Legalization of Marijuana Essay Sample
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Legalization of Marijuana Essay Sample
A hot topic in this day and age that has many United States lawmakers, reformists, and citizens alike battling is the issue of legalizing marijuana. There are many benefits in the legalization of marijuana. There are several organizations throughout the United States that support the legalization of marijuana, including NORML, the Reform party, and many citizens as well. In the United States, marijuana is considered to be a Scheduled I controlled substance. This means the marijuana is considered to be a drug that can be easily abused (www.NORML.com). The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, also known as NORML, has made attempts to get the Drug Enforcement Agency to reschedule marijuana, but have been rejected at all attempts.
One of the main reasons marijuana should be legalized is for its many medicinal uses. Marijuana has had a long history of use as a medicine. Many lobbyist groups such as the Cannabis Action Network and Indiana Civil Liberties Union believe that marijuana is a beneficial herb, and not a harmful drug. As of right now, eight states have passed medical marijuana initiatives. Those states are “Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Oregon, Nevada and Washington. Arizona and California voters approved medical marijuana laws in 1996. Voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington approved laws in 1998. Voters in Maine approved their medical marijuana initiative in 1999. Voters in Colorado and Nevada approved medical marijuana laws in 2000. District of Columbia voters approved an initiative in 1998 with 69 percent of the vote, but Congress later overrode the law (NORML)”.
The Medicinal Plant Garden, at the University of Mississippi, is part of the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, has been growing Marijuana for the past four years. The main chemical in marijuana is THC. This chemical shows up in capsule form known as Marinol, which contains 95% THC. Marinol “is used for nausea and vomiting problems in cancer patients as well as fighting the wasting sickness, or anorexia-cachexia, suffered by 70 to 90 percent of AIDS patients (Yates, 1).” The garden is currently working on a suppository form of THC to replace the Marinol.
Marijuana’s pain alleviating benefits have shown up in patients who suffer from glaucoma (an eye disease that causes blindness), cancer, and AIDS. “These days, the medical profession has found several applications for the marijuana plant. The medicine, tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC, (the active ingredient in marijuana) has been found again and again to help patients battling the life-threatening diseases of cancer and AIDS to fight the intense nausea that causes their wasting sickness. Marijuana also helps glaucoma victims by reducing the intraocular pressure. It reduces, sometimes eliminating altogether, the seizures of epileptic patients, along with reducing nerve disorders of multiple sclerosis patients. A recent discovery by a South Florida doctor concerns the fact that if THC is placed in a test tube with the herpes virus, the THC will kill the herpes virus (Yates, 2).”
Marijuana can be used as medicine for nausea, appetite stimulation, and stimulation of the immune system, relief from vomiting, anxiety, depression, and asthma. It is also interesting to note that Marijuana is used in various cultures for their medicinal purposes. Israel scientists have recently found the skeleton of a fourth century woman who they believed died in childbirth. Ashes nearby were found to be the burned remains of the cannabis, or marijuana, plant. The scientists say this suggests that ancient Middle Eastern women used inhaled marijuana smoke to reduce labor pains (Yates, 2). “
Another study, that has just been completed this past year, is the use of Marijuana for the Multiple Sclerosis patient. According to Newsday, patients that used Marijuana reported some improvement in pain relief, rigidity and mobility. Doctors believe that there is now enough evidence to warrant licensing marijuana as a treatment for the illness. The Netherlands, where their drug laws are not so tight, became the first country to make cannabis available for as a prescription drug for patients with cancer, MS, HIV and AIDS. Patients with Multiple Sclerosis, AIDS, HIV, and cancer would also benefit from using marijuana in that smoking marijuana is believed to help reduce the wasting away of the body from these diseases by suppressing vomiting and stimulating the appetite. The British drug firm, GW Pharmaceutical Plc, has created a cannabis spray, which is sprayed under the tongue, for Multiple Sclerosis patients that could be put out in Britain sometime this year.
Aside from the medicinal uses of marijuana, a person’s right to choose and first amendment rights also comes into play when discussing the topic of legalizing marijuana. Many people feel that the illegality of marijuana is a blatant violation of human rights that are guaranteed to the citizens of the United States by the constitution. The question that almost always arises when discussing the issue of legalizing marijuana is, “Why are cigarettes and alcohol legal, but not marijuana?” Cigarettes have been found to cause cancer and many other major illnesses and have also been found to be more addictive that Heroin. Cigarettes are also advertised in magazines and are geared to the younger generation who deem them to be “cool.” Alcohol has also been shown to be dangerous as well. If overindulged in, alcohol can have several life threatening impacts on the body, including sclerosis of the liver, or liver malfunctioning, which would then require a liver transplant. Alcohol is also extremely dangerous among those who drive. Alcohol related deaths, including drunken driving accidents account for a tremendous number of deaths in the United States. On the other hand, “Marijuana is not a narcotic. Like alcohol, it is not sleep inducing unless taken in large quantities. Unlike tobacco or opiates, it is non addictive (McWilliams, 301).”
Another argument for legalizing marijuana is that by decriminalizing marijuana, we can free up police resources to deal with more serious crimes. According to NORML, as of right now, there are over 60,000 people in jail, for marijuana. This costs taxpayers about 1.2 billion dollars a year. Taxpayers annually spend between $7.5 billion and $10 billion arresting and prosecuting individuals for marijuana violations. Almost 90 percent of these arrests are for marijuana possession only. There is a serious problem with the overcrowding of jails, which could easily be solved, by letting many of these offenders go free. Many of these offenders have been caught with marijuana and have been hauled away to jail, whereas many violent offenders have walked away from their crimes. NORML also states that police arrest more Americans per year on marijuana charges than the total number of arrestees for all violent crimes combined, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. NORML writes that “convicted marijuana offenders are denied federal financial student aid, welfare and food stamps, and may be removed from public housing. Other non-drug violations do not carry such penalties. In many states, convicted marijuana offenders are automatically stripped of their driving privileges, even if the offense is not driving related.”
Another reason marijuana should be legal in the United States is that its prohibition causes far more harm than the use of marijuana in itself. NORML’s statistics show that “more than 76 million Americans have admittedly tried marijuana. The overwhelming majority of these users did not go on to become regular marijuana users, try other illicit drugs, or suffer any deleterious effects to their health.” An overwhelmingly large amount of people know who they can go to in order to get their marijuana, whether it is a well known drug dealer or the child that lives around the corner from you. If marijuana was legalized, much of organized crime would be put to an end in that, there would not be a need for a black market. People would not have to suffer physical harm or death because they did not pay their dealers back. The “war” on marijuana costs tax payers an exorbitant amount of money. IF the United States government would ease up on their strict laws and legalize marijuana, as was done in several countries, they would be able to turn its sale into revenue for the government. Many people feel that the United States government should legalize marijuana, but place restrictions on it, as they do with cigarettes and alcohol. The tax that comes from selling marijuana would add a great deal of money into our already lagging economy.
The many benefits of legalizing marijuana far outweigh the risks associated with legalization. If the United States could just open their eyes and see that by criminalizing marijuana, they are not only wasting tax money, but are also losing on gaining more money. The medicinal uses of marijuana speak for themselves. People who desperately need the drug for a better quality of life are not able to get marijuana and are therefore in pain, when it is not needed. The topic of marijuana reform is an old one, but will continue as long as there is no reform in sight.