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The Great Marijuana Debate:
government has started cracking down on pot. They have started a so called “War on Drugs” that costs the government 50 billion dollars a year. (Moskos 2) Many Americans that this is a waste of billions of dollars and is, in fact, doing very little to help the community.
Recently, however, there has been a major reform in the Anti-pot movement. Many doctors now believe that Marijuana has medical benefits, and that if they believe it can be helpful then they should be able to prescribe it. As of January of 2010, fourteen states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. (Procon.org)
Now many people are pushing for something much more drastic. California has called for the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. They believe that it can bring in billions of dollars of revenue for the state, and if regulated, marijuana is a fairly harmless drug.
It’s All About the Money
legalize marijuana for recreational use has not only been yelled by the people on the streets. Many politicians have put forth an effort to legalize pot.
California is debt, and now they are scrambling for new ways to make a profit. Marijuana legalization is what politicians come up with. The state believes that it can make up to, and beyond 1.2 billion dollars a year by regulating and taxing the sale of marijuana for recreational use. (Welch 2)
What Are the Real Effects of Marijuana?
Many people who smoke marijuana would tell you that all it does is make you “happy.” Many experts would tend to disagree however. According to Above the Influence there are many more serious side effects than just “Being happy.” They say that the most serious and common side effect is impaired judgment.
Many people who are in favor of the legalization of marijuana would say that if you just look at the people who currently smoke marijuana you will see that they already don’t have the greatest judgment to begin with.
Above the Influence also says that it can cause a loss in coordination. Pot advocates would retaliate by saying “so how is it any different from alcohol?”
Marijuana also can make you hungry. Advocates for pot say that this is why it should be legalized for medical use, while anti-pot advocates would say all this is doing is hurting the individual.
There are also some major long term effects that can’t be denied by pot heads. It will always have a permanent effect on your lungs, worsening as you smoke more. It also destroys brain cells. (NIDA) No matter which way you see it pot has its ups and downs.
How Are Other Countries Dealing With this Problem?
In Amsterdam, where marijuana is legal, the number one thing people call the police about is for the sale of fake drugs. As Peter Moskos, a policeman who worked the drug corners in Baltimore for years, said “If fake-drug dealers are the worst problem in the red-light district, clearly somebody is doing something right” (2).
In fact, the crime and violence rate in Amsterdam is half the rate in the US, and the amount of adults who’ve tried Marijuana is only s17%, compared to the whopping 37% in the US (Moskos 3). And with the 50 billion dollars a year being spent on the “war” we can now ask ourselves “Is it worth it?”
Is Marijuana a “Gateway” Drug?
Although many tests have been conducted the overall question of marijuana being a “gateway drug” is still up in the air. Many surveys carried out in places such Amsterdam in 1987, 90,94, and 97, where pot is legal show that there is very few people who smoke marijuana do any other harder drugs.
(Drug Science) Here in America things are different. There is a much larger body of people who smoke marijuana and do other illegal drugs. Many would blame this on the simple fact that marijuana is illegal. Therefore, people who are already doing something illegal, are more likely to try other illegal things. Overall the question of this being a “gateway drug” is still undecided.
Medical Uses of Marijuana
Long ago in the Ancient Chinese Empire marijuana was used as a medicine to cure nausea and make people hungrier. Since then there has been much research into its medical benefits. It has now been proven that smoking marijuana does lessen the harsh symptoms of AIDS and the side effects of chemotherapy. Doctors believe that if they believe that marijuana could be beneficial to their patients, then they should be able to prescribe it. After all, can’t they prescribe much more dangerous drugs and remedies?
In an ABC News-Washington Poll in January of 2010, 81% of people wanted the legalization of marijuana for medical use (Welch 1). The FDA does not support this though. They think: “It’s a bad idea to approve medication by popular vote (Welch 2).” They need more proof of marijuana’s benefits before they approve of its use for medical purposes.
Is There Such a Thing as a “Responsible Pot Smoker?”
To answer this you would need to look at the smokers themselves. To smoke, while aware of the possible consequences is already slightly irresponsible. Some may argue that if used in moderation it can be completely benign. It may still take its small toll on your lungs, but it will not impair your judgment or actions. Others would say that this is completely false. You could still become addicted and the risk of a heart attack right after you smoke goes soaring through the roof. (NIDA) It all comes down to the person smoking and the condition they’re in.
According to NORML, a pot advocate site, there are five points to being a responsible smoker: adults only, no driving, set or setting that the user is in, resist abuse, and the respect of the rights of others. NORML believes that by following these step there is such a thing as a responsible pot smoker.
Marijuana Legalization: The Right Way to Go
With the pros and cons laid out, it seems to be obvious which side has one in this debate. The legalization of marijuana for recreational use seems to be the right way to go. Its long term effects are less severe than those of tobacco, and the short term effect are less than those of alcohol. The debt of California could be made up by regulating and taxing this drug and its medical benefits are also great. It can help people who are already having enough trouble with AIDS and cancer. It seems ridiculous not to allow doctors to prescribe it since they can prescribe drugs with much worse side effects. Amsterdam proved that by regulating it you can actually lower its usage rate, along with the violence rate. It can boost our failing economy, bringing in billions each year to the states. It is a great idea to legalize marijuana for recreational and medical purposes.
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