Legalization of Cannabis
Over 4,000 years ago, it was discovered in ancient China, that by ingesting a certain plant, one could temporarily relieve pain, and experience a mild state of euphoria. Since then, this plant, and its known effects, has spread to all corners of civilization. In the 16th century, cannabis was brought to North America by European colonists. It was a common substance, used by doctors for pain relief and appetite inducement, and by citizens as a recreational substance. This continued until the early 19th century, when the Marijuana Tax Act was set into law. The Federal Government had concluded studies which led them to believe that the production and use of marijuana were detrimental to American culture and morality. This eventually evolved to mandatory fines and jail time, in the 1950’s. Less than 20 years later, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 deemed marijuana a Schedule 1 substance; which classifies it as having a high potential for addiction, and no current accepted medical use. Recently, however, there seems to be a growing push for the reclassification of the drug, to at least allow for medical use of the substance; and some even advocate for complete legalization as a recreational substance. Naturally, this has sparked a counter-movement from people with conservative views of the substance. In this paper, I will discuss the resolution: Marijuana should be legalized for recreational and medical purposes in the United States. I will focus on explaining the main arguments of both factions; and through argumentation, prove whether or not each side has established their argument, based on their claims and how they frame their argument. The affirmative side believes that full legalization is pressing and necessary. Advocate’s claims for legalization are: economic benefit, health benefit, personal autonomy, and overall positive impact on society. It is believed that by legalizing and taxing the drug, the federal government could make an estimated $8.7 billion annually, in tax revenue; while at the same time, save about another $8.7 billion a year, by not wasting money trying to regulate illicit marijuana use- for a total increase to the budget, of ~$17 billion a year. Some of this money could go towards treating abuse. These numbers are provided by DrugWarFacts.org. As for health benefits, contentions are that cannabis has been known as an effective pain reliever for thousands of years; and the drug has also been known to help spark appetite. More recently, it has been found to treat several conditions, including: nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, muscle tension and spasm, pain relief, and insomnia (5 Common Uses of Medical Cannabis). It has also been proven to relieve anxiety and multiple symptoms associated with fibromyalgia- a chronic disease (Health.com). I also know this to be true, first hand. My mother suffers from fibromyalgia; and marijuana seems to have been one of the most helpful treatments so far. Another health benefit of cannabis is the treatment of cancer patients undergoing chemo-therapy. Additionally, a pulmonologist at UCLA, who has studied marijuana for 30 years, stated that "marijuana also contains the chemical THC which...may kill aging cells and keep them from becoming cancerous."(Study Finds No Cancer-Marijuana Connection) Personal Autonomy is defined as: A. Self-government or the right of self-government; self-determination. B. Self-government with respect to local or internal affairs. In the context of this issue, it infers that the power to decide whether or not use of the drug, should be left to each person, versus the federal government. This is the view held by the affirmative side. Advocates for legalization claim that the “war on drugs” has ultimately been a failure. Statistically, half of that war is on marijuana. People argue that the criminalization of users is unnecessary, and counterproductive to individuals and to...
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