Authored by Kimberly Back in Legal
Published on 06-11-2009
The legalization of marijuana is a heavily debated topic not only around the water cooler, but also in federal, state, and local governments. Thirteen states have legalized medical marijuana, and another two have passed laws that are favorable toward its use. Also, several local governments have passed measures decriminalizing marijuana use or possession in some form or another. Still, there are those who call for the blanket legalization of marijuana. Their arguments can be countered with those that say marijuana should remain illegal.
Harmful effects: While many argue that marijuana cannot become addictive, and that it is not accompanied by harmful physical effects like cigarettes, scientific evidence has shown that these arguments aren’t necessarily true. According to a study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse marijuana has short term effects that include memory problems, difficulty thinking, distorted perception, a decline in problem-solving skills, and feelings of panic, fear, and anxiety. Also, marijuana can be addictive, and may weaken the immune system. This may increase one’s likelihood of getting cancer.
Gateway drug: One typically uses marijuana after first trying cigarettes or alcohol. If substances like cigarettes and alcohol can be a gateway to marijuana use, then why can’t marijuana lead to using other harder substances? Research conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that in over three hundred sets of twins where one twin had used marijuana and the other had not, the twin who had used marijuana was more likely to use other types of drugs. Numerous surveys have also shown that cocaine and heroin users tried marijuana first.
Potency: All too often people associate marijuana use with the calm, passive nature of the hippie movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s. This is not accurate because today’s marijuana is not your father or grandfather’s marijuana. According to CNN, the potency level of marijuana is higher than it has ever been. Marijuana’s potency is measured by the concentration of its active ingredient THC. For the first time, marijuana’s potency level has risen above 10 percent. In fact, the potency level will continue to rise. Experienced users are likely to decrease their intake of this higher potency marijuana, but younger first-time users are not likely to monitor their intake. Moderate to heavy use of highly potent marijuana can increase its negative effects.
Influx of new users: Legalizing marijuana will increase the number of people who use marijuana. Often, people want to try a substance like marijuana but they aren’t quite sure where to find it. If marijuana is readily available, curiosity seekers are likely to indulge themselves. In addition to new marijuana users who would legally be able to purchase marijuana, there will likely be an influx of younger users. Take cigarettes and alcohol as examples. The legal ages for purchase and use of these substances are 18 and 21 respectively; however, the age for first-first time users of cigarettes and alcohol continues to drop. It is highly doubtful that marijuana would be an anomaly to this frightening truth.
Marijuana legalization will continue to be debated for years to come, but considering these reasons for why marijuana should be illegal will help one make an informed decision about where he/she stands on the issue.