Legalizing Marijuana in America

Illegal drug use is a huge part of American culture and one the most controversial of those drugs is marijuana; its technical name is Cannabis Sativa. But whether you call it cannabis, marijuana, pot, reefer, weed, bud, herb, Mary Jane, hemp, grass or wacky tabacci, it is still illegal in the United States. Actually, all over the world the deliberation rages about the harm or benefits that marijuana has to offer. Attempts to legalize it in the United States have been going on since the Marijuana Tax Act was introduced in 1937 and have thus far largely failed.

The debate whether or not to legalize marijuana seems to circle around numerous points, including the recreational use verses being a gateway to other more addicting drugs, whether marijuana is valid for medical therapeutic uses and how marijuana affects the US economy. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, marijuana is the most used illegal drug in the world [NHTSA. gov], n. d. ). In the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health there were 14. 4 million people aged twelve or older who at that time used marijuana for recreation (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], 2008, table 2.

1). For most recreational users, marijuana provides a sense of euphoria and relaxation and they believe it causes no long-term impairment. They believe that the use of marijuana is no worse for them than smoking cigarettes or consuming alcohol, in fact they judge the long-term affects of cigarettes and alcohol are much worse. A governmental report issued by the Netherlands, where marijuana (but not other drugs) can be legally purchased in small amounts, states that “there is no physically determined tendency toward switching from [marijuana] to harder substances. Social factors, however, do play a role.

The more users become integrated in an environment (‘subculture’) where, apart from cannabis, hard drugs can also be obtained, the greater the chance that they may switch to hard drugs. Separation of the drug markets is therefore essential. ” (Hurley, 2000, ¶ 2). Others view it as a first step to more addicting and harmful drugs such as cocaine and heroin. The National Center on Addition and Substance Abuse shows that teens who drank, smoked cigarettes, and used marijuana at least once in the past month are more than 16 times as likely to use another drug like cocaine, heroin or LSD (Califano, Jr, 2002, ¶ 9).

However, as you can see, that does not attach the blame solely on marijuana but includes alcohol and cigarettes as a gateway mechanism. The dispute easily moves from there to the discussion that cigarettes and alcohol have been proven to be detrimental to health of mankind, but is marijuana? There are many people believe that marijuana has great medical value for countless things. Many people with HIV use marijuana as a appetite stimulant this helps them to prevent problems like AIDS wasting, which is an involuntary loss of more than tem percent of the body weight by diarrhea, fever or weakness (, n. d. ).

For cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy, marijuana is a way to alleviate nausea and pain. Recent studies at Harvard University have also shown that the active ingredient in marijuana can cut a lung cancer tumor growth in half and can reduce the spread of the lung cancer significantly (ScienceDaily , 2007, ¶ 1). Since lung cancer is one of the fastest spreading cancers out there that could mean giving a chance of survival to patients with the disease. However the federal governments position on medical marijuana is a big fat no way.

The government has classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug, which mean it has a high potential for abuse and has absolutely no medical value (The Drug Policy Alliance Network [DPA Network], n. d. , ¶ 3). They have studies that show that marijuana is addicting, that it may cause impaired judgment and short-term and long-term memory issues. The question is who is right and do the negatives in the drug outweigh the potential benefits to the health of the people it could help, not to mention the money that could be saved by the government if they did not have to fight the war on marijuana.

The government set aside thirteen point seven billion dollars for the 2008 war on drugs and the Office of National Drug Control Policy estimates that Americans will spend ten point five billion for marijuana this year (Dubbin, 2008). That is twenty four point two billion dollars that could have been used by the government for other things. According to Harvard Economic professor Jeffrey A. Miron, “legalizing marijuana would save seven point seven billion a year in government expenditures and add six point two billion in revenue if the wacky tabacci were taxed like regular tobacco. ”

References (n. d. ). Why do people with HIV use marijuana?. Retrieved February 15, 2009, from http://www. aids. org Califano, J. A. , Jr (2002). Marijuana Is a Gateway Drug. Greenhaven Press. Retrieved from Dubbin, J. (2008). The War on Marijuana. Retrieved February 15, 2009, from http://ohmygov. com/ Hurley, J. A. (2000). What Factors Contribute to Addiction?. Greenhaven Press. Retrieved from http://find. galegroup. com. ezproxy. apollolibrary. com National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (n. d. ). Cannabis/Marijuana (Tetrahydrocannabinol, THC).

Retrieved February 03, 2009, from http://www. nhtsa. htm ScienceDaily (2007, April 17). Marijuana Cuts Lung Cancer Tumor Growth In Half, Study Shows (American Association for Cancer Research ).

Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2008). Results from the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings. Retrieved February 09, 2009, from http://oas. samhsa. gov/NSDUH/2k7NSDUH/2k7results. cfm#Ch2 The Drug Policy Alliance Network (n. d. ). Medical Marijuana. Retrieved February 15, 2009, from http://www. drugpolicy. org/marijuana/medical.

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