Whether it’s to be called a psychoactive, dangerous drug or a medically effective pain reliever and anti-nausea miracle drug, marijuana is still considered an illegal drug throughout most of the world.
Most drugs can be classified as depressants, stimulants, or hallucinogens, but cannabis seems to be a mixture of all those properties, and in particular the hallucinogenic nature of it.
State and local governments began regulating the sale of marijuana in the late 1800s. Many of the states restricted the drug further in 1906 by labeling it as a poison. Most states prohibited marijuana altogether in the 1920s, around the same time as a federal prohibition on alcohol was written into the constitution. Prohibition was repealed in the 1930s; marijuana has continued to be prohibited throughout the United States ever since.
Some states are now passing laws to allow the use of marijuana for medical reasons, however, for which proponents say the drug has many powerful benefits. There are merits and drawbacks to consider on either side of the argument.
The Argument for the Legalization of Marijuana
Proponents of marijuana legalization often stick to the fight for medical marijuana (smoked through glass pipes), rather than fighting for blanket legalization for all users. Others say it should be controlled and taxed like cigarettes and alcohol, so anyone over a certain age would be able to purchase it legally. Here are a few of the arguments for marijuana legalization:
• Criminalization limits personal freedom
• Drug dealers lose business with legalization
• Fewer young adults turned into criminals
• Free up courts and police resources for “more important” issues
• Industrial uses for Cannabis, such as clothing
• Arguably less harmful than alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs (in moderation)
• Medicinal benefits, particularly for AIDS and cancer patients
• Reduction in violent crime related to drug disputes
• Tax revenues on sale of marijuana
The Argument Against the Legalization of Marijuana
The opponents of marijuana legalization also have numerous arguments to defend their stance, including the following:
• Marijuana arrests remove criminals from the streets who would be likely to commit more serious crimes in the future
• It’s slippery slope; harder drugs such as cocaine and narcotics may be legalized once marijuana is legal
• Marijuana can act as a stepping stone to harder drugs, such as crack and heroin
• More young children would have access to marijuana if it was sold in stores
• More people would do long-term damage to their bodies from overuse of the drug if it were legalized
• People driving under the influence can cause accidents, similar to drunk driving
• Secondhand smoke would increase
• There are moral oppositions to using marijuana
Having been in use since the nineteen twenties in this country, and its use kept secret for the most part, the overall long term effects are not clear. There is significant proof that over the short term marijuana is a dangerous mind altering drug that needs to be kept illegal except for dire medical use only. Marijuana is considered to be a “gateway” drug, meaning it leads to use of other drugs perhaps more harmful, and is usually the first illegal drug of choice for teenagers.
There’s no denying marijuana has harmful side effects, which is why it was criminalized in the first place. The question remains: Is that enough to make it illegal?