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Decriminalization Of Marijuana Essay, Research Paper

Marijuana is a drug obtained from dried and crumpled parts of the universal hemp plant Cannabis sativa (or Cannabis indicia). It is smoked by rolling in tobacco paper, or by placing it in a pipe. It is also otherwise consumed worldwide by an estimated 200,000,000 persons for pleasure, an escape from reality, or relaxation. Marijuana is known by a variety of names such as kif (Morocco), dagga (South Africa), and bhang (India). Common in the United States, marijuana is called pot, grass, weed, Mary Jane, bones, etc. The main active principle of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol. The question of marijuana being legalized has been a very controversial issue for a long time. It?s been controversial because of the bad track record it has sustained over the years. Marijuana is considered to be a schedule one drug. That means that it has a high potential for abuse and lacks an acceptance for legal medical use, as it is clearly stated under the controlled substance act. However there?re many pros and cons to whether it should be legalized or not.

One advantage of Marijuana is that it ?can relieve pain where other drugs or techniques have failed, opening the door to all of the healing benefits and increased life options of pain relief. Cannabis also has direct beneficial physiological impacts on certain diseases such as glaucoma, migraine, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy.?(Dr. Potter, Beverly (1998) The healing magic of cannabis. Berkeley, CA: Ronin Publishing INC.)

Marijuana is also known to help victims of various other diseases in various different ways. Pro marijuana legalization groups such as the Physician?s Association for AIDS care & National Lymphoma Foundation believe that marijuana should be legalized in order to treat terminally ill patients. Among them are AIDS victims, who find that marijuana stimulates their appetites so that they can fight off dangerous emaciation.

Marijuana has also been proven to be less harmful than other legal drugs. Legalizing it might decrease violence and crime, boost our economy, and allow its use as an effective form of medicine for the treatment of many fatal illnesses. ?Every year, 400,000 Americans die of complications caused by tobacco products.?(S. Michels, letter, September 4th,1999) Smoking kills more Americans each year than alcohol, crack, heroin, murder, suicide, car accidents, fires, and AIDS all put together. Alcohol abuse contributes to almost 50% of all traffic accidents, suicides, and homicides. Drinking also is known to cause liver damage and liver cancer, which is in many cases fatal. The bottom line is that tobacco and alcohol are very high-risk drugs, much higher than marijuana. However, despite the proven dangers of these ?socially acceptable? drugs, they are still legal. Research has yet to pin any specific dangers to marijuana and it still remains illegal while the dangerous drugs with proven effects remain legal. Alcohol prohibition tore America apart once and now it is the war on drugs, particularly marijuana. Harsh laws and the threat of lengthy jail sentences still do not stop the distribution and drug use of marijuana. All they do is drive the price of the product up and give dealers a reason to sell, making it an impossible war to win.

However there are also negative effects that the legalization of marijuana might have. ?Nobody disputes that marijuana is mind-altering. But is it a harmless herb or a step down the slippery slope of drug addiction? Two reports, both published in Science in June, throw a sinister light on the funny cigarettes. In the studies of rats, researchers turned up evidence that marijuana produces the same biochemical changes in the brain as heroin, cocaine??(Richardson, S. (1998), Better not inhale. New York)

In addition Dennis James, Clinical Director of Assessment and General Treatment at the CAMH, has also observed ?adverse effects of marijuana use in some clients such as impairment in memory, impairment in problem-solving, motivation and focus, as well as moodiness?. All these factors might not sound very fatal, however they do disrupt one?s ability to function in total control of mind and body.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active drug in marijuana used to help relieve nausea in cancer patients. This THC has been proven to lower testosterone in the blood stream for men. (Angier 15) This is not a major concern to full-grown men because the level of testosterone quickly rises back after the smoker is done smoking. However, it may be harmful to adolescent boys. “In adolescence, a boy’s body is going through many changes–it grows taller, it gets hairier, the voice deepens–and these changes are controlled by testosterone. Marijuana could very well block the normal growth process.” says Carol Smith, of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethsheda Maryland. Columbia University did a study on 16 men who smoked five to fifteen joints a day. After they finished smoking their sperm counts were counted. It was discovered that all of the men experienced a dip in sperm count for weeks after and had malformed sperm cells. This could cause some serious malformations in conceived children.

Studies were done on female rhesus monkeys, which have very similar body chemistry to human women. The monkeys were injected with doses of THC. The menstrual cycles of the monkeys were greatly disrupted and some stopped ovulating altogether. Says Smith, “Nothing we have ever tested including oral contraceptives, has as radical an effect on the menstrual cycle as marijuana does.” The hormones in men and women are definitely thrown off by marijuana use. (Angier 15).

All this makes one question if the idea of legalizing marijuana is that great. There are many positive and negative effects that these actions might have, and it will probably take years until this debate will reach its solution. There?s simply not enough evidence to prove whether marijuana can be used medically, or not at this point of time.


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