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Keep It Illegal

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Keep it Illegal
Weed, grass, ganja, cannabis, are some of the most common slang terms used to describe marijuana. Marijuana is the most common and used drug throughout the world and is believed to do more harm than good. The physical and mental trauma you put your body through when smoking marijuana, effects not just the brain, but can affect your entire body. Marijuana was used in a religious environment throughout Africa, Asia and Europe, or also known as the Old World. Some religious groups did not necessarily smoke cannabis, but they used cannabis for other purposes such as, baptisms, anointing oils, and other religious needs. Although there are some religious cultures that used cannabis as a tool for spiritual exploration (Grinspoon 120). The legalization of marijuana in the United States would create a negative impact on society as a whole, as well as, the quality of life of our citizens. The society we live in today would change tragically in a turn for the worst. The quality of people would degrade and humanity as we know it would change for the worse. The chemicals within marijuana are not deadly, but can cause serious health issues, both long-term and short-term problems.
Marijuana is illegal substance (drug) that is most commonly used in the US, and can be detected by drug testing (National Institute on Drug Abuse 1). Marijuana is a substance that contains chemicals, if smoked, alters your state of mind and people become “high”. The ingredient within marijuana that causes people to become “high” is THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana (National Institute on Drug Abuse 1). There are many forms to smoke marijuana and one of the most common one is hand-rolled cigarettes or could also be called joints. Other forms that marijuana is smoked are through use of a pipe or water pipe, which is called a bong. In some cases, marijuana has been used in the cooking process by cooking marijuana with butter then using that to bake brownies or other sorts of foods. When we think about the history of marijuana, one is usually stumped and could not tell anyone when and how cannabis arrived on today’s earth. When we look at the history of marijuana, we see that it first came about around 2737 B.C. and was described as a “Chinese medical compendium”. After birth in China, it is believed that it traveled to India, then to North Africa and then arrived in Europe as early as A.D 500 (Zimmer 49).
Throughout the process of life, we are told how we should live and what not to do at a young age. When children are in middle school, they are introduced into a program called D.A.R.E. (Drug Awareness Resistance Awareness) which tries to prevent children from the use of drugs. When we look at the stats from 2001, we can see by grade 10, “forty percent of students had tried marijuana, and twenty percent were current users” (Drug Abuse 1). Many of these children are educated about the consequences- health and legally- in middle school but still 40 percent of these children end up trying marijuana by grade 10. Obviously the statistics show that marijuana is commonly tried by almost half of today’s society, so then why is it still illegal people may ask. Even though we are taught the negative consequences of marijuana, children are peer pressured by other students to, “just try it” and if you do not, you are not socially accepted by other students.
A lot of people consider marijuana to be a “good” drug and believe that the there are little to no side effects if smoked. Also, many people believe trying marijuana at some point of adolescence is an acceptable norm of growing up. Teenagers do not know of the serious risks that they are taking with their bodies when intoxicating themselves with those chemicals. Marijuana affects the human body in several different aspects and causes people to become enlightened and intrigued with their surroundings. One side effect that can be directly associated with marijuana use is laziness. When smoking marijuana, one becomes extremely relaxed and can lose track of time which leads them to become lazy. Van Petten’s states that marijuana is associated with people that is frowned upon by society, “Marijuana is often thought of as a drug for hippies and losers. Many outspoken stoners also push the non-traditional lifestyle” (1). If a college student were to smoke marijuana on a regular basis, then that student could possibly forget about assignments that are due and this will affect their education and life just from smoking a plant. Why would a person want to lose everything they worked for just to smoke a little pot and get a quick “high”? In general, marijuana will make one become less aware of important aspects in their daily lives and cause one to lose jobs, friends and even family. Although laziness is not a serious health risk, it is a serious aliment to one’s goals in life and can cause speed bumps in achieving those goals. This is one key reason why marijuana should never become legalized because of the possible negative outcomes to one’s quality of life.
Also, a major reason why the legalization would decrease the quality of life in the US is because marijuana affects a person’s short-term and long-term health due to the chemicals it contains. People, who are regular marijuana users, tend to have a poor short-term memory which means they will have trouble performing simple tasks like homework or intricate tasks like driving a car (Van Petten 1). Another short-term effect of marijuana is anxiety and paranoia. In some cases, new users to marijuana often become paranoid or scared because they are not used to the state of mind that marijuana puts one in. Some people become scared if they are in an unfamiliar environment or even just the thought of getting caught by either authorities or their parents, “A user who has taken a very high dose of marijuana can have severe psychotic symptoms and need emergency help” (Van Petten 1). If these short-term symptoms do not influence people enough to keep marijuana illegal, then looking at the long-term effects can help back it up. Long-term effects include, “that the regular use of marijuana or THC may play a role in cancer and problems with respiratory, immune system, and reproductive systems” (McCaffrey 120). Why would one ever possibly want to increase the risk of obtaining one of these internal health problems? One might say “well why is tobacco legal?” and to answer that, I would personally say that tobacco should be illegal as well. Marijuana also has characteristics of tobacco as well, “Marijuana smoke contains some of the same cancer-causing compounds as tobacco, sometimes in higher concentrations” (Van Petten 2). The chemicals are not defined but marijuana smoke has been found to contain more “cancer-causing agents” than is found in tobacco smoke (Van Petten 2). If marijuana contains some of the same chemicals as tobacco, then we must keep it illegal because if 40 percent of teenagers tried marijuana by grade 10, then our death rate can increase exponentially. These short-term and long-term effects can cause our communities and people within them to become very poverty ridden. This is true because people would spend their income on drugs instead of their bills and other important aspects of one’s personal life. The world already has alcohol and tobacco legal, and if the US were to legalize marijuana, they would be literally aiding our citizens to their grave. Marijuana is said to be a gateway drug that leads one into harder drugs. A gateway drug means that many first time drug users usually start with trying marijuana then after awhile, they experiment and try drugs that intensify ones “high”. Marijuana has zero cases of death. But, marijuana can be linked to many over doses of harder drugs, such as, cocaine, LSD, acid, heroin. This can be linked to those drugs because many, to all drug users, have most likely started doing drugs by smoking marijuana. Richard Saitz conducted a survey to prove that marijuana is a gateway drug, “researchers surveyed 311 Australian monozygotic or dizygotic same-sex twins who were discordant for early marijuana use. Most twins who reported use of other illicit drugs had used marijuana first” (1). Drug use is highly illegal for a reason and marijuana, although does not affect the human body as much as hardcore drugs, should still be illegal due to the influence it brings to drug users to experiment with new and harder drugs.
Marijuana is a drug that can become socially addictive. If teens (or any adults) influence their friends to smoke marijuana, they can get into the habit of hanging out and getting “high” together on a regular basis. If marijuana was legalized, society would be a totally different world. Many people that smoke marijuana, tend to become very unsocial within society, and often hang out with other people who enjoy smoking marijuana. An example of this is said within James Vaughn’s article, “Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana is classified as a
Schedule I drug on the basis that is has “a high potential for abuse.” This means that the perception is that people get on marijuana, they get hooked and become “potheads,” and it begins to dominate their lives”(1). As you can see, marijuana affects one’s social life and in the end, takes over their minds because all they think about is the next time they are going to light up. When “potheads” decide they want to smoke, they usually feel guilty to smoke alone so they believe when smoking with one or more people, it makes it acceptable. Teenagers and adults, who are socially addicted to smoking marijuana, must find a way to control their need for marijuana and find an alternative activity when hanging out. Teenagers are also influenced by the musicians of today’s world to smoke marijuana. It is common to hear rappers talk about smoking marijuana and using it to get money. This is relevant because teens look up to these rappers and artists as if they speak the word of God. They want to act just like these rappers and this can cause teens to partake in illegal drug activity and other misdemeanours. Since marijuana is illegal, the government should control what musicians are allowed to say, and especially ban them from using drug references in their songs.
Controversially, some people believe the legalization of marijuana could do society a good thing. Marijuana is used in today’s society to aid cancer patients through the pains that treatment can cause. If marijuana were to become legalized, another positive outcome could be that the government could control and distribute it. This would be good because the government could tax marijuana and use that money to improve the roads and other parts of cities that need improvement. This could be a benefit to the community, but it also can do more harm than good because our citizens would be “high” more often and impair their driving and possibly cause serious harm to themselves and others around them.
Although this debate has been an ongoing issue for that last decade or so, with the information provided throughout this essay, making a choice to vote against the legalization of marijuana should be in society’s mind. If we would like to see our children and our children’s children suffer, we would continue to keep it illegal for the possession of marijuana. We hear stories everyday about somebody over dosing on a “hardcore” drug, and it makes one wonder if those people started their drug addicted lifestyle with marijuana. In Marijuana Should Be Decriminalized, Zimmer backs up that marijuana should be legal, “marijuana is not completely harmless it has an extremely wide margin of safety” (Zimmer 140). Since marijuana is a drug that does not have many serious side effects, people are peer pressured into smoking and they can eventually become a heavy drug user and slowly ruin their lives with pot. Slowly, our communities would be degraded to a lower class of people and decrease in intellectual capacity.

Works Cited

Vaughn, James. Up in Smoke. James Vaughn. 2005. Web. 03 November 2005.
Van Petten, Vanessa. 10 Reasons Parents Should Not Support Legalizing Marijuana. Vanessa Van Petten. 2008. Web. 10 December 2008

Saitz, Richard. Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug? Richard Saitz. 2003. Web. 18
February 2003.

Grinspoon, Lester. Marijuana Reconsidered. Harvard University Press, 1996. Print.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (updated 2002). Marijuana: Facts parents need to know [NIH Publication No. 02-4036].
Barry R. McCaffrey. Drugs should not be legalized. San Diego, 2000. Print.
Lynn Zimmer. Marijuana Should Be Decriminalized. Greenhaven Press, Inc, 2004. Print.

Cited: Vaughn, James. Up in Smoke. James Vaughn. 2005. Web. 03 November 2005. Van Petten, Vanessa. 10 Reasons Parents Should Not Support Legalizing Marijuana. Vanessa Van Petten. 2008. Web. 10 December 2008 Saitz, Richard. Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug? Richard Saitz. 2003. Web. 18 February 2003. Grinspoon, Lester. Marijuana Reconsidered. Harvard University Press, 1996. Print. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (updated 2002). Marijuana: Facts parents need to know [NIH Publication No. 02-4036]. Barry R. McCaffrey. Drugs should not be legalized. San Diego, 2000. Print. Lynn Zimmer. Marijuana Should Be Decriminalized. Greenhaven Press, Inc, 2004. Print.

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