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Article Summary

Should Marijuana Be Legalized? A Look At The Pros And Cons

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is among the most commonly abused drugs in all age groups across the United States. As such, it has been the subject of fiery debates both among lawmakers and authorities as well as among families and in workplaces. This is primarily as a result of the fact that people are largely divided in their views about the legalization of this drug.

Although many people are largely aware of the many dangers that come with using cannabis for recreational purposes, some states have started the push for its legalization. Additionally, a number of studies conducted on the compounds found in marijuana - commonly referred to as cannabinoid compounds - have discovered that the drug has some medicinal qualities. These studies have further fueled the ongoing conversation about whether this drug should be legalized.

Understanding Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana is a type of cannabis that is used in the treatment of some diseases and their symptoms. When this happens, unprocessed parts of the marijuana plant as well as its basic extracts are used.

At the moment, however, the FDA (or the Food and Drug Administration) is yet to give its recognition and stamp of approval for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Even so, several scientific studies into the cannabinoids found in marijuana have led to the FDA approval of a couple of medications that contain these chemicals. These medications usually come in the form of pills.

In the same way, the marijuana plant does contain chemicals that are useful in the treatment of many illnesses. As a direct result, many people have started calling for this drug to be legalized for medical use. Additionally, some states have already legalized medical marijuana.

Health Benefits Of Marijuana

Today, medical marijuana is available in many different forms. As such, it can be taken orally as a pill, vaporized, or smoked. It is also prepared in edible foods (known as marijuana edibles) that include chocolate bars, cookies, and brownies.

According to the FDA, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act passed by the federal government. This means that the drug comes with no legal medical uses and it has a relatively high potential for misuse, abuse, dependence, and addiction.

Even so, scientific studies agree that marijuana has some therapeutic and medical uses. Additionally, the human body is designed in such a way that it can naturally manufacture cannabinoids for modulating and eradicating pain.

That said, THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main cannabinoid found in marijuana. However, this chemical is psychoactive - which is why smoking, eating, or taking marijuana through any other route of administration often causes intoxicating and mind altering effects.

In particular, this drug targets the brain's and CNS's (central nervous system's) CB1 receptor - a receptor for cannabinoids found in the brain, the CNS, the lungs, the kidney, and the liver. Taking marijuana, therefore, effectively activates this receptors and silences the response of the body to noxious chemicals and pain.

According to a recent placebo-controlled scientific study that was published in the Neurology journal, it was discovered that cannabis is highly effective at lowering the neuropathic pain that is caused as a result of nerve damage. The same study showed that opiates - including but not limited to morphine - are not as effective as marijuana in treating this form of neuropathic pain.

A separate study revealed that cannabis - aside from opiates - can cause tremendous pain relief. Similarly, the American Academy of Neurology showed that medical marijuana that is used in the form of oral sprays and pills can effectively reduce muscle spasm and stiffness.

In another study, these medications were found to be useful in reducing the symptoms of pain that are commonly associated with overactive bladder, numbness, painful burning, and spasms.

Among the better known effects of marijuana use are the munchies - or the intense cravings for food - that occur when people take this drug. These effects have variously been found to be useful to stimulate appetite among patients suffering from the after-effects of undergoing chemotherapy as a result of diseases like cancer, as well as among those who are HIV positive. The drug is particularly useful in treating the nausea that chemotherapy induces, although there are limited scientific studies about the uses of smoked marijuana.

Even so, the FDA has already approved two chemically altered forms of the THC compound found in cannabis - namely nabilone and dronabinol. This is because these chemicals have been proved to be useful in reducing the vomiting and nausea related to chemotherapy for cancer patients.

Medical marijuana has also been shown to be useful in the treatment of glaucoma. This is an elevated pressure of the eyeballs that comes with the risk of resulting in blindness. This was after the American Cancer Society showed that the drug works well at decreasing intra-ocular pressure - although this only works when you take it several times every day for a given period of time.

In all of the studies explained above, it was found that cannabidiol (commonly abbreviated as CBD) is the non-psychoactive component of cannabis with the greatest medical benefits. This chemical is particularly useful because it does not activate the CB1 receptors - meaning that it cannot in any way cause users to feel intoxicated.

In fact, the Journal Translational Psychiatry revealed that this chemical is effective in treating schizophrenia. According to this article, an University of Cologne study randomly administered either amisulpride (a drug that was initially thought to be the most effective in the treatment of schizophrenia) or cannabidiol over a period of 28 days. After the study ended, it was found that there were no differences between these two types of treatment.

Marijuana Side Effects

Even with so many positive medical benefits, marijuana still comes with some side effects. This is because its active compound binds itself to the cannabinoid receptors found in the parts of the brain that are responsible for controlling time perceptions, coordination, pleasure, memory, and thinking. In the process, this chemical effectively disrupts balance, judgement, and attention.

Similarly, different scientific studies have produced varying results about the potential of smoking marijuana to increase the risk of contracting cancer among users. Even so, the drug comes with a variety of side effects, as you will learn in the following sections:

a) Short Term Effects

If you smoke marijuana, the THC component will pass quickly from your lungs and straight into your blood stream. After that, your blood will transfer this chemical to other organs of your body - including your brain.

On the other hand, if you drink or eat substances containing cannabis, your body will absorb the THC chemical much slower than if you smoked the drug. This means that its effects will be felt anywhere between half a hour to a hour.

This chemical works on some specific receptors in the brain - those that are naturally wired to respond to other natural chemicals inside the brain that resemble THC. These natural chemicals are responsible for the normal development and functioning of your brain.

Taking marijuana, therefore, will activate the areas of your brain that have the highest number of these receptors. As a result, such drug use can cause you to feel intoxicated - or high, as some marijuana users refer to this experience.

The drug can also bring about additional effects in the short term, including but not limited to:

  • Difficulty with problem-solving
  • Difficulty with thinking
  • Distorted sense of time
  • Impaired body movement
  • Impaired memory
  • Impaired senses (for instance, you might start seeing bright colors)
  • Intense mood changes

b) Long Term Effects

According to many different scientific studies, using marijuana can affect the development of the brain in adverse ways. In particular, if you take this drug earlier on in your life - such as during your teens - you might suffer a cumulative reduction in your learning, memory, and thinking functions.

The drug can also affect the way your brain connects between the various areas and segments that work hand in hand to make these functions possible. As a direct result, these effects might prove to be long term in nature or completely permanent.

In one study, it was revealed that heavy marijuana users who started out in their teens and ended up developing a cannabis use disorder lost about 8 IQ points when they were tested between the ages of 13 and 38. The study also showed that these lost mental abilities did not return completely even after the users stopped smoking the drug as adults. Conversely, those who had started using marijuana as adults did not experience a similar decline in the level of their IQ.

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Marijuana Use And Legalization

The pros and cons of marijuana legalization can help you understand the right answers to the "should marijuana be legalized?" question. By laying out the various advantages and dangers of using this drug, many people can be empowered to make more informed decisions about whether to use or not to use cannabis.

PROS

1. Potential Boosts in Revenue

Although the black market has made a lot of money - and continue making it - as a result of selling marijuana, the federal government has been looking for new ways on how to increase its revenues so that it can fund other projects like road repairs and building parks.

By legalizing this drug, therefore, the government can redirect its many profits from its traditional uses in the black market to use in supporting other government-led projects. As a result, the government can even impose tax on legal marijuana - monies that will eventually be used to benefit everyone in the country.

2. Effective Law Enforcement

Decriminalizing or legalizing the use of marijuana will allow the authorities to focus their attention on other crimes. Even though the implementation of various legal stipulations surrounding cannabis use, production, distribution, and manufacture will be largely monitored by key government and police agencies, it is clear that law enforcement officials will be able to shift their priorities. Legalization, to this end, will allow them to focus on other more pressing matters.

3. Reduced Drug-Related Crime

If the government legalizes this drug, it could potentially decrease the total amount of money and time spent in supporting organized crime. Many authorities agree that such legalization could prevent traders from selling the drug. In the process, it could potentially reduce the number of crimes related to marijuana drug trades.

4. Access to Medical Marijuana

This is one of the main reasons why those who are for marijuana are trying to compel the government to legalize the drug. According to recent studies, medical marijuana is increasingly becoming popular as a result of the various positive effects it has on alleviating chronic pain - particularly among cancer and HIV patients

Although health professionals still choose to prescribe this medication, it is still difficult for many patients to find stores that sell cannabis legally. Were the government to legalize the drug, therefore, more stores would be set up to sell the medication.

All these stores would have to abide by the laws and rules imposed by the government. As a result, more patients would have easier access to approved medical marijuana.

A great deal of emphasis has already been put on the various medical benefits that are likely to arise when the drug is legalized. It could, for instance, help in the management of pain for patients suffering from cancer, trauma, and nerve damage.

The active ingredient in this drug - THC - has been shown in various studies to be effective as a pain relief chemical. However, marijuana comes with more benefits that just pain relief. For instance, studies reveal that it can prevent some of the adverse symptoms associated with the infamous Alzheimer's disease that affects so many senior citizens. The drug is also linked to a reduction and complete halting of the formation of brain plaques in some patients.

Additionally, patients with cancer who have to undergo chemotherapy often experience severe nausea and vomiting. Providing them with legalized medical marijuana could potentially enable them to eat normally and keep food down.

Last but not least, the drug is now considered useful in the treatment of breast cancer, lung cancer, asthma, glaucoma, and insomnia.

5. Better Drug Control

Illegal drugs are common in every sphere of society - particularly in concerts, clubs, and rave parties. Unfortunately, the general lack of regulations and rules for most of these substances has led some dealers to try and sell different drugs that mimic the common effects of popular substances. Using these drugs often comes with adverse effects.

To this end, legalizing marijuana could make it easier for users to know exactly what they are buying as well as the exact quantities they receive. This may never happen if the drug does not receive the approval of the government.

6. Freedom of Choice

The constitution of the United States effectively provides for certain inviolable rights and freedoms of every American. As such, all citizens have the right to make their own choices - including but not limited to the right to use drugs.

Irrespective of whether drugs are good or bad for the user, it is their own personal volition and decision to use or not to use them. Therefore, legalizing marijuana will allow more people to get the information they need to decide whether or not to take this drug - without fearing that they could be prosecuted.

7. Reduced Drug Dealing

Making marijuana could reduce the amount of business available to drug dealers - particularly those who traffic and sell this drug. Today, many of these dealers have taken advantage of the fact that marijuana is illegal to sell it at exorbitant prices.

If the drug were to be legalized, its price would be standardized. This could potentially prevent drug dealers from profiting from marijuana sales. This is because the drug will be made available anywhere and at any time - a fact that could effectively reduce the revenue available to drug dealers.

CONS

Now for the drawbacks of marijuana legalization:

1. Addiction

Anti-marijuana advocates commonly cite the fact that the drug is addictive to further push for its criminalization. In particular, cannabis contains over 400 different chemicals - although the THC component is responsible for the euphoric, mind altering, and intoxicating effects of the drug.

To this end, one of the disadvantages that will come with marijuana legalization is that it will be more available to more people. This could potentially increase the drug addiction problem that has been plaguing the country.

2. Altered Perception

Smoking marijuana will cause its mind altering sensations to occur in as little as quarter of a hour. Among the disadvantages of the distorted sense of perception that the drug causes are that it can lead to a variety of dangerous situations - including injuries and deaths arising from driving or using heavy machinery while on the drug.

Today, various studies have pointed out the fact that marijuana is among the most commonly mind altering substances in the country - including in the workplace. Therefore, if the drug is legalized, it could lead to many more incidences of these drug-related injuries and deaths.

3. Gateway Drug

Various studies have shown that marijuana is a gateway drug. This means that some people use it as a stepping stone to get to other intoxicating and mind altering substances - including potent drugs like heroin, ecstasy, fentanyl, and cocaine.

In a recent study, it was found that individuals who smoked cannabis while drinking alcohol and taking tobacco had 2 to 3 times the likelihood of abusing prescription drugs later on in their lives.

Therefore, if marijuana were legalized, it could create a large drug problem - especially when people start using it for recreational purposes. In the long run, it could potentially increase the financial and societal costs for the treatment of people who will shift from marijuana to other harder drugs.

4. Risk to the Safety of the General Public

Legalizing marijuana could potentially lead to a simultaneous increase in the number of accidents related to the use of this drug. This could, therefore, pose a serious risk to the safety and security of the general public.

According to recent statistics, there has constantly been an increase in the total number of traffic accidents related to alcohol abuse and intoxication - even though alcohol is a legal drug. By direct comparison, it is highly likely that this number will not go down if marijuana receives the approval of the government.

In fact, if more people are able to access the drug because it is legal, it is highly probable that the safety of the public will be threatened. This is because marijuana causes serious lapses in judgment and decision making - effects that could increase the incidence of crimes like driving while intoxicated, rape, and robbery.

5. Child Exposure to Drugs

The law expressly prohibits the sale of cigarettes and alcohol to those who are below the age of majority. This is because their young bodies are incapable of processing and handling the effects of these substances. Even so, children and teens are naturally curious - which is why some of them give in to the temptation to try these substances even though the law is against it.

Therefore, if marijuana is legalized, the drug would be more accessible to the underage. This could compound the drug problem that has been affecting children and teens by adding another legal drug to the list of already troubling substances that they illegally abuse.

6. Secondhand Smoke

Exposure to the second hand smoke arising from tobacco use has been linked to a number of danger and adverse health effects. If marijuana receives the stamp of approval of the FDA and other government bodies and authorities, there will be a higher risk that more people will be exposed to cannabis smoke. Needless to say, this could increase the risk of suffering some of the severe effects of such exposure.

7. Psychological Effects

It is frightening to think of the damage that using marijuana can cause to your brain. In fact, studies now show that even after one month of abstaining from this drug, it can still continue seriously impacting how blood flows inside the brain. This lack of adequate amounts of oxygen in the human brain has been severally linked to a variety of serious conditions, including coma and sudden death.

8. Effects on the Lungs

Smoking marijuana is the same as smoking tobacco cigarettes in the sense that both forms of substance abuse can cause significant damage to the lungs. In fact, abusing cannabis can magnify some of the adverse effects that you suffer in your lungs more than 10 times the impact of smoking regular cigarettes.

This is because most cannabis users tend to inhale the smoke and hold it inside the lungs much longer than they would with ordinary cigarettes. This form of substance abuse can increase the risk of lung cancer.

9. Heart Disease

Using marijuana can also heighten your risk of suffering heart disease. Apart from the adverse impact of cannabis use on your health, it can also affect the functioning of your heart.

In fact, there is a high likelihood that you might acquire heart diseases as a result of the chemicals found in marijuana. These chemicals serve to obstruct the natural flow of blood all through your body - as well as how your body takes in oxygen and pushes it out.

Smoking weed, in particular, can increase your heart rate by up to 100%. This effect will simultaneously increase your risk of suffering a heart attack or severe cardiac arrest.

10. Decreased Mental Functioning

All types of drugs - marijuana included - act on the CNS (or the central nervous system), the main organ of the brain. Research scientists have variously linked cannabis use to severe brain damage and mental illness. This is because this drug can interfere with your natural ability to respond to external stimuli, focus, concentrate, make proper decisions, and organize information.

These adverse effects on the brain have been found to last for a couple of weeks after the last dose of marijuana. As a direct result, they can serious impact your judgement.

This is an extremely dangerous proposition, especially to young users in their teens who do not have fully developed brains. Additional mental disorders linked to frequent and early marijuana use include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression.

A Brief History Of Cannabis In The United States

A 2017 poll shows that close to 44% of the entire population of American adults abuse marijuana regularly. In most cases, people use the dried blossoms of the cannabis Indica and the cannabis sativa plants as a medicine, herb, and hemp for making rope, as well as for recreational purposes.

As of this year (2018), the federal government has been claiming the right to (and still does) criminalize the possession, growing, selling, production, and manufacture of weed in every state.

Although this is not a constitutional right, the US Supreme Court most notably ruled in 2005 (Reich v. Gonzales) upheld the federal government's right to ban the use of marijuana in every American state. This was in spite of the Justice Clarence Thomas' dissenting statement. The statement held that the American Congress could regulate activity that isn't either commerce or interstate according to the Interstate Commerce Clause. Additionally, the Supreme Court effectively abandoned all attempts to enforce the constitutional limits on federal authority and power on matters of marijuana legalization.

But what is the history of marijuana in the United States? In the years before the 20th century, the cannabis plant was largely unregulated in the country. As a direct result, marijuana was typically used as an ingredient in many medications.

The common thought is that Mexican immigrants introduced the recreational use of this substance in the country early on during the 20th century. By the 1930s, cannabis was publicly linked in a number of research studies and through the Reefer Madness film (1936) to anti-social behavior, violence, and crime.

Today, many people believe that most of the objections against this drug first rose as part of the American temperance movement targeted at alcohol. Others believe that cannabis was demonized due the fear that Americans had for Mexican immigrants as a result of the drug.

Today, the drug is largely illegal in the country largely due to public health and moral reasons, as well as persistent concerns over the crime and violence that is linked to the distribution, production, and sale of marijuana.

Despite federal regulations, however, 9 states have legalized the distribution, use, and growth of weed within their jurisdictions and borders. Many others continue debating whether they should do the same or not.

So, what are the reasons given for and against the legalization of marijuana? The primary reasons that support legalization include:

a) Social Reasons

Some of the social reasons for legalizing cannabis include:

  • Marijuana comes with a broad range of medical purposes, particularly for patients suffering from diseases and ailments like glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, and cancer
  • Prohibiting the drug is an unwarranted intrusion by government into the freedom of choice guaranteed to every individual by the American constitution
  • The drug is no more harmful than tobacco or alcohol, both of which are legal and largely available; these two drugs are also regulated by the FDA
  • Violence and crime - both at the Mexican border with the US and within the country - are largely linked to the illegal distribution, buying, selling, and growth of the drug; as a direct result, it is highly likely that legalizing marijuana could potentially put an end to the need for this sort of criminal behavior

b) Law Enforcement Reasons

  • Drug busts of young people for marijuana-related offenses often tend to carry strict penalties and punitive measures that might end up causing undue social harm and other lifelong consequences
  • The Unified Crime Statistics released by the FBI (or the Federal Bureau of Investigation) shows that more than 587,000 people were arrested for marijuana-related crimes in 20016; this number is larger than all other violent crimes like rape and murder combined. As such, it is clear that these marijuana arrests have been placing undue stress on the judicial system

c) Fiscal Reasons

At the moment, marijuana is among the bestselling agricultural products in the United States; the Colorado Department of Revenue, for instance, shows that combined annual sales of the drug over 4 years for the state (since it was legalized in 2014) topped more than $4.5 billion

Mainstream media pundits like Glenn Beck (Fox News) and Jeff Cafferty (CNN) have questioned the billions of dollars being spent annually to fight the seemingly endless war against intoxicating substances like marijuana

To this end, legalizing and regulating marijuana could potentially see the country saving close to $8 billion or more - money that the government spends on enforcement - including but not limited to US Mexico border and FBI security

On the other hand, the reasons given against the legalization of marijuana include, but are not limited to:

a) Social Reasons

  • In the same way that most pro-life advocates have been seeking to illegalize and criminalize abortion for every American on moral grounds, some Americans have been clamoring for the continued criminalization of marijuana because they believe that using this drug is immoral.
  • Many people now allege that using this drug on a regular basis often causes the user to move on to a harder and more harmful drug like cocaine and heroin
  • Similarly, it is clear that abusive and long term use of this drug can harm the wellbeing and health of the user
  • The second hand smoke from cannabis has been shown to be harmful to those who inhale it

b) Law Enforcement Reasons

  • Most law enforcement agencies do not want to be thought of as supporting any form of harmful substance abuse
  • Some of the people who oppose the legalization of marijuana now believe that the people who are involved in the illegal selling and buying of the substance have a higher likelihood of being involved in additional crimes; as such, they contend that society would be safer if all offenders apprehended for marijuana-related crimes were punished duly, society would be safer

Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

Of more than 50% of the entire population of adults in the United States, over 128 million have tried using cannabis - even though it is classified as an illegal substance by the federal government. Additionally, more than 600000 people are arrested every year for possessing the drug - a number that is more than 1 American per minute.

According to recent statistics, public support for the legalization of this substance went up to 64% from 12% in 1969. In 2012, Washington and Colorado both legalized the use of recreational marijuana (for adults). Soon after, DC and 9 other states followed suit.

The proponents of the legalization of recreational marijuana often claim that this action could potentially end up adding billions to the American economy. They also explain that such legalization could free up the scarce police and law enforcement resources for use in other more dire cases, create thousands of jobs every year, and put a stop to the largely racial disparities that apply in the enforcement of marijuana-related laws.

These proponents also contend that the regulation of the drug could potentially lead to such benefits as:

  • Lowering street crime
  • Make the use of the drug safer through mandatory labeling, child-proof packaging, and testing
  • Taking business away from many drug cartels

Additionally, they claim that marijuana is much less harmful than other legal intoxicating and mind altering substances like alcohol and cigarettes. Others have stated that adults have a right to take marijuana should they choose to do so.

On the other hand, those who oppose the legalization of the drug claim that such an action could potentially increase its use by teens - a definite health crisis in waiting. They also state that legalization could add to the already existing drug-related medical emergencies that have been plaguing the country as a result of traffic accidents caused by intoxicated drivers.

Opponents additionally contend that even the anticipated revenues from legalizing the drug fall short of the related costs of increased visits to hospitals and emergency rooms, addiction treatment, crime, lost productivity, workplace accidents, and environmental damaged linked to marijuana use.

In the same way, they have stated that using this drug tends to cause serious physical and psychological harm both to the user and to those around them. As such, they close their arguments by saying that the cannabis use needs to be discouraged by all means possible.

Legalizing Medical Marijuana

To better understand whether marijuana should be legalized - especially for medical uses - it is crucial to read the answers provided by experts on the subject. Consider the following:

1. The Physician Perspective

There is promising research showing that marijuana use could potentially impact the lives of tens of thousands of adults and children. To name some of these uses, the drug is now linked to usefulness in the treatment of Alzheimer's, epilepsy, and cancer.

Additionally, using marijuana could potentially reduce the increasing demand for prescription narcotics for use in the treatment and management of painful conditions. At the same time, it might also greatly decrease the growing number of cases of accidental overdose linked to various painkillers - overdoses that are among the largest cause of preventable illness and death in the United States.

As such, many physicians agree that there is a need to study marijuana further and to treat it like any other medication.

However, some also state that medical marijuana does not exist. Among these are people who claim that the risks and dangers linked to the use of this drug are largely known in the scientific community - even though corporate interests continue downplaying these effects.

Some of the negative outcomes linked to marijuana use include psychosis, motor vehicle accidents, deteriorated intellectual and mental functioning, addiction, lose productivity, and apathy.

All these adverse effects come from a product that seems to not have any demonstrated benefits in the long term. In fact, for most of the conditions for which people claim that cannabis has purported benefits, there are already existing medications - some of which are safer than marijuana - that have been demonstrated to be valuable.

2. Medical Opinions

The American College of Physicians (or the ACP) has urged the government to review the status of marijuana as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. The same body states that the drug should be reclassified into another appropriate schedule - especially given the fact that there is overwhelming scientific evidence support the efficacy and safety of medical marijuana in clinical conditions.

ACP has also strongly supported the exemption of the drug from professional sanctions like loss of credentialing and licensure, civil liability, and federal prosecutions for physicians who choose to dispense and prescribe marijuana according to existing state laws.

Additionally, the college urges the government to protect patients who take medical marijuana where such use is allowed by state law. This protection should cover them from both civil and criminal penalties.

On the other hand, the AAO (or the American Academy of Ophthalmology) - the largest association of eye surgeons and physicians in the world - continues to remind the general public that it strongly discourages the use of cannabis products like marijuana for use in treating glaucoma.

Analysis from the Institute of Medicine and the National Eye Institute have informed this decision by the AAO. In fact, the Academy has claimed that it does not find any scientific evidence to support the contention that marijuana is effective as a long term drug for the treatment of glaucoma. This is particularly in comparison with the many different surgical treatments and prescription medications available for such treatment.

Other ophthalmologists have also cautioned the general public that marijuana comes with a wide variety of side effects that could potentially endanger the eye health of the user.

3. Government Views

Barack Obama, the former US president, went on record as saying that he thought that carefully prescribed use of marijuana for medical purposes might turn out to be appropriate. According to him, the country should follow the mounting scientific evidence supporting the uses of this drug instead of going with the ideology informing legalization versus criminalization.

However, he also went on record saying that the way America continues treating the problem of substance abuse from the public health perspective and not from the incarceration perfective would make the country better.

Even so, many other government agencies continue to oppose the legalization of marijuana - whether for medical or for recreational purposes. This is because of the scientific evidence showing the adverse effects of using this drug, the societal harm it causes, as well as the violence and crime linked to its manufacture, growth, distribution, sale, and purchase.

In fact, there is sound evidence to show that smoking marijuana comes with many negative consequences. Several agencies, including SAMHSA (or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), NIDA (or the National Institute on Drug Abuse), the FDA, and the HHS (or the Health and Human Services departments) all conclude that marijuana is harmful. They also agree there are no scientific studies that soundly support the efficacy and safety of using this drug for medical purposes. This is because there are other alternative medications that have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of most of the conditions that are linked to marijuana.

The FDA, the DEA, the NDCP (or the National Drug Control Policy office) and the CSA have also come out against the support of the legalization of marijuana for medical use.

4. Health Risks

Lester Grinspoon from the Harvard School of Medicine claims that there is little evidence showing that using marijuana comes with significant risks to health. Although the drug has been smoked by many for over 4 centuries, Lester claims that there have not been any reported cases of emphysema or lung cancer linked to the marijuana. Further, Lester suspects that breathing in the air from any city that relatively poor quality air is more of the threat than smoking marijuana.

However, NIDA reports that marijuana smoke is the same as tobacco smoke in the sense that it irritates the lungs and throat and that it can cause heavy coughing even during use. This smoke also contains highly toxic particles and gases that could significantly cause serious damage to the lungs.

Additionally, NIDA informs the public that smoking marijuana has been linked with a variety of adverse health effects, including but not limited to:

  • Increased airway resistance
  • Large airway inflammation
  • Lung hyperinflation
  • Chronic bronchitis

Further, the same body reports that smoking this drug might reduce the immune response of the respiratory system. This condition could potentially increase your likelihood of acquiring a variety of respiratory infections - including but not limited to pneumonia. In fact, a study sponsored by NIDA found that those who smoke marijuana frequently tend to ask for more sick days in comparison to those who did not as a result of respiratory and breathing illnesses.

5. Marijuana in Pain Management

Last but not least, research documents the efficacy and safety of marijuana for medical uses in the treatment of chronic pain. These studies claim that marijuana comes with no lethal dose that is known, little to no interaction with other drugs, and the potential for easy dosing through vaporization, topical absorption, and oral ingestion. As such, it effectively avoids some of the potential risks linked to smoking the drug.

However, Gregory Blunt (a doctor) states that there is little to no actual scientific evidence to show that marijuana is effective in diminishing significant pain. Further, he adds that the drug has not been linked to any analgesic effect that can be specifically identified and explained.

He claims that the fact that marijuana produces short term central nervous system euphoria is responsible for its effects in alleviating some of the pain that you might be suffering. However, the relief you will derive from using this drug will only be in the short term.

In the same way, he claims that there has not been any scientific evidence to show that using marijuana in the long term is either safe or effective in treating chronic pain. Instead, he suggests that there are many other analgesic medications that physicians and patients alike have access to - medications that have been proved to be effective and already become established in medical practice. Through clinical and scientific research, these medications have been shown to be safer and more effectual in treating chronic pain - something that cannot be said for marijuana.

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