PotFreedom of Speech, Freedom of Thought, Freedom of Pot!
There is a war going on; it keeps thousands in pain every night, a war that if were to end, could save thousands of people’s lives. This is the war on marijuana. You could say that marijuana has a bad reputation in the eyes of many people, but in reality it is a drug which has the ability of saving lives and curing diseases in which have plagued us for too long. People need to be informed on the good that marijuana can bring not just to this country, but to the whole world.
Marijuana (cannabis sativa) is often referred to as pot, tea, grass, weed, hashish, maryjane, ganja, skunk, and there are many, many more depending on how it is used and/or where it is from. It can be sniffed, chewed, smoked, or added to foods or beverages, but most often is smoked by recreational users. Marijuana contains around sixty compounds called cannabanoids. The most psychoactive being delta-9-tetrahydracannabinol (Dudley 18). When marijuana is used, several things can happen to the user both physically and or mentally. Physical effects include: red eyes, dry mouth or throat, increase in heartbeat, tightness of chest (if smoked), drowsiness, unsteadiness, and muscular in-coordination. THC molecules can also distort part of the brains’ information-processing system, altering perception of time, while amplifying sounds and usual images (Dudley 18). This may not seem like something people would want legalized, but there are far more ways to use marijuana for good than for bad.
There are several interesting reasons why people fight for the legalization of marijuana, some people argue that if it was smoked as early as 2700 B.C. in China and India (Quick Facts 1) that it should be legal in all places. Or that since many of America’s greatest leaders and Founding Fathers (including George Washington) were hemp farmers (Quick Facts 1) that it would make the world a better place. Both of these general types of arguments have some reason in them, but the most valid arguments are probably to be about violence or medical reasons. After some thinking, the conclusion that any sick person who wants to use marijuana to help them self has to break the law (Dudley 39) can be made. This doesn’t seem fair at all, seeing as how people who are ill and whom might die could have a chance at a few more years of peace without suffering if marijuana were a legal drug.
In the United Stated of America, if someone breaks a law then they are arrested or penalized in some way or another. Smoking or having possession of marijuana is against the law, thus labeling over 18 million people as criminals (Brenner 1) and among them include important and successful people (Bill Clinton). People argue that legalizing marijuana would result in the downfall of the U.S., this is not likely at all. If marijuana were to be legalized there would be laws similar to tobacco and alcohol laws, therefore virtually eliminating the risk factor that is involved with this drug.
The government has been fearful of sending the message that if marijuana is medically useful, it can be used as a recreational drug (Dudley 61). This proves that there is, in fact, at least some medical use for marijuana. The government may fear that if marijuana is legalized it might cause as much trouble as alcohol and tobaccos have caused in the U.S. In example, the FBI reports that 65-75% of criminal violence is alcohol related, but it is legal… what’s that all about? (Quick Facts 2). This leads to the idea that marijuana smokers are more likely to stay safer than people using alcohol just because of the fact that marijuana smokers are more careful about smoking than people using alcohol are, maybe the government already knows this and that is why marijuana is illegal, that is probably not the case but it could still be a viable point though.
Coptic Christians, Rastafarians, Shinto’s, Hindus, Buddhists, Sufis, Essesnes, Zoroastrians, Bantus, and many other sects have traditions that consider the plant to have religious value (Quick Facts 1). In the U.S. we have the right to practice our religions, if we choose to exercise this right we are then breaking the law simply by following it. How would someone react if they could not be baptized in an area of the world where being Catholic or Christian was the minority and you could not use the proper tools required for this procedure just because alcohol was illegal, think about it. Is giving a minor a sip of red wine the same as giving a minor a “hit” of a marijuana cigarette? If not or even if it is, it’s the same basic principal here, the Freedom of Religion. Generally the arguments over the freedom of religion and alcohol/tobacco are not very strong arguments in comparison to the medical reasons of why it should be.
Medical uses of marijuana include stimulation of appetite, muscle relaxation, analgesia, helps migraines, convulsions, and sleep disorders (Dudley 53). Marijuana is also used to help patients with AIDS, glaucoma , and chemotherapy just to name a few. Cannabis is a strikingly safe, versatile, and a very inexpensive drug. Treating patients with marijuana would not pose a threat to them seeing as how chronic use does not establish physical dependence, nor, upon withdrawal, does the regular user suffer any extreme physical discomfort, but use may be psychologically habituating. Even with so many drugs that are used to help patients, marijuana was a major active ingredient in 40-50% of patent medicines before its ban (Quick Facts 2). A point to argue about on medical use of marijuana would be that if marijuana were legalized it would probably increase usage and may raise lung cancer since it is smoked most of the time, it is not a fact, although, that marijuana can cause lung cancer but is a possibility. Cancer is something that kills more than 1,500 people a day, and is the second leading cause of death (Cancer Statistics 1). If marijuana can aid in the well being of patients with cancer, why not save lives or at least stop their suffering by legalizing for medical use?
There are several solutions to this problem on marijuana, basically consisting of the decisions to legalize, or keep illegal. Keeping marijuana illegal would keep patients with certain medical conditions in bad health and would keep violence at its current condition, which would most likely increase over the next few years. Far more harm is caused by marijuana prohibition than by marijuana itself (Dudley 10). Legalizing for just medical reasons would not solve any violence problems, but would help patients with certain illnesses such as AIDS, glaucoma, and certain kinds of cancers. Full legalization of marijuana would not help much, but with certain rules applied with proper use, violence might take a plunge and lives could be saved. Marijuana can be harmful when abused, however, when used responsibly and in moderation, it is far less harmful than tobacco or alcohol (Dudley 9). Many stories have been told about young teens taking one puff with their friends and ruining their lives from that point on, it is safe to say that none of these are true and are just made up to discourage the use of marijuana. These stories are what give marijuana its bad reputation and what have caused it to become illegal and a threat in the eyes of many. Even though these stories have changed the opinions of many people, still, 85% of the American Public supports the change of legal access to marijuana to relieve pain and suffering (Dudley 14).
Marijuana usage rates . . . are the same in states that have decriminalized marijuana and in states where marijuana smokers are still arrested (Dudley 13). There are two kinds of people when dealing with this issue: people who will use marijuana, and people who won’t use it. If people don’t believe in smoking marijuana their reason would probably not be because they are afraid of getting arrested, but rather because of the stories they have heard about this drug and the effects it has on people’s lives. Of course, people who think this have been hidden from the truths, the importance, of making marijuana a legal drug.
According to the latest FBI statistics, in 1994 nearly one-half million (482,000) Americans were arrested on marijuana charges. The majority of those arrests (85%) were made for possession, not sale (Dudley 12). Those were real people who were paying taxes, supporting their children; suddenly they are arrested and jailed and treated as criminals, solely because of the recreational drug they had chosen to use. Responsible marijuana smokers pose no threat or danger to America, just like responsible alcohol users are not a problem, and there is no reason to treat them as criminals. Criminals are people who steal or kill people. Responsible marijuana smokers are not the problem and it’s time to stop arresting them.
Few people experiment with other illicit drugs without having tried marijuana first (Dudley 21). Let’s just think about this for a second. I don’t know about you, but smoking weed sure makes me want to do cocaine, and oh yea, it gives me the urge to jam needles into my arm too, just because of smoking weed. Lets just assume that everyone is really dumb and can’t handle drugs. We will support them, base our laws around them, and make everything in society for those people. The lowest incapable part of the species. And what about all the people that can handle all the good things in life without screwing everyone else over? Well they can suffer, they can be held back by our crap, because they’re not important. They can evolve at the same mind-numbing pace as the rest of us. So lets keep drugs illegal, cause some people can’t handle the responsibility. That’s the same principle they enforce in elementary school; one kid messes up and the rest suffer from his ignorance. In case you haven’t noticed, laws and regulations can’t hold back human curiosity. You can’t simply just stamp out those human urges with a law or two. You won’t succeed in preventing humans from being human.
“Cancer Statistics.” American Cancer Society. Online. Internet. 01 February 2001.
Dudley, William, et al., eds. Marijuana. California: Greenhaven Press, 1999.
“Marijuana” Encyclopadia Britannica: Macropadia. 1999 ed.
“Quick Facts About Pot.” Freepot.com. Online. Internet. 28 Jan 2001.
Todd Austin Brenner, “The Legalization of Drugs: Why Prolong the Inevitable?” Vol. 18, 1989.