Substance abuse has been a concern in most countries especially in the US due to the negative effects of such drugs on the health of the users. Thus, the government in a bid to reduce the social costs associated with the use of such drugs usually enforces stringent rules and regulations. However, drugs also have some benefits to the society. Marijuana refers to “a dry, shredded green and brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves derived from the hemp plant cannabis sativa” (Reinarman and Cohen 837). Marijuana has both psychoactive and medicinal effects. In North America, the legality of marijuana varies from one state to another. For instance, in some states, possession of small quantities and responsible use of marijuana has been decriminalized. However, the use of marijuana remains illegal in some states such as Texas. This paper will debate the legalization of marijuana on medical grounds.
Arguments against Legalization
The legalization of marijuana has always been opposed due to the following reasons. First, those who are against its legalization contend that it is a gateway drug. Therefore, its legalization will increase consumption of drugs such as alcohol, which are used with it. Second, they contend that the use of this drug has negative effects on the health of its users. This is because it can cause mental illnesses and complications such as lack of concentration. Third, legalization of this drug has always been opposed due to the fact that its usage leads to behavior disorders (MacCoun and Reuter).
Consequently, the intoxication associated with it can lead to cases of crime and violence. Finally, legalization of marijuana has been opposed on the basis that quitting its addiction is very difficult. Hence, it is likely to have long-term effects on the users and the society. Besides this, commercial production of the drug will enhance its availability to the adolescents. This is based on the fact that the minors are likely to access it through their parents, or get influenced to use it through sales campaigns. In order to avoid these consequences, those who oppose the use of this drug have proposed tough regulatory measures against it.
Arguments in Favor of Legalization
Marijuana should be legalized on medical grounds since it has been empirically proved that it has therapeutic effects. Modern research indicates that marijuana can be used to treat “neuropathic pain, nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, and movement disorder” (Joffe and Yancy 634). Marijuana can also be used to stimulate appetite among patients suffering from HIV/ AIDs and dementia. Emerging research findings reveal that marijuana can also be used to prevent malignant tumors.
Besides this, an overdose of the drug cannot lead to death. This makes it a safe medicinal drug that will improve the health of citizens. Thus, legalizing marijuana will enable doctors to freely prescribe it to patients who suffer from various diseases. It will also protect citizens from being arrested for using marijuana for medical reasons. In addition, stigmatization of its users will also fade off.
Medicinal marijuana will significantly reduce medical expenses to patients who cannot afford expensive manufactured drugs available in the local pharmaceutical outlets. Moreover, it will act as an alternative medicine to patients who have developed resistance to some medications they have been relying on.
The premise that consistent use of the drug will lead to negative health effects on the users is misguided. This is because research reveals that consistent users of marijuana tend to develop their own etiquette in terms of personal norms and values, which guide them in using marijuana. Thus, the users of marijuana have a mechanism for controlling their consumption of this drug. This enables them to avoid the negative health effects associated with it. Apart from this, the citizens can be educated by the government and the producers of marijuana on responsible consumption. It has also been proven that the users tend to reduce the frequency at which they use marijuana over time. This finding counters the notion that quitting the use of marijuana is challenging.
The social costs of using marijuana in terms of expenditure, mortality and morbidity are considered to be lower as compared to other drugs such as tobacco and alcohol. This makes marijuana a better alternative as compared to other drugs. Finally, legalizing the drug will improve the financial position of the country through the taxations that are associated with its production.
Laws can be enacted to guide the production and the consumption of medicinal marijuana. Such laws will define who can buy the drug, where it can be sold, and the penalties that will be used against those who will violate the regulations. Finally, the belief that legalization of marijuana will increase its availability and usage especially by adolescents is not valid. This is because research findings on the use of this drug indicate that the level of its availability, and the age at which users begin to consume it is the same between countries that criminalize it and those that have decriminalized it.
The above analysis shows that marijuana has several benefits. The policies that have been used to discourage its use have also failed since its usage is still popular despite its criminalization (Joffe and Yancy). It is also possible to manage the negative effects that are associated with it. This implies that it is not as dangerous as believed by those who oppose its use. Thus, the use of marijuana should be legalized in the society in order for people to use it responsibly. Last but more important, the medicinal aspect of marijuana can only be beneficial to many patients if it is legalized.