The war on drugs has been ongoing for decades in the United States and the world in general. One of the drugs that have been highly debated is marijuana. I believe the war against marijuana has resulted in several side effects. However, marijuana is not a bad drug as it is a plant ally without major harms to health, as compared to legal drugs like tobacco and alcohol, which are greatly lethal to health. There have been some reported psychological, medicinal, biological, and economic benefits, as well the fact that illegalizing infringes the freedom of the user.
Personally, I believe that the government has a right to limit the action and choices of an individual if they cause harm to others. This is the opposite when it comes to the issue of marijuana, as the choice to take cannabis is free will and only requires protection if it threatens the lives of others. Marijuana being illegal is against this aspect, as the likely harm to individual and others is less in comparison to tobacco and alcohol.
In comparison to marijuana, alcohol causes health problems to organs and cells, which cause approximately 35,000 deaths in the United States every year. Heavy consumption of alcohol induces unconsciousness, reduces the functions of the central nervous system, and may cause coma or even death. According to Baum (2016), worldwide, alcohol causes approximately 4% of all the deaths, which is more than violence, tuberculosis, or even AIDS. Comparatively, marijuana’s active compounds (cannabinoids) are moderately non-toxic to humans. In contrary to alcohol, marijuana is not fatal following overdose as it is not directly associated with injury and aggression.
Similarly, the impact of marijuana and tobacco is evidently variable. However, there are claims that one stick of marijuana is equal to five sticks of cigarette, which has been used by many to illustrate the dangers of marijuana. Cole (2018) states that daily pot smokers are at a risk of mild but significant air resistance in their airways, which is more than what is experienced by individuals taking 16 sticks of cigarettes in a day. Nonetheless, Baum (2016) explains that marijuana smokers’ lungs are better off in comparison to tobacco smokers. In addition, Cole (2018) argues that there are zero records of deaths related to lungs in marijuana smokers.
Socially, the majority of the public are of the opinion that marijuana should be legal. This is in accordance to polls conducted in the United States in 2017, which found out that approximately 61% of residents support the legalization of marijuana throughout the U.S. A similar study in 2019 has found that 94% of individuals support the legalization of marijuana in the country in comparison to 5% against the idea. In this case, there is a need to represent the will of the people by legalizing marijuana.
Another benefit of legalizing recreational marijuana is that it will help in the reduction of underground drug dealers and consumers. Additionally, legalization is likely to increase the amount of tax received by the government. According to McCarthy (2016), legalizing recreational marijuana will help the United States to save approximately $6 billion. If similar taxation to that of alcohol and tobacco was imposed on marijuana, there will be a collection of $7.7 billion in revenue through the legalization of marijuana. In total, the government would save approximately $13.7 billion every year. Economically, legalizing marijuana will create many jobs for residents in the production and marketing of marijuana.
Therefore, legalizing marijuana opens new sources of income for the federal and state government. Baum (2016) explains that tax revenue following the sale of recreational and medical marijuana would assist in clearing massive budget deficits. For example, in Colorado, there was a collection of approximately $200 million in tax revenue in 2016 following the legal sales of $1.3 billion. Another state enjoying benefits is California, which is likely to generate more than $1 billion in tax revenue in its recreational-pot industry.
One psychological benefit of marijuana usage is neuropathic pain reduction. Grant (2012) explains the common marijuana usage in the present day is managing chronic pain. In the health industry, chronic pain has been rated as the number one cause of reduced quality of life and individuals in pain look for strategies to cope with the pain. Studies have identified marijuana as one of the management approaches to chronic pain. Wilsey et al. (2013) explain that pain relief resulting from the ingestion of marijuana is due to its impact on the frontal-limbic cannabinoid receptor, as well as reducing anterior midcingulate cortex and altering the activity of primary sensorimotor and amygdala regions. It has been identified that cannabinoids are able to touch the “affective” qualities of pain more than anything (Grant, 2012). In simpler terms, marijuana helps to reduce the unpleasantness of pain rather than the intensity of pain.
Another psychological benefit of marijuana is mood boost or as a form of antidepressant. However, many have argued against this benefit because taking marijuana may result in schizophrenia, which is severe than depression. Nonetheless, studies identify that smoked marijuana results in the release of anandamide and dopamine, which produces a relaxing effect providing temporary relief to depression. Another benefit is the reduction of hostility among highly irritable individuals who are mostly treated with anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants, which uses marijuana to reduce the impact of frustration stimulus (Wilsey et al., 2013). For individuals struggling with insomnia, marijuana can be a solution as it promotes drowsiness and eliminates the overdrive and overthinking of the victims.
In conclusion, there is a need to legalize marijuana to reap the physiological, psychological, and sociological benefits it has on the body. As identified, recreational marijuana is less fatal than alcohol and tobacco, which are legal irrespective of the number of deaths they cause. Psychologically, marijuana reduces hostility, insomnia, boosts moods, and acts as a neuropathic pain reduction. Sociologically, legalizing marijuana will reduce underground drug dealers and consumers while increasing revenue for the country. These benefits and more are the reason to legalize marijuana.
Baum, D. (2016). Legalize it all. Harper’s Magazine, 24.
Cole, D. (2018). Recreational Marijuana and Traffic Fatalities: Sensationalism or New Safety Concern.
Grant, g. (2012). Medical Marijuana: Clearing Away the Smoke. The Open Neurology Journal, 6(1), 18-25. doi: 10.2174/1874205×01206010018
McCarthy, J. (2016). One in eight US adults say they smoke marijuana. Gallup website, August, 8.
Wilsey, B., Marcotte, T., Deutsch, R., Gouaux, B., Sakai, S., & Donaghe, H. (2013). Low-Dose Vaporized Cannabis Significantly Improves Neuropathic Pain. The Journal Of Pain, 14(2), 136-148. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2012.10.009
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