The Decriminalization of Marijuana, Research Paper Example
Words: 3030Research Paper
The aim of this paper is to outline the rationale for the legalization of marijuana and thus to make a case for its consequent decriminalization. In this regard, the attention is paid to the benefits of using marijuana, effects marijuana has on the population, cons of legalization and the main arguments in favor of legalization. It is argued that the legalization of marijuana is not the precondition for its further spread rather a rational choice due to the existing discourse on the subject matter.
Key words: marijuana, legalization, drug abuse, decriminalization, pain relief.
The Decriminalization of Marijuana
In the history of human development, various aspects of human behavior had different evaluation in terms of social approval and criminal status. Although some actions like harming another human being are universally unlawful, the others are more controversial in their nature and social perception. One of such controversial issues is the matter of the legalization of marijuana in the USA. The aim of this paper is to make the case for the decriminalization of marijuana. In this regard, the attention is paid to the benefits of using marijuana, effects marijuana has on the population, cons of legalization and finally the benefits of legalization.
Benefits of using marijuana
The main rationale for the legalization of the medical marijuana in California and other twenty-two states was conditioned by the medical properties of the herb and its painkilling effect on the body (Beau, 2012). Consequently, the main argument in favor of the legalization of all marijuana is due to the benefits it has for the health of people using it. Recently, due to the increase of the interest to marijuana and its potential legalization, various medical examinations and research was conducted on its effect on various illnesses. First of all, it can be used for treatment of such an eye disease as glaucoma, because it can reduce the inner pressure in the eye, which can slow the development of the disease (Morgan, 2010).
According to one of the recent findings, smoking marijuana can reverse the impact of the smoking tobacco. It is argued that because in order to smoke marijuana the user has to make a deep breath it increases the lung capacity and the consequent functioning of the lung (Ruschmann, 2009). Marijuana also demonstrated to be effective in the treatment of epileptic seizures, although it was just tested on rats, preventing them from seizures for up to ten hours. The main explanation for this ability is conditioned by the ability of cannabinoids to bind the brain cells that are responsible for epileptic attacks (Russo, 2013).
Findings of another research demonstrated that marijuana is successful in stopping cancer from spreading by eliminating functionality of the gene Id-1, which is responsible for copying itself and entering the healthy cells, thus spreading the cancer (Russo, 2013). Further tests of breast cancer treatment demonstrated that after the sessions of marijuana treatment, the spread of cancer decreased. Thus, some researchers suggest that the use of marijuana might be able to prevent cancer or at least decrease the chances of its appearance. Other diseases that marijuana can slow down or ease include Dravet’s Syndrome, Alzheimer disease, multiple sclerosis. It also eases the effects of hepatitis C treatment, improving its effectiveness. It also relieves various pains including severe migraines and bone pains (Russo, 2013).
All mentioned above therapeutic benefits of marijuana for people with mentioned above diseases can be covered by the legalization of medical marijuana. So, the question is why it should be legalized for the rest of the population? What would be the benefits for other people to use it? First of all, the primary benefit of occasional use of marijuana is that it has a relaxing and calming effect on the user. In this regard, it relieves the body of stress and any type of pain. In terms of brain function, it numbs the highly active functions and lets the brain rest from the problems of the day (Russo, 2013). In this regard, the main function of marijuana for the users is that it relieves the stress that causes more cardio-vascular disorders than any other factor in our contemporary life.
For people that always under pressure marijuana could provide an alternative to such way of stress-relief as alcohol or other drugs. Although other drugs are illegal, it does not stop people from using them. So, legal marijuana would be a healthier alternative to the other two options. It would hurt the liver like alcohol and it would not damage the entire body like heavy drugs, which usually excite the body and nervous system instead of relaxing and calming it down like marijuana does (Russo, 2013). Furthermore, small doses of marijuana demonstrated to be effective in eliminating the symptoms of anxiety and depression. In terms of its painkilling effect, it is healthier than constant taking of the painkillers, mainly because cannabinoids affect the brain directly, while painkillers go through blood, and their remnants of their degradation accumulate in the liver damaging its normal function (Beau, 2012). Overall, the benefits for the user are tremendous so far it is a small dose and it is not a constant consumption that turns into a habit.
Effects marijuana has on the population
According to the international UN statistics, 158.8 million or 3.8% of world’s population uses marijuana (Morgan, 2010). In the US, in one of the surveys 94 million admitted trying it at least once. In 2007, 6.7% in the age group 12-17 were using marijuana (Beau, 2012). According to the US federal statistics, in the last twenty years domestic production of marijuana has increased from 1,000 metric ton in 1981 to 10,000 in 2006. Other statistics demonstrate that various criminal actions involved marijuana, in 2005, more than 242,000 visits to emergency involved marijuana (Ruschmann, 2009). Marijuana is also the second most popular substance after alcohol (Morgan, 2010).
This statistics demonstrates a few trends in marijuana’s effect on population. From one perspective, it becomes obvious that being illegal a certain part of the population considered it to be harmless to try. It also suggests that just as alcohol it can have both relaxing and harmful effect if abused. This suggests the second trend that just as any opiate if abused marijuana can result in criminal activity since it can blur one’s thinking and perception of deviance in their actions (Beau, 2012). However, this refers to the cases when it is abused just as alcohol is involved in various criminal actions when abused, yet it is legal for every full adult.
The main effect of marijuana on population is that if it is used in normal doses and not as habitual pattern, it would actually decrease the number conflicts among people and could pacify the population due to aforementioned properties of marijuana. It could eventually become a substitution for an alcohol, and it would definitely be a more socially-convenient substitution (Ruschmann, 2009). The main rationale for this argument is that the use and the abuse of alcohol results in a different behavior than the use and the abuse of marijuana. Under the influence of big dose of alcohol, people tend to become aggressive and defensive while the use of marijuana has the opposite effect. It relaxes people and calms them down. Thus, it can prevent the conflict from happening. On the other hand, the abuse of marijuana as any substance can result in abuse the potential development of addiction (Beau, 2012). In this regard, the impact of marijuana on population would be the development of another source of addiction and an element to destabilize the law and order balance in the society.
The problem of marijuana’s effect on population is dual because like with alcohol it largely depends on the way it is used and for which purposes. In this regard, people who intend to abuse marijuana will still buy it from their dealers illegally. People who will want to try it still will be buying from the same dealers. Those who will want to abuse this substance are not stopped by law at present, and the legalization of marijuana will only make it legal. On the other hand, the rest of the population will be given a choice to try marijuana by buying it in a safe and legal way or not to try it at all.
In terms of this discourse, it is also essential to outline that irrespective of the predominant fear that the legalization of marijuana will increase the crime rate and would stimulate further drug abuse that is a very unlike scenario to develop. The main rationale is that the population that lives a healthy life and considered any artificial stimulators to be irrelevant in their life will not care about marijuana legal or not (Morgan, 2010). Categories of the American society that are predisposition to commit a crime will commit it under the influence of marijuana legal or not or under the influence of alcohol or heavier drugs. At the end of the day, it is not the substance that trigger deviant behavior but an individual that makes a decision and who is convinced that committing a crime is his only option. Thus, the legalization of marijuana would not be the main source of crime escalation in the nearest future (Ruschmann, 2009). Consequently, the impact of marijuana on the population is that it will simply make it easier and safer to obtain rather than keep ordinary users in the grey zone between legal and illegal.
The cons of the legalization of marijuana
As any controversial issue, the legalization of marijuana has various arguments against it. First of all, it is often argued that the state should be involved in the dissemination of addictive substances, since it could be viewed as a state promotion of immoral actions harming one’s health and clarity of mind (Beau, 2012). This argument is often conditioned by the religious moral perception of the functionality of the state as a guardian of moral behavior of the people and it should discourage the use of soft drugs instead of encouraging it through the legalization.
The next argument is based on the escalation approach to the abuse of drugs. In this regard, antagonists of legalization argue that the legalization of marijuana would encourage people to use it resulting in a greater number of people developing addictions to this drug (Ruschmann, 2009). The mass consumption of the legalized marijuana is believed to trigger a greater demand for the hard drugs as a result of strengthening addiction to marijuana. Consequently, from the antagonists’ perspective, it is not only the state would encourage people to become drug addicts but also it would increase the demand for drug dealers and would assist drug cartels in making money in their business. Thus, the federal money spent on fighting cartels would be used for nothing (Kenneth and Xueyan, 2009). In this regard, it is also suggested that legalization and public support of marijuana would result in the encouragement of children to take drugs at a very young age since one of the drugs is legal than the others should not be too bad (Morgan, 2010).
Another widespread suggestion is that the legalization of marijuana would increase the crime rate and stimulate people to conduct deviant behavior (Beau, 2012). However, as it was outlined above deviation is conditioned by personal moral code and personal motivations rather than the use of marijuana itself. In terms of the economic perspective of the matter, it is also argued that marijuana should not be legalized because it would create an undesired demand for which the national market would be able to satisfy. This would require creating more marijuana farms and using more fertile lands for growing marijuana. In other words, by legalizing marijuana, the land which could be used for growing food would be used for growing marijuana which is more expensive than tomatoes, for instance (Morgan, 2010).
It is also outlined that the abuse of marijuana can result in severe health problems. It can result in long-term memory loss, learning difficulties, potential lung infection, increase in the heart rate and also it is assumed that it results in the permanent brain damage (Morgan, 2010). Thus, in a long run, the legalization of marijuana would result in deterioration of population’s health level and would eventually result in weaker and more ill the next generation of American citizens (Ruschmann, 2009). Consequently, is argued that the state should be interested in securing health and well-being of its people and not encourage them to make choices harming their lives.
All mentioned above antagonistic arguments are based on morality and duties of the state and the assumption that by legalizing marijuana all people would just rush to take and abuse it. This rationale does not take into consideration the diversity of people and motivations for their actions. They also do not take into account that people who want to take marijuana will take it legally or not, and those who do not want to will not. It is the matter of free will. From a psychological perspective, the forbidden item is usually the most desired and keeping marijuana outside the legal framework makes it even more desirable particularly for teenagers who would get this way or the other. The only difference would be that they could get it safely when they are of the right age, or they could get involved with the wrong people and end up in the criminal circles (Morgan, 2010). Except for this refutation of the cons, there are also other pros which need to be taken into account.
Pros for the legalization of marijuana
First of all, the legalization of marijuana would make the way of its obtaining safer for the users, who would not be robbed or killed in the wrong places. It would take the market of marijuana from the hands of drug cartels and would locate it is the local or federal governmental hand (Beau, 2012). In this regard, when the market would be controlled by the state, the drug cartels would not be able to gain profit from marijuana on the black market, which is the major source of their income. It would also discourage them from growing their marijuana on various locations in the national parks across the US (Kenneth and Xueyan, 2009). In other words, when the demand of the national market would be satisfied by the state, growing marijuana for the black market and transport it abroad would be simply unprofitable. The main benefit for the local, state and federal government is that legalization would result in the opportunity to put taxes on marijuana. It would become an immense source of funding the local budgets which can be used for further improvement of the law enforcement activities (Kenneth and Xueyan, 2009). Another important aspect in this context is that the efforts and the funds spent on the law enforcement in their fight against marijuana dealing and trafficking across the country could be redirected in a different sphere. They could be used for fighting gang crime or homicide investigations instead of chasing marijuana producers and spending time on distinguishing medical marijuana producers from the illegal ones (Ruschmann, 2009).
In terms of the existing marijuana stores that sell medical marijuana, the legalization of marijuana would provide them also with a greater security. First of all, their employees would not be stopped and detained by police all the time. They will not have to keep all their money in cash in safes on the premises, being a mark for robbery. The point is that banks are reluctant to accept money that had anything to do with marijuana business, since according to the federal law marijuana is illegal and they do not want to endanger their funds (Beau, 2012). Thus, it is the illegal status of marijuana that encourages crime in this situation.
In terms of the perspective of the private businesses, they are ready for the legalization of marijuana and the boost it would make to marijuana-related sectors of industry. In this regard, medical marijuana legalization in California triggered the development of companies specializing in seed and land preparation for marijuana cultivation, machines for its collection and processing, various types of smoking devices, supporting items like T-shirts and key holders and many other things reacted to it (Kenneth and Xueyan, 2009). The main rationale in this context is that legalization would boost this sector of the economy, stimulating further employment. From the global perspective, legalization would also stimulate marijuana tourism like it did in Amsterdam (Beau, 2012).
The benefit of legalization for ordinary people is that they are given a freedom of choice about whether they want to use or marijuana or not. They do not need to find some deviant places in order to buy marijuana for recreational use (Morgan, 2010). Also, people that use medical marijuana by prescription will not have to go to isolated places away from the main streets were medical marijuana shops are allowed to be located by the current state law. It would be much more convenient for them to obtain it and use for the medical purposes.
In fact, from all mentioned above it can be concluded that there is no strong evidence against the legalization of marijuana. At the first glance it may seem that legalization of a drug is against the law and order paradigm; however, the soft category of marijuana make it the same as alcohol and tobacco leaving its use to the choice of an individual rather than the matter of governmental discussions and regulations. The legalization of marijuana would benefit everyone from the government to the ordinary recreational user. On the other hand, the continuation of the argument and polarization of society in terms of this argument make no good to any side. It only keeps medical marijuana producers in the grey zone and enforces the local authorities to distinguish between these shades of grey and try to explain to the taxpayers what the difference is.
Beau, K. (2012). Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kenneth, C. and Xueyan Z. (2009). Economic and Marijuana: Consumption, Pricing and Legalisation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Morgan, K. (2010). Legalizing Marijuana. Edina, MN: ABDO Publishing.
Ruschmann, P. (2009). Legalizing Marijuana. New York, NY: Chelsea House.
Russo, E. (2013). Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Therapeutic
Potential. Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Integrative Healing Press.
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