Should Marijuana Be Legalized?The controversy of legalizing marijuana has been raging for quite a while in
America. From some people pushing it for medical purposes to pott-heads just wanting
to get high legally. Marijuana has been used for years as a popular drug for people who
want to get a high. All this time it has been illegal and now it looks as if the drug may
There has been heated debate by many sides giving there opinion in the issue.
These people are not only left wing liberals either. Richard Brookhiser, a National
Review Senior editor is openly supportive of medical marijuana yet extremely
conservative in his writing for National Review (Brookhiser 27). He is for
medical marijuana since he used it in his battle with testicular cancer. He says I turned
to [marijuana] when I got cancer because marijuana gives healthy people an appetite, and
prevents people who are nauseated from throwing up. (Brookhiser 27) Cancer
patients are not the only benefactors from the appetite enhancer in marijuana, but so are
any other nauseous people.
Arizona and California have already passed a law allowing marijuana to be used
as a medicinal drug. Fifty Six percent of the California voters voted for this law. We’ve
sent a message to Washington, says Dennis Peron. They’ve had 25 years of this drug
was, and they’ve only made things worse. (Simmons 111) The Arizona
proposition garnished an even wider margin of separation between the fore’s an against in
a sixty five percent support tally. Ethan Nadelmann insists that these propositions are
not about legalization or decriminalization. They’re about initiating some non radical,
commonsense approaches to drug policy. General Barry McCaffery disagrees saying, I
don’t think this was a medical issue from the start. (Simmons 111) He also
calls the new laws, a tremendous tragedy.
The federal government has a hard time letting the California/Arizona act stand.
Marijuana is a schedule one drug, and has no medicinal purpose. Cocaine and morphine
on the other hand are schedule two and do have medicinal value. Gen. McCafferey says
a physician who tries to prescribe a schedule one drug with or without the referendums
in California or Arizona, is subject to prosecution under federal law. (Simmons112) This quote
has come under great duress since the DEA is the only group which can arrest someone who uses
pot and slap someone with a petty misdemeanor. People will not care if they run the risk of a
misdemeanor and likely use the drug anyway.
Dennis Peron, one of the leading activists of marijuana legalization, has devoted
twenty years to the legalization of marijuana. He says that when friend Jonathan West,
developed AIDS, Dennis saw the potential uses for medical marijuana when he saw
Jonathan feel better after smoking weed. (Rist and Harrison 75-76) Peron
fought wildly to pass a bill to legalize medicinal marijuana. Any other drug that eased
nausea, increased appetite, and reduced pain, would be prescribed everywhere. says
Peron. (Rist and Harrison 75-76) A Harvard Medical psychiatrist calls the
drug a wonder drug for pain, nausea, and appetite.
However, there are many cons to the pros in prescribing marijuana for nausea and
pain. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active drug in marijuana used to help relieve
nausea in cancer patients. This THC has been proven to lower testosterone in the blood
stream for men. (Angier 15) This is not a major concern to full grown men
because the level of testosterone quickly rises back after the smoker is done smoking.
However, it may be harmful to adolescent boys. In adolescence, a boy’s body is going
through many changes–it grows taller, it gets hairier, the voice deepens–and these
changes are controlled by testosterone. Marijuana could very well block the normal
growth process. says Carol Smith, of the Uniformed Services University of the Health
Sciences in Bethsheda Maryland. Columbia university did a study on 16 men who
smoked five to fifteen joints a day. After they finished smoking their sperm counts were
counted. It was discovered that all of the men experienced a dip in sperm count for
weeks after and had malformed sperm cells. This could cause some serious
malformations in conceived children. Studies were done on female rhesus monkeys who
have very similar body chemistry to human women. The monkeys were injected with
doses of THC. The menstrual cycles of the monkeys were greatly disrupted and some
stopped ovulating altogether. Says Smith, Nothing we have ever tested including oral
contraceptives, has as radical an effect on the menstrual cycle as marijuana does. The
hormones in men and women are definitely thrown off by marijuana use. (Angier 15).
Another drug found in marijuana, is called cannabidiol, or CBD. This drug is
used as an anti-epilepsy drug. It does not completely cure epilepsy, but in lab tests on
rats, the frequency and severeness of the seizures were greatly reduced in all of the
rats (Natalie Angier16). In studies done on humans at the Paulist School of medicine in
Sao Paulo, Brazil, CBD greatly reduced the seizures in four out of eight people in the
study. Even in large doses, CBD does not have psychoactive effect on the user. It is the
most promising chemical yet discovered in marijuana. says Mechoulam, If CBD works
so well in epileptics, then it could work as well to cure chronic migraine–another
neurological disorder. (Angier 16) If this drug is to be used, it is best to be used in pure form
instead of in joint form so as not to risk lung cancer.
With all of the controversy surrounding marijuana legalization, it will take quite a
while to become legal in all fifty states for medicinal purposes. However with all of the
supporters of marijuana it probably will become legal in a dozen or more states by
2005 says Rolling Stone. There are several pro’s and con’s to be weighed out over
whether marijuana is a product which should be legal in a country that already has so
many legal vices available to it. If the Food and Drug administration were to put some
real tests up to show the value of marijuana it would be beneficial to people on both sides
of the legalization lines. Even though there have been people who could have benefited
from the use of marijuana, there are several other people who would claim symptoms
they did not have in order to purchase this drug in order to get a high. Legalization
would also put a big chink in the DARE program and their say no to drugs
campaign. It would tell kids, that it is all right to do some kind of drugs. Hope’s of
legalizing the drug could be dashed if the Food an Drug Administration were able to
prove that marijuana did have drastic side effects that drastically outweigh the
advantages. The issue of the legalization of it will be a topic that will be argued over
several times in the years to come.
I. Thesis Statement
A. What is Marijuana
II. Different sides support
A. Richard Brookhiser
B. Tells some of the benefits of medical purposes
III.Arizona and California passed medical bill
A. Dennis Peron main supporter
B.Gen. McCaffey gives his views
IV. Marijuana has no provable uses
A. Gen. McCaffery threatens anyone who prescribes the drug
B. DEA is the only group which can prosecute
V. Dennis Peron is one of the leading activists
A. Peron’s friend died of AIDS
B. Harvard psychiatrist cals it a wonder drug
VI. Many cons to marijuana
A. THC can cause problems in adolescent boys and any women
1. Could block the normal growth process
B. Columbia University did a study of sperm count in dope smokers
2. Possible malformations in children because of deformed sperm
C. Womens bodies are seriously altered because of dope use
VII. CBD is a good treatment for epilepsy
A. Does not have psychoactive effect
B. Best used in pill form
The California Marijuana Vote. New Yorker
23 Dec 1996: 62+.
Brookhiser, Richard. Pot Luck. National Review
11 Nov 1996: 27+
Simmons, Michael. Give Pot a Chance. Rolling Stone
26 Dec 1996: 111+.
Rist, Curtis and Harrison, Laird. Weed the People. People
21 Oct. 1996: 75+.
Funk and Wagnall’s Volume 23 Marijuana
Baum, Dan. California’s Separate Peace. Rolling Stone 30 Oct.
Brookhiser, Richard. Lost in the Weed. U.S. News & World Report
3 Jan. 1997: 9
Buckley, William Legalization of Marijuana Long Overdue
The Albuquerque Journal. Online. 8 June 1993.