Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana
The Harmful Effects of Legalizing Marijuana
The legality of marijuana has been the subject of debate and controversy for decades. Cannabis, another name for marijuana, is illegal to consume, use, possess, cultivate, transfer or trade in most countries. Marijuana is the most commonly abused illegal drug in the United States. It is a greenish brown mixture of dried leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers from the hemp plant. It has been used most commonly as a medicine, a food, a fiber and an intoxicant for thousands of years (“Why People,” 2010). Marijuana intoxication can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory. Evidence shows marijuana has no medical benefits, can lead to addiction, and is just as harmful as alcohol or tobacco. Marijuana contains a strong chemical called THC (tetrahydro-cannabinol). THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. This chemical can make people feel relaxed and can distract them from problems. The relaxed feeling, also known as a high, lasts only a few hours, but the drug remains in the body for days and can affect users even when they do not feel high. In addition to being the most commonly used illegal drug, marijuana is also the most controversial. While some people believe marijuana is a relatively harmless drug that should be legal for recreational and medical use, others argue that marijuana is a dangerous drug and should remain illegal. The federal government “classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, believing it to be dangerous and addictive with no medical value” (“Background to Controversy,” 2007, p. 11). According to the federal government Schedule I drugs have the highest potential for abuse with no medical use. Therefore,...