Weed is a common name that is used to describe a drug that has been banned in many countries across the world. Other common names that are widely used include marijuana, Cannabis sativa, and ganja. Marijuana refers to the dried leaves of Cannabis sativa that are used as a psychoactive drug or medicine (Hasin et al. 1236). Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is an active compound in marijuana that causes a hallucinogenic feeling to the user of the drug (Hall & Megan 68). There has been a longstanding debate on whether marijuana should be legalized in the USA due to its psychoactive effects. Marijuana has been used to induce changes in the person's mood as well as give a feeling of relaxation. This psychoactive effect has made the drug be commonly referred to as "recreational drug" since a high number of users are interested in its effects (Wang et al. 258). However, the drug has its negative effects such as brain damage, loss of memory, hallucinations and withdrawal effect. Nevertheless, whether the drug is legalized or not, many Americans, especially the young people, will still use it. This paper delves into why marijuana should be legalized in the USA.
Medical Benefits of Marijuana
Studies have shown that the use of marijuana is helpful in reducing some symptoms of ongoing medical conditions. Further research has shown that the use of marijuana can be of great help to glaucoma, sclerosis and cancer patients (Salas-Wright & Michael 2). Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy reduce nausea and vomiting by taking marijuana.
Secondly, marijuana helps in the intake of insulin in the body. Research by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted in the US found out that there is a correlation between type II diabetes and marijuana (Salas-Wright & Michael 1). Insulin resistance is one of the predisposing factors of diabetes, and the researchers found out that THC may help in insulin intake by the body (Joffe, et al. 25). Further research by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found out that 16% of marijuana smokers lower insulin fasting while 17% of users lower insulin resistance levels (Salas-Wright & Michael 3). The intake is thus boosted by marijuana.
Also, the use of marijuana can help in reducing depression in human beings. A study by (Hall & Megan 71) found out that occasional or mild smoking of weed lowers depressive levels to the users as compared to those who have never used marijuana. If it is legalized in all states, people will be free to choose if that is the way they want to go in an attempt to deal with stress and stressful situations.
Why legalize the Use of Marijuana?
To begin with, the legalization of marijuana would be economically beneficial. Legalization will boost tax revenues as more resources are needed by the states to meet their needs. Analysts predict that marijuana could generate over $ 60 million in terms of revenue by the end of 2017(Hall & Megan 68). Further, they argue that the cost incurred by the states will be decreased as no funds will be used in the fighting against the drug. Legalization of marijuana will bring more money into the states. Going by the financial records from the legalization of medical marijuana in California, it can be argued that "pot" legalization can raise annual revenue from $14 billion to $18 billion (Hall & Megan 69). With the increase in income generated, the government can cut on its spending and obtain extra funds for important sectors like education, health, and security.
Another reason why marijuana should be legalized is that prohibition does not help. It makes the young people derive pleasure from defiance. In fact, the government should look for better ways to curb the problem such as education and treatment. Research has shown that the use of the drug has been on the rise despite the government measures to control its usage (Salas-Wright & Michael 2). In high schools, for example, many teens smoke marijuana as a way of protesting against its prohibition. By legalizing it, the number of those taking it for the sake rebellion is likely to go down. Research indicates that when students are forced and punished for using marijuana, they tend to become more rebellious in doing exactly what they are prohibited from doing. Legalization of marijuana would reduce recruitment of young adults in using the drug since it would be any other normal drug. Also, if the user of the drug is peaceful and honest, then there should be no reason why the government should prohibit the use of marijuana.
Moreover, the legalization of marijuana among the teens and the young adults would help in reducing crime levels and cut on amounts spent on prisoners in the jail. Previous research shows that 17% of prisoners in the US are incarcerated for drug crimes related to marijuana (Hasin et al. 69). Furthermore, the government spends over $ 68 billion on prisoners in jail where $ 11.5 billion could be saved a year. The prisoners who will be released after the legalization of the weed will go back and become productive again in the economy (Hall & Megan 68). Marijuana should, therefore, be legalized.
Also, the legalization of marijuana will allow people the freedom to make decisions. It is ironic that the USA prides itself as one of the biggest economies in the world but continues to prohibit the use of Cannabis Sativa. In this great nation, individuals should be given sovereign power to make decisions about their lives and not be forced to sacrifice their rights and freedoms as human beings (Thies et al. 102). Every person has a right to do what they deem right with their lives.
Another argument as to why marijuana should be legalized is to bring safety to the user. Everything that is taken under restriction may not meet the necessary hygiene needs for consumption. It is hoped that with the legalization of marijuana, all the necessary measures will be fulfilled to ensure that it is safe for the user. This will reduce the number of reported cases of marijuana smokers seeking medical attention (Hasin et al. 1239). Refined marijuana will be sold in the shops, and this will create jobs for the youth and the government will increase revenues collected from the sale of marijuana.
Most of the countries in North America, such as Jamaica, have legalized the use of marijuana. Indeed 18 states in the USA have legalized it (Salas-Wright & Michael 3). Going by this revelation, the US government should also allow young adults to freely use the drug. Marijuana should be legalized so as to end a decade-long debate of whether it should be legalized or not. By doing so, the government will have time to evaluate the measures under which usage of the drug can be monitored through legislation.
Why the use of marijuana should remain illegal
Despite the strong support for the legalization of marijuana in the USA, there are also a significant number of people who feel that the drug should not be legalized. First, the use of marijuana affects the brain. The short-term effects of marijuana on the brain result from the absorption of THC by the lungs into the bloodstream (Hall & Megan 67). The compound is then taken to the cell receptors in the brain where it reacts with the brain cells causing "high" feel to the users. THC in the brain causes various effects to the users such as difficulty in problem-solving, impaired memory, altered the sense of time, and loss of balance (Salas-Wright & Michael 3). The long-term effect of marijuana is on the development of the brain. As drug users advance in age, they lose neurons found in the hippocampus which lowers their ability to learn new ideas. Research conducted in the USA showed that when rats were exposed to THC for eight months, they lost 11-12% nerve cells (Hall & Megan 69). Brain damage has been one of the most harmful effects of using marijuana, especially where there is evidence of addiction. This is an adverse effect to young people not only in the US but also all over the world. It is for this reason that marijuana should not be legalized not only in the USA but globally so as to save the lives of the teens who are introduced to drugs through peer pressure.
In as much as marijuana has benefits, the THC component found in it affects the brain development of teenagers. This affects their thinking, learning functions and memory for a long time or even permanently. A research was done on marijuana users of age 13 and 38, showed that they lost an average of eight IQ units (Salas-Wright & Michael 2). This brings out the negative effect of marijuana. A good number of the teens who abuse the drug drop out of school because of effects such as hallucinations and addiction. Indeed, a research carried out among US high school students showed that a student who used marijuana was likely to drop out of school compared to the one who did not (Hall & Megan 66).
In conclusion, with the above supporting evidence, it is the time marijuana was legalized. This is because failure to legalize it only makes things worse. Although the use of marijuana has negative effects on the brain, it has some positive impact such as reducing rebellion and crime among young people. It is also used for medical purposes such as ameliorating depression, helping in insulin intake, and with glaucoma and cancer patients. Marijuana legalization is also likely to improve the economy as there will be revenue from its trade. Therefore, the use of marijuana should be legalized in all states in the US since whether it is legalized or not, it will continue to be used by young Americans. However, there should be caution in undertaking the legalization process to ensure that vulnerable groups do not make inappropriate choices. The drug should be used by persons who can make personal decisions.
Hall, W. and Megan, W. "Has marijuana legalization increased marijuana use among US youth?". JAMA Pediatrics (2016): 65 73. Web.
Hasin, Deborah, S., et al. "Prevalence of marijuana use disorders in the United States between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013." JAMA psychiatry 72.12 (2015): 1235-1242.
Joffe, A. and Samuel, Y. "Legalization of marijuana: potential impact on youth." Pediatrics 113.6 (2004): e632-e638.
Salas-Wright, P. and Michael, G. "Marijuana Use Among Young People In An Era Of Policy Change: What Does Recent Evidence Tell Us?". The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse (2016): 1-3. Web.
Thies, Clifford F., and Charles A. Register. "Decriminalization of marijuana and the demand for alcohol, marijuana and cocaine." The Social Science Journal 30.4 (1993): 385-399.
Wang, George S., et al. "Association of unintentional pediatric exposures with decriminalization of marijuana in the United States." Annals of emergency medicine 63.6 (2014): 684-689.
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