The proponents in the argument on whether marijuana should be legalized argue that the drug is generally harmless and the effects associated with it are not more dangerous than those associated with alcohol. However, the use of the drug has an effect on a person’s short term memory, cognition, coordination as well as balance, and when consumed in huge doses, the user may experience acute psychosis that may include hallucination and delusion. These symptoms have calamitous effects on driving that may lead to unnecessary demises and injuries in the event that users are involved in an accident. Research also demonstrates that the substance has a negative bearings on memory, as well as erudition and attention that may persist for a number of hours or even days subsequent to smoking. Therefore, an individual who consumes marijuana on a daily basis may be functioning at a decreased intellectual level in most of the cases and this is not an ideal outcome for a society that is already experiencing high unemployment rates. The emotional welfare of the people who use the drug is also at risk as it may increase the degree of depression and anxiety. In addition, the people who use the drug on a regular basis may have issues with their respiratory system that are similar to those experienced by tobacco smoker such as infections of the lungs as well less as diminishing of the immune system.
The proponents of marijuana legalization also assume that the drug is medicinal and thus cannot be hazardous for them. Regardless of this argument, the drug cannot be accepted for medical use as it has a high possibility of being abused while lacking the accepted safety measures. The American Medical Association reaffirms its opposition to the legalization of the drug, and maintains its official position that marijuana is a dangerous and this makes it a public concern in regard to health. Despite the argument that the drug is non-additive, prolonged use of the drug may lead to addiction as one out of ten users find themselves being dependent on the drug. The drug is particularly addictive for teenagers, where one in every six teenagers may get addicted with prolonged use.
The people advocating for the legalization of the drug state that the war on drugs has not been successful and that the costs associated with prohibiting the use of these drugs has placed a huge burden in the taxpayer as well as administration. Their argument that the law enforcement should utilize their resources in a more efficient manner instead of chasing users of this drug is what has informed the legalization of the drug in Colorado. However, most of the people who are in prison for crimes that are associated with marijuana are the main traffickers along with the distributors. Even though there are costs that are associated with criminal justice for the federal, state and local laws linked to marijuana, these costs cannot be decreased as they may be worsened if the drug is legalized or decriminalized. For instance, more than two and a half million arrests were conducted for crimes that were linked to alcohol abuse in 2010, and this was a lot higher than the total arrests that took place for all illegal drug use (Carroll, 2014). Considering that alcohol is a legal and extremely controlled substance, legalization of marijuana does not particularly mean that the burden experienced by the justice system together will law enforcement will decrease.
Arguments for legalization
Marijuana has been prohibited in the United States in one way or another since 1860 with a broad federal ban on the selling, consuming, transporting and producing of the substance legislated in the 1930s. The war on drugs started in the early seventies and has cost the government trillions of dollar is the fight against various substances such as marijuana (Ferragut, 2007). The prohibitions that have been instigated by the government have not been successful in preventing people from consuming the drug. The proponents of legalization state that if the ratio of persons who use the drug is to diminute, then the anti-drug campaigners must consider the success that has been experienced by the anti-tobacco lobbying. Rates of tobacco smoking have considerably reduced to a point where less than one out of five adults is now smoking. The number of smoking adults has significantly reduced since 1997 when almost twenty five percent of the entire adult population smoked. Even though legislations have been enacted to restrict the areas where people are allowed to smoke tobacco and taxes have been imposed on the substance, its use has not been made illegal. Therefore, other factors apart from complete proscription have discouraged individuals from using the substance. Furthermore, there are some countries such as Uruguay, that have already legalized the use of marijuana (Castaldi, 2012) .
Among the most popularly cited reasons against the legalizing marijuana is children who are not of legal age will have an unlimited access to the drug. Unfortunately, children can already access the drug and are consuming it at a progressively high rate regardless of the ban on its sale, use and production. Since 2002, it has been reported that adolescents find it simpler to access cannabis sativa than alcohol. The current laws have not been successful in stopping adult-use of marijuana and they have not been successful with the children and teenagers either (Carroll, 2014).
Proponents of the legalization of marijuana use the argument that the war or drugs has not been successful and has wasted a lot of taxpayer money to support their course. In 2008, the total expenditure by the government that was direct to the fight against the consumption of marijuana and its production was three billion dollars (Carroll, 2014). Regrettably, marijuana consumption continues to persist and more people continue to gain the belief that the drug has no harmful effects. In the United States, there is an arrest every nineteen seconds for an offence that is associated with drugs even though majority of these arrests are for drugs other than marijuana. Most of these arrests are for mere possession of the drugs making it an absurd wastage of resources by the law enforcement.
Simple enforcement of a ban on substances does not mean the markets associated with it will be eliminated; instead, it develops the underground market to become a black market. The black market take away consumer as well as seller safeguards which are present in the legitimate markets allowing everyone to fend for themselves. The black market has no legal protections or outlets that are supposed to support the sellers and customers who may be ripped off, and this in most of the cases leads to these parties settling their disputes in a violent manner.
Marijuana is currently classified in the same category as heroin and other precarious opiates, and while overdoses associated with heroine are many every year, chances of a person dying from overdosing on marijuana are close to none. Regardless, it should be remembered that marijuana is not completely harmless as there are considerable health impacts that are linked to continued use of the drug. Nonetheless, these effects should not be dwelled upon as the basis for absolute criminalization of the substance. There are numerous harmful substances that are legal such as alcohol and tobacco which are sold legally in the United States even though they are not completely healthy (Moon, 2014). Based on this comparison, the prohibition of marijuana should be lifted and instead honest awareness campaigns created to inform people concerning drugs and its impact if the consumption is to be reduced.
If the rates associated with tobacco were effectively reduced in a span of twenty years, it becomes positively practicable to imitate the same success with marijuana. Even though it may not be practical to legalize a substance so that its consumption can be reduced, a system that is adequately regulated is more superior to the present system of black market as well as violence. The legalization of marijuana has been at the centre of controversy in the country for a long time and even though the pro-legalization idea is gaining leverage, particularly with passage of laws that legal recreational use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, the issue has likelihood of being at the center of debate for many more years. These areas have already created a supportive set-up for entrepreneurs in the recreation industry allowing areas like Oregon to step up (Stites, 2014).
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