PROS and CONS of Marijuana Legalization
It’s a slow process, but our views on marijuana are gradually changing. Over 20 countries have now legalized it for medical purposes. Some of them have even decriminalized marijuana cultivation, possession, and personal use.
Our gradual acceptance of marijuana’s therapeutic benefits is a cause for joy. However, there are still some people who are unhappy about these changes.
But how did weed become such an evil thing that it was deemed illegal?
Brief History of Marijuana
Marijuana has been used since the ancient times. It was used to make ropes, papers, fabrics, etc. Marijuana was also used in rituals and religious ceremonies. More importantly, marijuana was used as a treatment for medical conditions.
The recreational use of marijuana originated in the Middle East. Its popularity as a recreational drug quickly spread across the world.
During the 1500s, Spanish colonization brought marijuana to South America. By the late 1700s, marijuana became a commercial crop and medicine in this part of the world.
Mexican immigrants to the US popularized recreational marijuana use. Although popular, it wasn’t considered a threat to the society then. It only became a social threat when an increasing number of Americans began to see marijuana users as troublemakers.
Campaigns were made against marijuana. They stated that this plant is the gateway drug. That it causes people to “do evil things.” That it destroys our society’s most basic unit – the family.
By the early 1900s, marijuana became illegal in the US. Its notoriety then spread to other countries. Soon, marijuana was criminalized worldwide. It was classified as a Schedule I Drug and deemed “no medical use.”
But the medicinal benefits of marijuana continued to fascinate people. After the discovery of the endocannabinoid system and the effects of marijuana on this important system, more and more people are beginning to see marijuana in a different light. Although research studies on medical marijuana are still limited, some countries have now legalized it for medical and recreational purposes.
Medical marijuana has helped millions of patients. But the debate on whether or not it should be legalized continues.
Pros of Marijuana Legalization
A growing number of people are supporting marijuana legalization for these reasons:
- It can treat chronic medical conditions.
Marijuana has powerful analgesic effects. It can even control intractable pain caused by nerve damage. Having potent anti-inflammatory effects, marijuana can help relieve symptoms of autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s Disease. The cannabinoids found in marijuana can also control treatment-resistant epilepsy and seizures.
Other medical conditions that marijuana can treat include Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It can also help mental health problems like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, autism, and anxiety disorders. Medical marijuana also benefits HIV/AIDS and cancer patients. It can even control symptoms associated with chemotherapy use.
- Medical marijuana is safer than most conventional drugs.
Over-the-counter and prescription drugs have many adverse side effects. Long-term use can even result in complications like kidney, gastrointestinal, and liver problems.
CBD has a relatively good safety profile. The World Health Organization has even studied and reviewed CBD and found it safe.
Studies have shown that chronic use of CBD, even at high doses, doesn’t produce any dangerous changes to our physiological parameters. It can deliver its therapeutic effects without doing significant harm to our organs. It may have side effects, but these are usually well-tolerated by patients.
It is safer than aspirin, Dr. Leslie Iversen even wrote in his book called “The Science of Marijuana.” Dr. Iversen is a professor in the Department of Pharmacology of Oxford University.
- Medical marijuana helps. It can help millions more.
There’s no doubt that marijuana has numerous therapeutic and medicinal benefits. This has already been proven by research studies and countless anecdotal stories.
In states where medical marijuana is legal, a drop in pharma sales is already evident. This drop was caused by the reduction in prescription doses when medical marijuana was added to the patients’ treatment regimen. Some have even fully switched to medical marijuana. A study conducted by an analytics company also showed that there has, indeed, been a drop in pharma sales.
Now, imagine how many more patients medical marijuana can help if it’s legalized.
- You can’t overdose on marijuana, unlike strong prescription drugs
Opioid painkillers and antidepressants are drugs commonly abused by patients. Take too much of these drugs and you run the risk of overdose and possibly even death. Long-term use of these drugs also puts your organs at risk of damage.
You can’t overdose on marijuana though. According to the 1988 marijuana rescheduling petition, you will have to consume about 1,500 pounds of marijuana in about 15 minutes for it to be lethal.
- Marijuana can help addicts wean off drugs like cocaine, opioid, alcohol, morphine, and even marijuana itself.
You might ask how one habit-forming drug can control addiction. But you forget about the properties of CBD.
Like illicit substances, THC also has a stimulating effect on our brain’s reward and pleasure centers. CBD, on the other hand, does not. Instead of stimulating these brain centers, CBD dampens their responses. CBD also reduces the pleasurable feelings produced by illicit drugs.
A non-addictive cannabinoid, CBD can even be used as a treatment for addiction.
Cons of Marijuana Legalization
Marijuana legalization may have many benefits, but it also has drawbacks.
- Marijuana has psychoactive effects and is habit-forming.
Among the many illicit substances, marijuana is still the most commonly used. With its legalization, there are fears that the number of people dependent on marijuana will only increase.
- Marijuana is the gateway drug.
Those against marijuana legalization have already used this argument countless times. They say that using marijuana makes you more vulnerable to alcohol, cigarettes, and illicit drugs.
But here’s the thing though. According to one study, it’s actually alcohol that’s the gateway drug. It’s what most teenagers and young adults try first. Once they consume alcohol on a regular basis, they are more likely to indulge in other illicit substances including marijuana.
- There will always be health problems associated with marijuana use.
Marijuana may have a lot of therapeutic benefits, but it also has negative health effects.
Chronic marijuana use can cause cognitive impairment, addiction, and lung problems. It can also affect brain development, especially if it’s taken at an early age. Prolonged marijuana use also increases the risk of developing psychotic disorders.
Short-term effects include increased risk of accidents since it affects judgment and motor coordination. Because it impairs your judgment, it also increases your risk of unprotected sex, pregnancy, sexual assault, and sexually-transmitted diseases.
- Secondhand marijuana smoke causes health problems.
Secondhand marijuana smoke causes psychoactive effects in nonsmokers. THC and its metabolites are also deposited in the non smoker’s fluids. When their blood or urine is tested for drugs, it will show a positive result.
If prolonged exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke causes health problems, so will prolonged exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke.
- It makes medical marijuana patients vulnerable to scammers.
Once marijuana is legalized, what’s stopping unscrupulous people from selling cheap and low-quality medical marijuana to unsuspecting patients? The more patients looking for cheaper medical marijuana, the more scammers will pop up.
Marijuana legalization will benefit a lot of people, especially patients. But the disadvantages of its legalization will also continue to divide people.