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Anti-legalization Of Marijuana Essay, Research Paper
I am honored to be writing to you on such a significant topic of national concern. Average citizens are annoyed and just plain fatigued with the drugs and crime problems in America. These upright citizens, that contribute to the growth of American society, are being told that legalization is a reasonable alternative to dealing with these problems in their communities. Legalization of any drug is not a positive way to fight crime. In fact, there is no legitimate reason to legalize drugs. The Legalization of marijuana is the starting point of the pro-legalization of drugs movement. The issue of legalizing marijuana is truly a controversial one, and certainly one that requires a plethora of considerations at the top levels of the legislative branch.
When considering the possibility of legalizing marijuana as a recreational drug, there are a number of concerns that come to mind. Is marijuana physically harmful to the user? Is marijuana an addictive drug? Does the use of marijuana lead to dependency situations? Does it act as “gateway” to more hazardous drugs? Does the notion of legalizing marijuana send an immoral, wrong message to the youth of America? Mr. Congressman, the answer to all these questions is YES.
According to the DEA (1998), the supreme ruler of drug knowledge in America, there are over 10,000 scientific studies that prove marijuana is a harmful and addictive drug. Yet there is no reliable study that proves marijuana has any medical value. Marijuana is an unstable mixture of over 425 chemicals, which when smoked are converted to over thousands. Most of these are toxic, psychoactive chemicals which are unstudied and appear in uncontrolled strengths. Marijuana leads to many different consequences depending on the personality and general characteristics of the individual using the drug. These may include, but are not limited to: premature cancer, addiction, coordination and perception impairment, mental disorders, hostility and increased aggressiveness, general unconcern of life, memory loss, reproductive disabilities, and impairment to the immune system. Marijuana is currently up to 25 times more potent than it was in the 1960’s, which makes the drug even more addictive. In 1994, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that marijuana should remain a Schedule I drug: highly addictive with no medical usefulness.
Marijuana is a harmful substance. The use of marijuana for the purposes of intoxication leads to a number of serious health risks. Research has proven that marijuana damages short term memory, distorts perceptions, impairs complex motor skills, alters the heart rate, can lead to severe anxiety, and can cause paranoia and lethargy. A condition called Amotivational syndrome take places after chronic use. It is defined by Dr. Harry Avis (1996), professor of psychology as, “a condition characterized by a lack of ambition or desire to succeed, presumed to be the result of smoking marijuana.” As reported in The Medical Journal of Australia, “Marijuana causes birth defects, fetal damage, lung cancer, long-term impairment of memory, schizophrenia, suppression of the immune system, and even leukemia in the children of marijuana-smoking mothers” (Nahas & Latour, 1992). The National Institute on Drug Abuse (1996) reported that the chemicals found in marijuana smoke suppresses the neurons in the information-processing system of the hippocampus. This is the part of the brain that is crucial for learning, memory, and the integration of sensory experiences with emotions and motivation. Marijuana, should it be legalized, would ruin many Americans’ abilities to learn, and would abruptly decay the development and progress of the American Society.
Marijuana is dangerous, and it is more dangerous than it ever has been. The federal Drug Abuse Warning Network, or DAWN, claims that recent statistics show increases in the number of patients mentioning marijuana in hospital emergency rooms (”The Marijuana Debate Goes On”, 1998). Inexperienced users may suffer acute anxiety the first time they use it. This could be a direct result of the increase in potency of marijuana. Growers have access to the latest agricultural technologies and scientific methods which enable them to grow more powerful marijuana. “Growers have become extremely sophisticated about developing varieties of marijuana with high concentrations of THC” (”Is Marijuana Dangerous? Is It Addictive?”, 1995). THC, or Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is one of the 400 chemicals in marijuana. It accounts for most of marijuana’s psychoactive, or mind-altering, effects (”Facts About Marijuana and Marijuana Abuse”, 1996). The levels of THC found in the modern drug markets’ marijuana are much higher than they have ever been. The concentration of THC will keep increasing in the future. This directly leads to more and stronger addictions to marijuana.
One argument that the pro-legalization movement pleads is that there are thousands of legal medical drugs on the market that have possible side effects that can be dangerous to the user. One effect can be dependency and addiction to prescription drugs. Now, sure there are perception drugs on the market that are potentially dangerous to the person taking the drugs, but their effects are nothing compared to that of marijuana. Such a comparison can be made with a knife and a gun. Both are potentially lethal and dangerous. Just being careless with a knife can result in death or injury, but with the gun, all one has to be is stupid enough to mess with it. Also, recreational marijuana users are not taking marijuana under a doctor’s supervision, or taking a prescribed dosage from a pharmacist. This argument is by no means grounds for possible consideration of legalizing marijuana.
The addictive ability of marijuana has been studied and discussed for some time now. Many studies have transpired to verify these addictive effects. It is said that marijuana is not physically addictive but is psychologically addictive. None the less, there are obvious signs that marijuana users become addicted in some manner. “Nationwide about 100,000 people a year seek treatment to get off marijuana,” according to Alan I. Leshner, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (”Is Marijuana Dangerous? Is It Addictive,” 1995). Dr. David Smith, founder of Haight-Ashbury Free Clinics in San Francisco, says that, “the clinics there treat about 100 youths a month who seek help with marijuana dependency” (”Is Marijuana Dangerous? Is It Addictive,” 1995). Most people probably aren’t aware, but an organization called Marijuana Anonymous actually exists. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using marijuana. Such an organization would not exist if addiction and dependency were not associated with marijuana use.
The physically harmful and addictive effects of marijuana should be grounds enough to stop the legalization campaigns. We need to stay focused though, on a much more critical problem our nation faces with this pro-drug crusade. That is protecting the American children from throwing their lives away on drugs. If marijuana were legalized with restrictions, similar to the age restrictions on tobacco and alcohol, the use of marijuana by children under such an age would increase. If it’s legal, children would get the notion that it isn’t harmful. The physical effects of marijuana mentioned previously are much more dangerous to the youths of America, who’s minds and bodies have not even finished developing. The Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Statement on Marijuana for Medical Purposes (1997) says, “marijuana use among kids has increased 78 percent in the last four years alone”. With drug use by young people increasing, we must not send a mixed message to our youth about the dangers of marijuana. The recent proposals for legalization and the medical usage laws are sending messages to the American children that it is “ok” to smoke pot. And it simply is not. Our nations goals must be to reduce, not promote the use of illicit drugs by our children.
Marijuana is the first step that children take into the dark world of drug abuse. It acts as a gateway to more serious problems. The idea is that cocaine and heroin users don’t just start out with cocaine and heroin. They start with drugs like marijuana that are easier to get, to try, and are less legally offensive. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (1998), “teens 12-17 who use marijuana are 85 times more likely to use cocaine than non-marijuana users”. The CASA president, Joseph A. Califano, says, “that the gateway effect means that recent increases in marijuana use among teens will translate into 820,000 more children who will try cocaine in their lifetime, of whom 58,000 will become (narcotics) addicts”(”The Marijuana Debate Goes on,” 1998). The number of children that will use cocaine will increase should marijuana be legalized. No-one debates the issue of legalizing cocaine. And no one should. Cocaine, heroin, crack, and every other illicit drug out there should all remain illegal too. There is no debate about the dangers of these drugs. When local drug dealers know that your younger brother, sister, or child has tried smoking pot they see a new customer for some of their more dangerous drugs. “If marijuana is a gateway to hard drugs, it is likely due to its illicit status that the purveyors of pot can put your adolescent in touch with the local crack connection” (Clark, 1997). These drugs can kill the first time that they are used. There is no dispute about the dangers of addiction and withdrawal that accompany the use of such drugs. Do you want these dealers hassling the children of America? Legalizing marijuana would set us on a slippery slope toward accepting any and all drugs.
Many pro-legalization organizations try to compare prohibition of alcohol to the illegal status of marijuana. They try to make claims that marijuana isn’t as dangerous as alcohol and should then be legal as well. This argument could be debated for years, supported by scientists with physical studies backing up both sides of the issue. Alcohol is definitely a dangerous and addictive drug. It leads to thousands of deaths a year, be it drunk driving or other crimes executed while intoxicated. It truthfully doesn’t matter which drug would eventually be deemed the most dangerous. The fact of the matter is that this pro-legalization argument is not a valid reason to legalize marijuana. The alcohol situation that transpired during the early part of this century was totally different from the current situation with marijuana. Prohibition of alcohol was repealed after just 13 years while prohibition against marijuana has lasted for more than seventy five years. Alcohol prohibition struck directly at tens of millions of Americans of all ages, including many of societies most powerful members. Marijuana prohibition threatens far fewer Americans. Most of which are young and relatively subordinate Americans. Alcohol prohibition was repealed and marijuana prohibition was retained, not because scientists had proved that alcohol was the less dangerous of the various psychoactive drugs, but because of the prejudices and preferences of the majority of Americans.
Marijuana has no place in American society. The cost to society of the two legal drugs, alcohol and tobacco, has been and still is enormous. As De Leon (1994) puts it, we certainly don’t need to add any more problems by increasing the availability of marijuana. “Even if it is relatively ineffective, we have developed social control over the use of legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco. Among most drinkers, solitary drinking, drinking and driving, and being intoxicated are socially sanctioned, while drinking moderately with family and friends and taking precautions about driving are encouraged. No such controls prevail over marijuana or any other drugs.” (Avis, 1996).
Marijuana should remain illegal because of the enormous number of side effects and the addictions that result from use. The illegality of drugs helps to discourage at least some people from trying them. Making marijuana widely available would undoubtedly increase at least experimental use, and given the stronger potency of modern marijuana, most users would go on to develop abuse-related problems (MacCaoun, 1992). Marijuana is still a drug! That fact can not be changed no matter how many people vote on it. Drugs lead to Crime. And Crime breaks down society. Average citizens, fed up with crime and drugs, are being told that legalization is a reasonable alternative. As Thomas A. Constantine, administrator for the DEA, puts it (”Speaking Out”, 1999), legalization is not an alternative, but rather a surrender which will reduce our quality of life. Health and social costs associated with the increased availability of marijuana would break our economy. Crime would not decrease. The moral fiber of our country would be ripped apart.
Avis, Harry. (1996). Drugs & Life. Chicago: Brown & Benchmark. 137-156, 245-265.
Clark, Thomas W. (1997, May/June). “Keep Marijuana Illegal.” Humanist, 57, p. 14.
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U.S. Department of Justice: Drug Enforcement Administration. DEA publication: Speaking Out Against Drug Legalization [Publication posted on the World Wide Web]. Washington, DC. Retrieved April 28, 1999 from the World Wide Web: http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/legaliz/contents.htm