In the past few decades, there have been debates on the issue of legalizing marijuana in the country both for recreational and medical use. This has brought varying cultural attitude changes towards the drugs. Due to this, many residents are of the opinion of legalizing marijuana. However, I believe legalizing marijuana would cause problems based on the route of administration, dispensation, production, approval, as well as negative health effects. Although some states like Washington and Colorado have legalized marijuana, it is my opinion that this does not tackle the negative effects of marijuana particularly in adolescents. Therefore, if the country legalizes recreational marijuana, it will expose the nation to public health effects as illustrated in this assignment.
Sociologically, the issue of marijuana is worsened by the belief that marijuana is not addictive. However, a study conducted by Miller, Oberbarnscheidt, and Gold (2017) highlight that marijuana is addictive whereby it causes addiction to approximately 10% of its users and the number is higher among adolescents. Lake and Kerr (2017) suggest that individuals seeking treatment for marijuana addiction have used the drug daily for 10 years. In addition, withdrawing from marijuana is likely to cause changes in appetite, lead to depression, insomnia, restlessness, and anxiety. These impacts affect approximately 44% of users, which illustrates the potential addictiveness of cannabinoids. Hajizadeh (2016) explains that the addictive potential of marijuana is less than that of opiates, but there is a misguided belief that marijuana is not addictive.
Lake and Kerr (2017) explain the use of marijuana impairs the ability of an individual to judge speed, distance, and time, as it reduces the ability to track moving object and reaction to time. Rehm, Crepault, and Fischer (2017) identify that marijuana is the second following alcohol to cause drug-related motor vehicle fatalities. Similarly, a study conducted by Hall and Lynskey (2016) identifies that in motor vehicle fatalities resulting in deaths of drivers, 12% of cases showed they had taken marijuana recently. There are also studies that have highlighted that acute cannabis intoxication increases the risk of motor vehicle fatalities. Sociologically, it is evident that recreational marijuana for the safety of society should remain illegal.
Marijuana poses users to the risk of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorder. Several studies have been explored the connection between marijuana and schizophrenia where it fulfills the majority of the epidemiological establishment of causation criteria including biological plausibility, biological gradient, temporal relationship, and experimental evidence (Rehm, Crepault, & Fischer, 2017). However, the remaining criteria are not fulfilled – based on the genetic variations in marijuana in the case of schizophrenia, genetically vulnerable persons are at greater risk if they take marijuana. Hall and Lynskey (2016) explain that the risk of psychotic disorder is higher if marijuana is taken at an earlier age.
Hall and Lynskey (2016) explain that the use of marijuana is likely to affect the respiratory system where it is established that it reduces pulmonary function in heavy users, increases the risk of lung cancer, and causes obstructive and inflammatory lung disease. Other health problems associated with continual use of marijuana include organ symptoms like immunologic, gastrointestinal, and reproductive systems. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), marijuana although not addictive on its own is classified as a gateway drug where the user is at risk of abusing other drugs in future (Miller, Oberbarnscheidt, & Gold, 2017). Therefore, marijuana will not only make the user a drug addict but it will harm their hearts, lungs, and brain. These physiological effects are an indication that marijuana should remain illegal.
Several studies have identified a cognitive reduction of marijuana (particularly for heavy and early users), which are likely to persist for a period after an acute cannabis intoxication. The situation is heightened if marijuana was introduced during adolescent where it results in cognitive impairment in various areas including verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, memory loss, processing speed, and executive functioning. Although many argue against this relationship stating that marijuana is affected by the socioeconomic status of an individual, there is an independent relationship between marijuana use and loss of intelligence among the users.
Among adolescents, the perception towards marijuana has increased its use in the population. Hajizadeh (2016) explains that there is an inverse correlation between perception and use of marijuana where the use of marijuana increases resulting from wane in marijuana perception. This is because more states and countries have legalized medical and recreational marijuana reducing the risk perception and in turn increases the use of marijuana. This is the major issue facing the legalization of marijuana where it continues to affect negatively, mostly the youths. For example, the use of marijuana at a tender age increases the risk of short and long-term psychosis and cognitive impairment.
In conclusion, although marijuana has therapeutic benefits, there is a need to maintain the illegality of marijuana particularly recreational marijuana. This is due to the adverse health effects associated with the intake of marijuana. For example, the study identifies that marijuana is addictive. In addition, recreational marijuana has adverse effects on the respiratory system, intelligence, and mental health. Acute intoxication of marijuana increases the risk of fatal motor vehicle accidents. Therefore, although legalizing marijuana will result in unproven or theoretical benefits socially, we should not overlook the negative public health and social cost. There lack enough strategies to ensure that legal marijuana will not affect the youths as was illustrated in the discussion on the impact of perception towards risk and its effect among adolescents.
Miller, N. S., Oberbarnscheidt, T., & Gold, M. S. (2017). Marijuana Addictive Disorders: DSM-5 Substance-Related Disorders. J Addict Res Ther S, 11, 2.
Hajizadeh, M. (2016). Legalizing and regulating marijuana in Canada: review of potential economic, social, and health impacts. International journal of health policy and management, 5(8), 453.
Lake, S., & Kerr, T. (2017). The challenges of projecting the public health impacts of marijuana legalization in Canada: comment on” Legalizing and regulating marijuana in Canada: Review of potential economic, social, and health impacts”. International journal of health policy and management, 6(5), 285.
Rehm, J., Crépault, J. F., & Fischer, B. (2017). The devil is in the details! On regulating cannabis use in Canada based on public health criteria: comment on” legalizing and regulating marijuana in Canada: Review of potential economic, social, and health impacts”. International journal of health policy and management, 6(3), 173.
Hall, W., & Lynskey, M. (2016). Evaluating the public health impacts of legalizing recreational cannabis use in the United States. Addiction, 111(10), 1764-1773.
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