The legalization of marijuana for medical purposes in many states has evoked a variety of responses towards the legalization of marijuana for recreational or personal use. However, one needs to take into account a number of factors while legalizing marijuana. Factors such as the advantages and disadvantages of marijuana use, the harmful effects of the long-term use of marijuana, public opinion, use and misuse of marijuana, and how easy access to marijuana can affect individuals socially, psychologically, and biologically need to be considered. While legalization of marijuana for medical and therapeutic purposes sounds discretionary, it is quite suicidal to legalize marijuana use for recreational purposes as it can lead to a large variety of social, psychological and health related issues.
The advocates of legalizing marijuana do so because of the drug’s effectiveness in therapeutic and medical treatment and because the marijuana industry has the potential to bring about economic stability and progress to the state. For Gottfried, the beneficiaries of the medical and therapeutic use of marijuana include people from various economic levels, ethnicity and age such as AIDS victims, people suffering from depression, cancer and chemotherapy patients, glaucoma patients, and patients who suffer from muscular sclerosis (Gottfried, 2000, p. 73). In the same way, the supporters of legalization of marijuana also hold that marijuana is neither a narcotics nor it leads to addiction like alcohol or tobacco. Rosenthal, Kubby and Newhart (2003, p. 25), in this respect, observe that marijuana resources have the potential to build a multi-billion industry once marijuana use is legalized; the authors observe that the cost of prohibition of marijuana is “billions of dollars in missed opportunities: in taxes, profits, and wages.” Millions of people employed in the commercial marijuana industry and others who plant marijuana for personal uses can make up for the economic instability of the state once legalization of marijuana use is implemented.
On the other hand, the opponents of legalization of marijuana offer a number of reasons why marijuana should not be legalized. Goddard (1969), in this respect, warns people of the psychological dependency on marijuana through continuous use and argues that adolescents are most vulnerable to be victims of marijuana abuse. Goddard purports that “although the use of marijuana is a private act, it has the potential to cause harm to society” and that once marijuana has been made easily available it will be “widely used by adolescents who have not learned to cope up with the problems of daily life” (Goddard, 1969, p. 34). Similarly, there have been many studies on the psychological effects of marijuana among users. Studies have shown that marijuana consumption “can affect mood, sensitivity to external stimuli, and perception of time and space” whereas “high doses can lead to panic reactions, anxiety, and paranoia” (Goldberg, 2009, p. 252). Similarly, long-term use of marijuana can adversely affect the respiratory system. Marijuana causes psychological addiction in the user and constant users are likely to find much difficulty in the thinking process and many tend to have difficulty in their capacity of problem solving too.
To conclude, it can be stated that the adverse effects of marijuana outweigh its merits. Any attempt to legalize the recreational and personal use or cultivation of marijuana will be disastrous. Studies have also shown that even the medical use of marijuana and marijuana prescription by doctors should be undertaken with utmost care. Regulations and legislations with regard to marijuana use should ensure that the drug never becomes easily available to the common public for recreational use. While marijuana use has its own benefits and advantages, attempts to legalize marijuana use have more of adverse effects than positives. Thus, it can be concluded that while legalization of marijuana for medical use sounds sensible, its use for recreational or personal purposes is quite dangerous.
Goddard, J. L. (1969). Should it be Legalized? ‘Soon we will Know.’ LIFE, 67(18): 25-35.
Goldberg, R. (2009). Drugs Across the Spectrum (6th ed.). Cengage Learning.
Gottfried, T. (2000). Should Drugs Be Legalized? Illustrated ed: Twenty-First Century Books.
Rosenthal, Ed., Kubby, Steve & Newhart, S. (2003). Why marijuana should be legal (2nd ed.). Running Press.