigger psychological effects within thirty to sixty minutes. “Marijuana can impair thinking, memory, and learning for weeks after use” (Cox). Marijuana could also cause acute psychosis. This break from reality makes it a common drug used by those who obviously do not want to face reality or the hard nicks of life in general. Marijuana can also cause short-term memory and learning problems.
A study in Colorado reports that since legalizing marijuana, there has been a spike in kids visiting emergency rooms after eating foods containing marijuana. “Since October 2009, 14 kids under age 12 have been treated at the hospital for accidental exposure to marijuana, with eight of those cases linked to edibles such as marijuana- laced cookies, candies, brownies and beverages” (Gannon). Kids are arriving at hospitals with symptoms of respiratory problems, extreme sleepiness, difficulty walking and lethargy. According to Just Think Twice, marijuana is harmful. Smoking marijuana leads to ome changes in the brain similar to those caused by cocaine, heroin and alcohol… tar inhaled by marijuana smokers and the level of carbon monoxide absorbed by those who smoke marijuana, regardless of the THC content, are three to five times greater than among tobacco smokers… According to the American Lung Association, there is 50-70% more cancer causing material in marijuana smoke than in cigarette smoke… ln fact, marijuana smoke contains more than 400 chemicals (Fiction). Marijuana can also affect users’ mental health. Marijuana can lead to increased anxiety, panic attacks, depression and other mental health problems. For those already prone to depression or anxiety attacks, marijuana use may accelerate or exacerbate problems” (Fiction). Maastricht University conducted a study that found that smoking marijuana frequently while young raises the risk of psychotic symptoms as you get older. Much like alcohol, marijuana effects alertness, concentration, perception, coordination and reaction time. It can also make Judging distances and reacting to signals and sounds while driving more difficult. A roadside study of reckless drivers who were not impaired by alcohol showed that 45% tested positive for arijuana” (Fiction). Marijuana use has also been linked to car crashes. Marijuana has been linked to adolescents engaging in risky behaviors. “Research has shown a link between frequent marijuana use and increased violent behavior. Research found that among youth, the incidence of physically attacking people, destroying property and stealing increased in proportion to the number of days marijuana was smoked in the past year” (Fiction).
Youths engaging in delinquent behavior rose right along with their marijuana use. The ability of young people to concentrate and retain information has been linked o heavy marijuana use. “Regular marijuana use has been shown to be associated with cognitive deficits and poor academic performance” (Fiction). Students who smoke marijuana are known to skip classes and some miss classes because of illnesses caused by smoking marijuana. According to Just Think Twice, other dangers of marijuana use include: ??? The substances in marijuana stay in the fatty parts of the body for long periods of time. ?? A 50% concentration of THC can be found in the body up to eight days after using marijuana and traces can be found in the body up to 3 months after use. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, accumulates particularly in the testes, liver and brain of users. ??? PET scans (a brain mapping method which allows scientists to visualize what is happening in the brain) of regular marijuana users show that marijuana may continue to impact the brain three or more days after use, particularly affecting motor coordination, memory and learning.
According to two studies, marijuana use narrows the arteries in the brain, “similar to patients with high blood pressure and dementia” and may explain why memory tests are difficult for marijuana users. In addition, “chronic consumers of cannabis lose molecules called CBI receptors in the brain’s arteries,” leading to blood flow problems in the brain which can cause memory loss, attention deficits, and impaired learning ability. ??? Research has now established that marijuana is addictive.
Each year, more teens enter treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illicit drugs combined. Over sixty percent of teens admitted to drug treatment cite marijuana as their times more likely to lead to dependence among adolescents than among adults. ?? Research indicates that the earlier kids start using marijuana, the more likely they are to become dependent on this or other illicit drugs later in life. ??? The proportion of admissions for primary marijuana abuse increased from 6% in 1992 to 64% percent of admissions in 2002.
Almost half (46 percent) of the people admitted for marijuana were under 20 years old. Of those admitted for treatment for primary marijuana dependence, 56 percent had first used the drug by age 14, and 26 percent had begun by age 12. ??? Even marijuana proponents acknowledge that marijuana use s harmful for teens. Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) recently stated that “One can argue before a young person reaches full brain development in their early 20’s, they should not use or have legal access to marijuana. ??? Scientists have proven that marijuana users experience changes in the flow of blood to their brains. Ronald Herning of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that marijuana smokers may suffer from narrowed blood vessels in their brains, possibly explaining why smokers xperience memory and thinking problems (Fiction). With many Americans believing that marijuana use is harmful, we could look at the positives of legalizing it. Research has shown that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol and tobacco.
Some say that marijuana could be used to help alleviate symptoms of cancer, AIDS, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and depression. Some Evidence has shown that marijuana can relieve pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms of some of these illnesses. If we legalized marijuana, the U. S. Government could save billions of dollars. Marijuana prohibition now costs state and federal government as much as $20 billion a year” (Sledge). Jeffrey Miron from Harvard University studied the impacts of legalizing marijuana in 2010. He found that $8. 7 billion could be saved on law enforcement and $8. billion could be generated from marijuana taxes. With inflation, that could possibly be around $20 billion now. If rated the same as cigarette taxes, governments could rake in approximately $444 billion in marijuana taxes. Criminal Justice costs could be saved. “Around 750,000 people were arrested for marijuana-related crimes in 2011” (Sledge). Legalizing marijuana could alleviate the time spent by police officers, Judges, attorneys and prison guards on marijuana related criminals, and allow them to spend more time with other important crimes like murder, rape, terrorism and harsher drugs.
Legalization would have strict laws governing its marketing and distribution, which could possibly reduce other crimes. All in all, this could possibly alleviate some of our overcrowding in Jails and prisons. As a cigarette smoker, I can see how marijuana smokers most likely felt that their rights were being taken away when marijuana was deemed illegal. Over time, cigarettes seem to be becoming illegal, in a way that is hard to describe to non- smokers. What I am saying is, it should be up to each adult individual to decide whether they want to accept the risks of smoking marijuana or not.
It is the same for cigarette smokers and alcohol drinkers. Everyone who does any type of risky tightening the reigns more and more over the years, telling us what we can or cannot do. I can understand; through my research, that children should not have access to marijuana, but adults should be able to make the choice on their own. With all of this being said; after considering all that I have read, I still would not consider smoking marijuana, and I hope that my children never start either.
There are some compelling reasons to legalize it, but there are still considerable negative consequences that people need to appreciate before making a final decision on whether to smoke it or not. While Colorado and Washington have legalized it for recreational use, maybe our other states are waiting to see what happens there before they Jump on the bandwagon. Colorado and Washington residents are probably our study group to ee how well it works to have marijuana legal.
If the other states see that legalizing it is bringing the state’s governments considerable incomes, and the negative impacts on health and education are low enough, they may legalize it too. References Cox, L. (2012). Effects of Marijuana. Live Science. Retrieved from http:// www. livescience. com/24558-mariJuana-effects. html Fiction: Marijuana is Harmless. (2013). Just Think Twice. Retrieved from http://www. Justthink Gannon, M. (2013). Accidental Pot Ingestion Spikes for Colorado Kids, Study Finds. Live Science. Retrieved from http://www. livescience. m/34747-accidental-pot-ingestion- spikes- for-colorado-kids. html Governing: The States and Localities. (2013). State Marijuana Laws Map. Retrieved from http://www. governing. com/gov-data/state-mari]uana- laws-map-medical-recreational. html ProCon. org. (2013). 20 Legal Medical Marijuana States and DC. Retrieved from http://medical marijuana. procon. org/ view. resource. php? resourcelD=000881 Sledge, M. (2013). Marijuana Prohibition Now Costs The Government $20 Billion A Year: Economist. HuffPost Politics. Retrieved from http://www. huffingtonpost. com. 2013/04/ 20/mariJuana-prohibition- costs n 3123397. html