From political debates to arguments over morality, the legalization of marijuana in America has been a ceaseless battle. With all of the poking and prodding amongst the issue, the process is finally seeing gradual results among some states. Marijuana should not be defined as an illicit substance, nor should it be frowned upon as it provides many benefits to a society.
It is entirely imperative to recognize the nature of this issue starting with its roots. While it is common knowledge that alcohol was banned during the inaugural years of the 20th century, few understand the controversy and struggle behind the illicitness of marijuana. According to authors and researchers Kimberly A. Houser and Robert E. Rosacker, marijuana was prohibited in the 18th Amendment along with alcohol. However, after the the 21st Amendment was introduced, no substance outlined in the 18th was considered unitarily legal. Rather, the states would focus on this issue as they deemed fit. This allowed for the legalization of alcohol to gradually propel itself back into the prominence of American culture. Why we have seen such an insufficient amount of support for marijuana in the same sense is due to the Federal Government’s meddling. In 1937, Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act in effort to collect revenue from a substance that was not nationally legalized. It would later be considered unconstitutional in 1969 (Houser and Rosacker). Many may ask why then would such a substance be illicit?
The truth of the matter is that the effects which marijuana may impose on the health and well-being of an individual are not a significant threat, contrary to popular belief. While some forms of mental health issues may arise from repetitive use of the substance, the risks of tobacco and alcohol far outweigh any comparisons. No single person has been directly documented as dying due to a result of smoking cannabis. Yet, tobacco is known to lead directly to various forms of cancer, and alcohol is linked to alcoholism (Hall). Understandably, marijuana is not an entirely safe substance as users may suffer effects such as psychological disorders. However, if two substances which are far more inhibiting on individual and public health are legal, why should marijuana be exempt from that group? The answer is simple: it shouldn’t be. If America is truly the land of the free, why should the government place restrictions on a mere plant? If citizens are permitted to risk their lives by entering the military, and simply contribute to the government through taxes and faithful stewardship, then those same citizens should have a say over what they intake into their bodies. It is necessary to note that drugs which are lethally detrimental to human health on a consistent basis, such as methamphetamine or heroin, should remain outlawed as they will cause irreversible damage in many more cases than modest substances. Marijuana should be legalized recreationally.
Aside from the recreational use that marijuana provides, the substance itself is used to aid those with specialized medical conditions. The Harvard Men’s Health Watch, a branch of medical publishing from Harvard University’s medical school, touches on this in a few regards. While pop-culture attempts to paint marijuana as a viable option to directly cure those affected by severe conditions, it is entirely far from factual reality. Instead, what marijuana is useful for is still impactful. Marijuana has been shown to ease pain, and aid conditions such as epilepsy and ALS. It is due to these scientific findings that many states have raised support for medical marijuana, and ultimately instituted it for health purposes. Harvard’s Men’s Health goes on to state that the appeal to medical marijuana is lucrative not only to its ability to aid in various circumstances, but also by its fluidity to be taken into the human body. This allows for optimality among a user-to-user basis. Medical marijuana provides substantial aid to individuals afflicted with disorders and ailments which require the easing of pain (Johnson-Sasso, Tompkins, Kao and Walker).
The legal benefits should be factored into the advocation of marijuana as well. The government would profit significantly off of legalizing marijuana as now it would then be properly regulated and taxed. Besides this, many inmates within the United States are incarcerated due to victimless crimes such as possession or distribution of marijuana (McCrary). By enforcing governmental regulations on the permitted substance, the drug can be ensured to be taken lawfully and safely.
All arguments in support for the legalization of marijuana in a recreational and medical sense aside, it is important to understand the adversary point of view. Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that inhibits the human state of mind. It may cause health issues such as being dependent on the substance, limiting lung functionality, regressing the development of the brain, becoming prone to psychosis, as well as a variety of other issues (Janine V. Olthuis and Raymond M. Klein). The concerns surrounding the plant are very much real, and should be considered in its legal contention. As well as the detriments caused by the drug, illegal drug trafficking could actually increase by lowering the price of cannabis in response to dispensaries. These concerns, while may be considered drastic, must be factored in to the legalization of marijuana.
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