Essays on Marijuana

Introduction for Essay

Marijuana, Weed, The Devil’s Lettuce, Cannabis, etc., has accumulated a reputation of being a malicious substance and detrimental to health and society. However, the history and motives behind this stigmatization are heavily detached from the goal of preserving the health of the population. The drug has been characterized as corrupt and dangerous for sociopolitical reasons and for economic preservation. Research into the history of …has unveiled an extreme lack of morality on the part of our government. The consequences of these policies and propaganda are still unveiling as a heavy stigma surrounds the term marijuana. This is especially detrimental and naive considering the multitude of uses that this plant can be utilized for. Ultimately the staunch societal prejudice towards this drug is still surprisingly prominent and thus has impeded the positive implementation of cannabis as both a medical and recreational substance.

Research Paper on Marijuana

Historically, marijuana has been used for centuries. It was first recorded as being utilized recreationally in the Hindu Kush Mountains and has spread across the world ever since. For example, in Roman bathhouses, the plant was burned in large quantities as a means of relaxation. Even here in America, it was sold in a tincture form as a means of pain and stress relief. It wasn’t until the mid-1900s that it began to gain a reputation for being an extremely dangerous drug. Harry Anslinger, the commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who was a harsh prohibitionist, realized that his funding would be cut after the end of prohibition. He then used the anti-Mexican social ideology of the time to villainize marijuana and associate it with Mexicans, therefore satisfying the mob and gaining funding to criminalize marijuana. Anslinger used this racism to fuel propaganda against the drug. He testified before Congress, “Marijuana is an addictive drug, which produces in its users: insanity, criminality, and death.” This movement is commonly known as “reefer madness” (Booth, 2011).

Argumentative Essay Examples on Marijuana

The drug swiftly began to gain a reputation as an extremely dangerous and harsh substance used by racial minorities. This came to a head during President Nixon’s time in office. By this time, the uproar that Anslinger had caused had begun to die down, and studies had been conducted falsifying his claims. When presented with these studies as standing for legalization, Nixon instead moved to start a “War on Drugs.” This movement was not, however, for the health of the population. Nixon and his Assistant of Domestic Affairs, John Ehrlichman, manifested a series of policies and actions against political groups that they were opposed to under the guise of a movement for the health and safety of the public.

Thesis Statement for Marijuana

Ehrlichman was quoted stating, ‘You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or blacks, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities…We could arrest their leaders. Raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course, we did” (Baum, 2016). With no evidence, except for a heavy amount of propaganda, Nixon reignited the prejudice against marijuana, practically equating the drug to pure evil.

With very little opposition Nixon was able to do exactly what he had intended. His administration cracked down on the drug and, therefore, his political opposition. The first mandatory minimum laws were instituted, which can put someone in possession of marijuana in prison for 5-10 years (Sterling, 1999). The effects of these racist laws are still being felt today. In 2016, the average sentence for offenders who were convicted of an offense carrying a drug mandatory minimum penalty was 94 months in prison. That’s more than twice the sentence (42 months) for drug offenders not convicted with a mandatory minimum penalty.

Research Papers: Uncovering the Truth behind Marijuana’s Stigmatization

This is indicative of the actual motives behind the war on drugs and is a somber reminder that marijuana stigmatization is still very present in modern America. This complete exaggeration of the danger of marijuana is also evident in the national drug schedules created by the D.E.A. that are still used today. As defined by the D.E.A., Schedule I “drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” (D.E.A. 2018). Classifying marijuana under these conditions has been proven inaccurate, yet the substance still remains a Schedule 1 substance, and individuals who are in possession of marijuana are legally committing the same crime as if they were in possession of heroin. Marijuana has been vastly misrepresented by both the media and the government for the sole purpose of criminalizing minority groups and political ideologies.

Naive Arguments Against Marijuana Legalization

The common arguments raised against marijuana and its legalization are also shockingly naive and vastly misrepresent the drug and its effects. The highly publicized side effects during the war on drugs and from anti-drug programs are that marijuana is an addictive substance that can result in insanity and even death, as well as be a “gateway drug” into harsher and more dangerous substances. These claims are either gross exaggerations of actual effects or blatant lies. From an addiction standpoint, marijuana does not fall into the same type of addiction that individuals commonly associate with drug abuse.

Marijuana is used medically as a form of pain reduction. This creates a mental dependence on marijuana in individuals who use the drug for extensive amounts of time in high doses (Schley 56-57). However, dependence on a substance is substantially less severe and less detrimental to an individual’s health than an addiction to a drug such as opium. This perceived addiction is commonly used as a basis for the “gateway drug” claim that has been raised against marijuana. In actuality, marijuana does not appear to have any indication of being a “gateway” drug. While the use of marijuana, as well as tobacco and alcohol, have been linked to a disposition to other substances in animal studies, there is no evidence to suggest that individuals who use marijuana are going to move on to harsher substances (N.I.D.A. 2018).

Marijuana has also been claimed to lead to insanity and even criminality, which is a massive exaggeration. In reality, long-term and constant use of marijuana can lead to panic disorders and psychosis, as well as be a catalyst for depression later in life (Schley 56-57). Finally, the claim that one can overdose on marijuana is simply made up. In recorded history, there have been absolutely no cases of death caused by marijuana. The effects of consuming large amounts of marijuana in a short period of time are nausea and drowsiness, not death (Wing, 2018).

Despite the stereotypical and drastically exaggerated effects of marijuana, as previously cited, there are some health risks. Marijuana is still a drug, and the consumption of this substance can have negative effects on one’s health. In individuals whose brain is not yet fully developed, the consumption of marijuana (specifically T.H.C.) can lead to impaired development in the prefrontal cortex and frontal lobe. These areas of the brain are associated with memory formation (Schley 56-57). The consumption of marijuana also impairs one’s cognitive functions, like the majority of other drugs, and can induce: temporary mild hallucinations, paranoia, and increased symptoms of a pre-existing mental disorder. While serious, the aforementioned symptoms and side effects are a risk that users should be allowed to choose to take, considering that other legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco have similar and even more detrimental consequences.

Contrasting the Health Risks of Tobacco and Alcohol

Tobacco is a very large consumer product and is legal for anyone over the age of 18 in the United States. However, the side effects of using tobacco/nicotine are exponentially more harmful to the population than marijuana. Tobacco smoking leads to lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. It increases the risk of heart disease, which can lead to a stroke or a heart attack. Smoking has also been linked to a multitude of other cancers, as well as cataracts and pneumonia. Smokeless tobacco increases the risk of cancer, especially mouth cancer (N.I.H. 2018). Tobacco is also responsible for, on average, 480,000 death each year. Marijuana has no link to the development of any cancers or heart disease and is responsible for zero deaths in history.

The other prevalent substance that is legal and commercially available is alcohol. Alcohol is one of the most popular drugs legally available. However, the health risks posed by the consumption of this substance are extensive. Alcohol use can lead to Cardiomyopathy, Arrhythmias, Stroke, High blood pressure, Steatosis, Alcoholic hepatitis and Fibrosis, Cirrhosis, as well as a variety of cancers. Alcohol is also responsible for, on average, 30,700 deaths each year (N.I.H. 2018). With the exhaustive list of detrimental health risks associated with alcohol and tobacco, which are both fully legal, the severe criminalization of marijuana is hypocritical and motivated by sociopolitical factors rather than a genuine interest in the preservation of the health of the general populous.

T.H.C. Levels in Marijuana: Impact on Brain Development and Mental Health

Another prevalent argument for the continued criminalization of marijuana is the increase in T.H.C. levels present in the substance. Marijuana functions by releasing cannabinoids into our bloodstream. These cannabinoids then bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain. T.H.C. (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is one of 8 or more cannabinoids found in marijuana and is responsible for the psychoactive element of marijuana consumption. This is also the cannabinoid that can lead to impairment of brain development in adolescents, paranoia, mild hallucinations, and in extreme cases, psychosis (Schley 56-57).

In the past 30 years, the concentration of T.H.C. in marijuana has increased dramatically, and this has been used as a counterargument for the legalization of marijuana. Ironically, the increase in T.H.C. levels was a result of the criminalization of marijuana. When marijuana was criminalized, it, as well as any criminalized substance, gained a price on black markets. In order to sell the smallest amount of product for the highest price, drug dealers began to genetically engineer marijuana to have higher levels of psychoactive T.H.C. (Nutshell, 2018). While this increase is certainly not beneficial to a consumer’s health, it still poses less of a health risk than other legal substances.

Exploring the Therapeutic Uses of Cannabinoids

Seemingly the most harmful consequence of the stigmatized criminalization of marijuana is the wasted medical potential of the substance. The 8+ cannabinoids found in marijuana have an array of medical uses. A non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana, Cannabidiol (CBD), is a physically harmless chemical that has a number of medical implementations. This substance can be used as a painkiller, an anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, an anxiety reducer, an antipsychotic, and can suppress muscle spasms (Schley 56-57). This substance can be individually extracted from the marijuana plant and be used in an ointment or pill or can be inhaled. It also could be used as a prescription pain medication, making the use of addictive opiates obsolete.

Additionally, CBD, as well as other cannabinoids, can help an individual with a variety of mental disorders. CBD reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression. This substance can reduce the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenics. It can alleviate psychotic symptoms of Parkinson’s and some issues with motor control. The combination of CBD and T.H.C. can relax some arteries and improve heart function, altering the growth of certain immune cells, which can help with complications in a patient’s immune system. T.H.C. can be used as an antidepressant as well as alleviate symptoms of insomnia and other sleep disorders. Finally, the most common use for marijuana as a whole is to alleviate pain (Schley 56-57).

The use of marijuana as a pain medication is one of the most promising developments in medical marijuana’s popularity. The implementation of the substance as a means of pain reduction would make the use of addictive opioids obsolete. The reliving properties of cannabinoids such as CBD match those of common opioids such as hydrocodone, but with little to no risks to a patient’s health. A 2016 study showed that in states with legal, medical marijuana, the use of prescription drugs fell significantly (Anon. 2018). With the cornucopia of health benefits and medical implementations of the many chemicals in the substance, it seems to defy basic logic that marijuana is still heavily stigmatized and remains a Schedule 1 drug “with no currently accepted medical use” (D.E.A. 2018).

Ideas: Unveiling the Propaganda and Sociopolitical Motives

From an ideological standpoint, the stigmatization and criminalization of marijuana seem inexcusably immoral. A movement designed to aid government agencies and agendas and oppress minority groups by spreading propaganda and false claims violates even the most basic sense of integrity. It also may have contributed to the amount of the population that uses marijuana and the potency of the drug. By heavily criminalizing the drug, the government planted the seeds for a massive illegal market.

The capitalization of illegal drugs is nothing new, and adding a drug to the already extensive list of illegal substances gives it a price and a demand. Increasing criminal charges on drugs only increases the demand, therefore increasing the amount that drug is used. In 2001, Portugal had one of the largest drug problems in Europe, and it had reached such an alarming point that a radical change in legislation was made. All drugs that were previously illegal were decriminalized. Instead of arresting individuals possessing drugs, a large-scale health campaign was launched. Instead of imprisonment, one with a relatively small amount of drugs was referred to medical facilities and rehabilitation clinics.

The Failure of Anti-Drug Programs

Drug use was no longer perceived as a crime but as a disease that could be cured. This change in mentality had drastic effects; the amount of people who tried drugs and kept using them fell from 44% to 28% by 2012, and H.I.V. infections and overdose rates decreased drastically (Nutshell, 2018). If the public views the use of a drug, or drugs in general, with a negative mindset, the population is predisposed to rebel against that mentality. However, when viewed with a more positive mindset, it is evident that drug use decreases. Inversely, the D.A.R.E. program was a widely used effort to spread the message that drugs are terrible things and that individuals should never try them. The program was geared towards Middle and High School students in an attempt to instill a fear of drugs at a young age. However, a study published in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency on the D.A.R.E. program and its effects on underage drug use concluded that D.A.R.E. was ineffective and, in some suburban cases, led to an increase in drug use.

Marijuana is a complicated substance with a multitude of properties that have yet to be fully utilized. Along with medical implementation, recreational use of the substance yields a number of positive results. T.H.C. alters an individual’s brain chemistry slightly and produces many psychoactive effects. An individual under the influence of marijuana may experience altered senses (brighter colors), euphoria, and an altered sense of time (N.I.H. 2018). Dr. Lester Grinspoon, a professor at Harvard Medical School, stated that his personal recreational use of marijuana aided in developing personal insight increased his levels of creativity, and overall had been a beneficial tool in his life and career (Grinspoon, 2008). With a relatively low health risk compared to other legal substances and an enjoyable experience, as reported by users, the harsh criminalization of marijuana seems to only have impeded our knowledge of the substance and what it can be used for.


Ultimately, the stigmatization surrounding marijuana and the harsh criminalization of the substance were simply racist and political motives designed to imprison and destabilize ethnic and political groups. The D.E.A. classification, mandatory minimum laws, and harsh sentences for persons in possession of marijuana are not based in fact or on the health and safety of the population and contributed to a rise in marijuana use and potency. This stigmatization consequently impeded the use of the plant medically, and only recently has the stigma begun to go away. There is still a long way to go, however. Marijuana, like most drugs, does pose risks to a user’s health, but so do tobacco and alcohol, and to a greater extent. The choice to use marijuana should be up to the individual citizens, not the government, especially if the drug is being used as a political tool rather than a substance that can be studied and recreationally used.

Stop wasting your time searching for samples!
You can find a skilled professional who can write any paper for you.
Get unique paper