Pro / Con: Legalizing Marijuana

October 31, 2017

In 1970, Nixon placed marijuana under a Schedule 1 drug, which John Ehrlichman who was assistant to Nixon for Domestic Affairs stated,”The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 illegal drugs were placed into a classification system ranging from 1 – 5, each level based on the drugs medical promise and potential for abuse. The most abusable drugs, with the least medical promise are placed in the Schedule 1 Level — this includes heroin, LSD, and surprisingly, marijuana.

Despite no reported deaths, and limited side effects, cannabis is still illegal in some parts of the country, but alcohol and cigarettes are legal despite having a reported 568,000 annual deaths in total according to the CDC and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

A way a drug can be placed at a lower schedule is if it is medical potential is shown in a large clinical trial, but schedule 1 drugs can only be used in small clinical trials, so marijuana is locked as a Schedule 1 drug until the DEA or FDA reschedules it or its illegal status is removed.

Marijuana’s initial illegalization dates back to the early 1900s.

During this time, the US was having a large influx of Mexicans immigrating as a result of the aftermath of the Mexican revolution. With them, they brought a native plant called cannabis, more commonly known as marijuana, which was used as a relaxant.

The US was reluctant to include these immigrants into their society and needed a reason to deport them.

They used marijuana.

The media spread false rumors about the drug, such as an article in the Los Angeles Times claiming someone who smoked marijuana had gone on a murdering rampage, and that people who smoke marijuana go insane and lose their mind.

Today the FDA refuses to reclassify the cannabis to a lower Schedule despite the fact that it is not dangerous, even the extracts of marijuana, such as cannabis oil which cannot get you high and shows medical promise is still a Schedule 1 drug despite Cannabinoid oil being used successfully to treat seizures and epilepsy.

Marijuana has shown promise in reducing the effects of diseases.

Patients with epilepsy have seen a 50% drop in seizures after being administered according to the NYU Langone Medical Center. Cannabinoid oil has also been found to reduce joint pain in people with arthritis and reduce antisocial behavior with those afflicted by Alzheimer’s.

Even disregarding its medical applications marijuana is safer than many legalized drugs, it is a healthy alternative to cigarettes, and studies by the National Institute of Drug Abuse show that alcohol and cigarettes have the same effect on the brain that marijuana has that prime the brain for harder drugs. The economic benefits of the drug are numerous to say the least, Colorado collected $135 million in tax revenue in 2015 by taxing the sale of marijuana.

Although blacks and whites have about the same rates of using marijuana, blacks have been arrested 4 times as much as white people for using or possessing the drug.

The benefits and uses of this drug are numerous, so why should we restrict the use because of laws based in racism?

62 percent. That is the increase in the number of fatal accidents in Colorado involving marijuana since its legalization in 2012.

Given that intaking marijuana can impair thinking, memory and body movements, it seems counterintuitive to allow this behavior in our community. Legalizing marijuana sends the message that an altered state of mind as a result of substance use is acceptable.

The detrimental effects of marijuana on an individual’s mind and body should provide a compelling enough argument against marijuana usage and legalization. A New Zealand study reported that chronic marijuana use starting in adolescence resulted in an average of an 8-point drop in IQ in mid-adulthood. If marijuana can be legally marketed to young adults, there will be serious intellectual impacts on future generations.

Physically, marijuana use can affect an individual’s posture, coordination, balance and reaction time. Furthermore, smoking marijuana irritates the lungs, leading to breathing problems and a high risk of lung infections. Marijuana use also increases the heart rate, leading to an increased risk of heart attack. In fact, since marijuana legalization in Colorado in 2012, marijuana-related hospitalizations increased by an average of 30 percent each year.

No, marijuana does not have any directly fatal side effects, but perhaps that is the exact reason why recreational use of it should be illegal.

The lack of side effects causes users to believe it is safe, when in reality they cannot go about their life under the same conditions as if they were not under the influence of marijuana.

Unlike alcohol, which can be tested through the use of a breathalyzer, there is no definitive way to test individuals under the influence of marijuana. As they get into their car or attempt to go about their normal lives, it is difficult to prevent accidents from occurring.

Supporters of marijuana legalization often compare the effects of alcohol with the effects of marijuana. However, there is one key difference between the two: with the exception of medical marijuana, every time someone smokes marijuana, they are abusing the drug, whereas alcohol users are not.

When a marijuana user starts smoking, his intention is to get high. This is abuse.

Alcohol consumption, on the other hand, provides the option to the user whether or not they want to get drunk when they start using the substance; many people drink alcohol simply because they enjoy the taste but have no intention of getting drunk. This is simply use.

As a result, it makes sense that drugs that gives users the option of abuse are legal, whereas drugs that force all users to abuse them should remain illegal.

No society is better off with marijuana use. The mood changes and hallucinations that marijuana provide contribute to strained relationships and detachment from society. In order to maintain engaged members of society, marijuana must remain illegal.

Ultimately, marijuana should not be underestimated. While it may not have the same severe side effects as drugs such as cocaine and heroin, it still causes detrimental effects to both the individual and society.

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Michael Melinger, Chief Multimedia Editor

Michael Melinger is a Senior at Clayton High School.  This is his fourth year on the Globe.  He currently serves as the Chief Multimedia Editor for the Globe.  This is his third...

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