- Health problems
Similar to other drugs, marijuana use has harmful effects on the health of users. Marijuana use can lead to short term loss of memory, damage of brain cells, and respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and lung cancer. As compared to cigarette smoking, marijuana smoking produces approximately 3 to 5 times more tar. Smoking marijuana 3 times in a day leads to much harm as smoking a pack of cigarettes in a day. In addition, marijuana has over 400 chemicals that comprise of some of the most hazardous harmful chemicals that are found in cigarettes, smoking of marijuana produces approximately 50% to 70% more carcinogenic hydrocarbons as compared to cigarettes. Other short term effects include: anxiety, increased heart rate, reduced muscle strength, decreased motor skills, reduced problem solving and thinking ability, distorted perception, and memory loss. Marijuana also affects the mental development of young people, their capability to focus on class work, and their initiative and motivation to attain goals. In addition, legalization of marijuana will increase to the problems that already exist due to alcohol and tobacco use (Goldacre 89)
- Marijuana use can lead to use of other drugs
The use of marijuana can result in the use of other hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Research has indicated that the use of marijuana often advances to the tendency to use other harder drugs. Individuals, who experiment with drugs such as marijuana which they consider as harmless, often graduate to the use of other harder drugs that lead to higher levels of intoxication. This problem is further worsened because people do not start using harder drugs directly; they begin by experimenting (Costa 39)
- Legalization can lead to increased use of marijuana by the youth.
The legalization of marijuana can result to increased chances of the youth accessing the drug. Alcohol and cigarettes are banned from being sold to underage kids, this prohibition is because such kids do not have the same judgment, responsibility, and reasoning as an adult. Additionally the bodies of such kids cannot be able to handle the intake of these harmful substances. For marijuana the problem is worse because marijuana use can hinder the proper development of bodies and brains of such kids. Legalizing marijuana will make it more accessible to kids; a good example is the case of Netherlands where marijuana was legalized in smoke shops. This move led to the increased consumption of the drug by 3 times among youth aged between 18 and 20.
- Increased drug-related crimes
The legalization of marijuana will most likely lead to increased crimes that are related to drug use. Individuals, who use, traffic, sell, or produce drugs are normally established criminals who frequently break the law. Such people are not constrained to only committing drug related offenses; they are also likely to commit other crimes such as murder, rape, and robbery (Saitz 16).
- Ethical and moral considerations
Many moral codes, countries, and religions consider the legalization of marijuana as morally or ethically wrong. The mere fact that alcohol and cigarettes are not prohibited does not justify the legalization of marijuana. The idea that every one is entitled to his/her freedom goes against the principle of social interaction that forms the existence of human beings. The use of marijuana by an individual not only affects that individual; it has an impact on work, colleagues, parents, children, and the society at large.
The issue of legalization of marijuana is clearly a controversial one; there are people who support its legalization while others are strongly against it. Both sides have come up with valid arguments for their cases, nevertheless inconsistencies and contradictions are there in both cases this suggests that in the end this issue will evolve into a pragmatic one. For those who support the legalization of marijuana, they have a problem of defining the legal boundaries. The issue of how hazardous a drug should be before it is illegalized is not clearly addressed. In an era when there are increasing pressures with regards to alcohol and tobacco use, marijuana legalization becomes a contradictory matter. The resources used in imprisoning offenders will have to be directed on health programs to take care of problems caused by drugs that will be legalized in future. On the other hand, those who oppose legalization are not able to address the issue of tobacco and alcohol use coherently. All in all, only time will tell how governments will be able to deal with the issue of legalizing the use of marijuana.