Farhan Afzal Cheema
Rabia Nafees Shah
SS 100 Writing and Communication
4 January 2012
Should Marijuana be legalized in the United States of America?
Marijuana “is a greenish-gray mixture of the dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of Cannabis sativa- the hemp plant” (NIDA “What is Marijuana?”). It is the most widely used illegal drug in America according to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health and was the only drug used by more than half of all drug users (NIDA “What is Marijuana?”). Marijuana is most commonly smoked in the form of hand rolled cigarettes called joints and otherwise through pipes and cigars although a small amount of users use it to brew tea and add it to food (NIDA “What is Marijuana?”). Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main ingredient in marijuana and is responsible for its effects. When marijuana is smoked the effects of THC begin almost immediately and it passes through the lungs to the bloodstream and then to the organs in the body (NIDA “What is Marijuana?”). In recent years marijuana has become a more accepted part of American culture and there is generally more open-mindedness towards marijuana. Recently a survey conducted among voters in Massachusetts showed that 58% of those surveyed were of the opinion that Marijuana should be legalized for recreational use for adults (Lyons). Although it is feared that it may be addictive, marijuana should be legalized in America because it will lead to economic benefits, homogeneity in the treatment of similar drugs, advantages for law enforcement relating to drug control, control over the drug and its users, an increase in the exercise of free will and an increase in the medical use of marijuana.
It is feared that marijuana may be addictive. There is a large amount of evidence that suggests that people who use marijuana have a high tendency to get addicted to it. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA, states that 9% of the people who use marijuana will become addicted to it and that according to the 2008 survey conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, NSDUH “marijuana accounted for 4.2 million of the estimated 7 million Americans dependant on or abusing illicit drugs”(“Is there a link?”). Thus it appears that marijuana seems to be a very addictive drug. Fears arise that if a drug is addictive then the producer will have a large amount of control over the consumer and this may impediment the free will of the consumer. NIDA states that marijuana withdrawal is similar to nicotine withdrawal and “people trying to quit report irritability, sleeping difficulties, craving, and anxiety”(Is there a link?”). However one thing that must be remembered is that the major form in which marijuana is consumed is in the form of cigarettes where it is smoked alongside tobacco. This shows that it may not be the marijuana that is addictive but it indeed may the nicotine with which it is consumed that is addictive and the nature of the withdrawal symptoms may actually be a testimony to this.
There are also fears that marijuana may be a gateway drug and may lead to harder and more dangerous drugs. There are concerns that marijuana use may be linked to an increased probability of use of cocaine in particular, which is a hard and dangerous drug. “The use of cocaine is associated with problems such as crime, child poverty, poor neonatal health, and the spread of HIV”. Research done by Dr Jeffrey DeSimone, an assistant professor of economics at The University of Texas at Arlington, suggests that “past marijuana use increases the probability of current cocaine use by twenty-nine percentage points”. However DeSimone himself admits that there is uncertainty about the amount and length of marijuana consumption that may lead to cocaine consumption. He also assumes that if cocaine consumption starts at a relatively early age Cheema 3
then there is a strong interest in cocaine and...