The political pressure to legalize marijuana is mounting and it tosses the politicians to the left and right. While some are able to defend the health value of the citizens, others are aggressively endorsing and promoting it because they are the users and are echoing the same demand to allow them to use it at their discretion without being penalized legally.
When it comes to legalize marijuana, such as in Canada, the common argument that is used and magnified by the media and has caused the government to bend down to this demand is that the government will earn more taxes and make more profits. This economic benefits causes entrepreneur politicians to decriminalize marijuana and the government gets into the business of producing marijuana for medical purposes as in Canada and the Netherlands. Has Canadian government earned high profit the market promises it would? Not really. After 40 years of producing and selling marijuana, the Netherlands government went bankrupt. How could it be possible? Will the government benefits from legalizing marijuana?
This research describes the political movement toward legalization of marijuana, health perspective of marijuana, and the legal and health impact from the use of marijuana.
Politics & Marijuana
It is surprising that those who stand behind the agenda or those who put a pressure on the government to legalize marijuana are the users themselves. Even among the regular users of marijuana are politicians and medical professionals. Said Linn, Yager, and Leake (1989), these politicians and medical professionals are the users themselves. Their preferences of legalizing marijuana have nothing to do with their professional and expertise. Rather, it is because they are younger, have no religious foundation, politically more liberal, and are more likely to be in favor of the use of drugs in society (ibid). They are also marijuana users who have used cocaine, tranquilizers, amphetamines, and are smokers and heavy drinkers (ibid).
Amid the dangers of drugs on human consumptions, politicians are nurturing the demand and raising public sentiment toward the government because on one hand they want to do what they please (Boyte, 2004), on the other hand, they are being financially funded by the marijuana and drug producers and drug suppliers to become politicians. In other word, drug and marijuana producers have been the main financial backing of the politicians. Consequently, their interests are being protected and promoted by these politicians who cannot risk losing the votes and thousands of dollars in political donations. It is as if their political survival is determined by the fund they receive from these interest groups.
Health and Education
We have been bombarded with the wrong message about the soothing feelings and the pleasures experienced by those who are using and addicted to marijuana. However, there has never been any scientific proof that indicate marijuana is good or healthy for human consumption.
For decades, we have been bombarded with common sense mentality and practicality that we reject scientific reality (Sayers, 1992). It causes us to have narrow ideas and low range valuation of the true values of education (White, http://www.whiteestate.org/books/ed/ed.asp). However, knowledge or education is the great weapon against deceiver. It is wisdom. This wrong message should be corrected with true education so that children, adolescents, and adults may gain physically, mentally, and spiritually as healthy individuals. Said White, “True education means more than the pursual of a certain course of study. It means more than a preparation for the life that now is. It has to do with the whole being, and with the whole period of existence possible to man. It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers. It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world and for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come” (ibid, p. 14).
Legalization of Marijuana and Its Impact
The use of drugs has impacted the future of the users. Those who are caught with marijuana and drugs and imprisoned. Their preferences also carries economic, health and psychological costs.
Economically they would find it difficult to gain employment once they are out of jail. Health wise, they are more likely taking other drugs and suffering from mental and psychological problems. Joffe & Yancy (2004) stated teenagers and adolescents who take marijuana would also take other drugs such as opium, cocaine, and other hard drugs. The potential impact of legalization of marijuana may represent the commercialization of alcohol drinks and cigarettes. Producers and distributors may create marketing campaign targeting the adolescents. Experience shows that even though tobacco companies have been rendered with million dollars penalties, they are still targeting youths and adolescents in their sales (Joffe & Yancy, 2004).
Alcohol drink and smoking tobacco have become common advertising in the media – from the sports to Hollywood movies. Similar advertising would also be used to sell marijuana (ibid). Producers and distributors of marijuana will seize the opportunity of open marketing to maximize profits (ibid).
According to Armstrong (2003), “The recreational possession and use of some drugs is regarded as a criminal offense in every state in the nation. (1) What this means for an offender is that the state views discrete incidents of detected possession not as manifestations of an over-arching addiction, but as isolated crimes deserving punishment. This approach comports with a traditional perception of drug addiction as being explicable as an offender's repeated and willful refusal to abstain from using drugs. (2) If repeated drug use is interpreted as a result of willful choices, then there is no theoretical difficulty in punishing isolated uses as separate crimes. (3)”
Other states use a class of drug users as a treatment process, they added. Consequently, the treatment process induces dependency yet, it is rationalized that the treatment would reduce their prison sentence (ibid). Though it is argued that the use of drugs is a therapeutic mechanism to these drug users, the treatment will not help them to become free of drug influence but is making them to become dependent on drugs. From marijuana dependency, they are developing drug dependency under the state care.
The legal impact in legalization of marijuana also requires the state to monitor the activities of those who are using this program as a mean to distribute marijuana and other drugs associated with the prolong use of marijuana. It may trigger the use of drug court associates with criminal and civil issues in terms of the use of marijuana and other drugs (ibid). The Netherlands shows that decriminalization of marijuana increases marijuana use by adolescents (ibid). Imagine if it is legalized. Like cigarettes or alcohol drinks, people of all ages would use take it in any form. However, what are the impact of marijuana on health? So far, the argument of the marijuana users is that, apart from helping the government to maximize tax dollar, it helps the users to become more sociable, as the media put it, or it calms their nerves for those who have AIDS and other diseases.
Never in the history of health, has that indicated marijuana healthy or is medicinal but only to those who are heavy users. They have been dependence on marijuana and are hallucinogenic about its impact on their health.
According to Patton, Coffey, Carlins, Degenhardt, Lunskey, & Hall (2002), numerous survey have been done about psychopharmacologic properties in marijuana. Scientists found that marijuana users suffer from heavy depression and experience withdrawal that is linked to corticotropin-releasing factor, which is the brain chemical associates anxiety and stress during opiate, alcohol, and cocaine withdrawal (Rodriguez de Fonseca, Carrera, Navarro, Koob, & Weiss, 1997). Tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana, also stimulates the release of dopamine in the mesolimbic area of the brain, which is the same neurochemical process that reinforces dependence on other addictive drugs (Tanda, Pontieri, & Di Chiara, 1997). Other significant effects of the use of marijuana are neuropharmacologic, cognitive, behavioral, and somatic consequences (Arseneault, Cannon, Poulton, Murray, Caspi, & Moffitt, 2002). Acute and long-term use of marijuana causes short-term memory loss, weakens brain power in concentration, reduces attention span and motivation, and the person is unable to gain problem solving skills (ibid). These conditions interfere with learning ability and the adverse effects include poor coordination, judgment, reaction time, and tracking ability, which are significantly contribute to unintentional deaths and injuries among adolescents (especially those associated with motor vehicles) (Patton, Coffey, Carlin, Degenhardt, Lynskey, & Hall, 2002); Zammit, Allebeck, Andreasson, Lundberg, & Lewis, 2002). Other negative health effects associate with repeated use of marijuana causes addiction similar to smoking tobacco (ibid). Three recent studies done by American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Substance Abuse (1999), Patton, Coffey, Carlin, Degenhardt, Lynskey, & Hall (2002), Zammit, Allebeck, Andreasson, Lundberg, & Lewis (2002), demonstrated an association between marijuana use and the subsequent development of mental health problems. Zammit, Allebeck, Andreasson, Lundberg, Lewis (1969), MacCoun (1993), and Arseneault, Cannon, Poulton, Murray, Caspi, & Moffitt, (2002), found the mental health problems associate with the use of marijuana include psychosis, schizophrenia, have unpleasant experiences, mood swings, confusion, hallucinations, paranoia, and experience other psychotic disorders (ibid). Behavior wise, marijuana users seem to be socialable and calm but only temporary but the after effects show that they have violence behavior, aggressive, and difficulties in sleeping (Arseneault, Cannon, Poulton, Murray, Caspi, & Moffitt, 2002).
Conclusion & Recommendation
Children and adolescents are the future of the nations. They need to be taught true education. Their purity of mind and mental development should not be mingling with corrupt education and cause them to become confuse. Their mental and spiritual power will be numbed if we allow the legalization of marijuana. It causes them to indulge themselves with this potent substance and is not capable to grow and become right individuals with proper responsibilities.
Politicians have been corrupted and are not experts in the field of health or public policy. Their words spread public sentiment and can be dangerous to the life of the citizens. In fact, politicians should go back to school and let the policy makers make public policy.
Legalizing marijuana has never been a positive out come but it retards the nation of its mental, physical, and spiritual powers.
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