To understand the Issue of medical marijuana or casual marijuana usage the background of marijuana or cannabis needs to be understood. After doing research I feel that medical marijuana should be kept illegal and out of the hands of the public because of the harm it could cause, the fact it could be a ‘gateway drug’ and the fact it won’t solve it being misused.
The drug commonly known as marijuana comes from the Cannabis plant. The Cannabis plant has a long history with humanity. It has been found in areas “where prehistoric hunters and gatherers lived, to ancient China and Viking ships.” On top of that, it has seen a variety of uses throughout human history. The Cannabis plant originated from Asia thousands of years ago. Over time as it, usage became more common and widespread. This eventually caused it to spread around the world and somewhat recently reach the United States. In pre-modern times Cannabis “was widely used for medicine and spiritual purposes … For example, the Vikings and medieval Germans used cannabis for relieving pain during childbirth and for toothaches.” Cannabis like most organisms has different subspecies. One of the subspecies by the scientific name of Cannabis sativa is what we would commonly call as marijuana today. This subspecies has the “psychoactive properties” that affect Homo sapiens when ingested as a food, smoke or used in some other way. Another Subspecies is the Cannabis sativa L otherwise known as hemp. This subspecies lacks any psychoactive properties and is often used in “manufacturing products such as oil, cloth, and fuel.” The L at the end of Cannabis sativa L was added to honor Car Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, who has discovered the plant. Some other species of Cannabis include Cannabis ruderalis, a strain that has lower THC, which is native to Russia and Eastern Europe. Another species is the hotly debated species Cannabis indica. The reason why Cannabis indica is so hotly debated is that while Cannabis indica is used like Hemp by providing fiber and oil it produces a large amount of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, which then make it useful to be used as a drug.
Cannabis is believed to come from the “steppes of Central Asia, specifically in the regions that are now Mongolia and southern Siberia.” Evidence of Cannabis has also been found dating back to 3000 B.C. in the area known today as Siberia, and in “some of the tombs of noble people buried in Xinjiang region of China and Siberia around 2500 B.C.” This gives credence that Cannabis and its use have been around for a long time. Cannabis in both is psychoactive and non-psychoactive strands “were used widely in ancient China.” During this time period, one way it was used was to serve as “an anesthetic during surgery.” This was probably due to the fact that THC attaches to receptors in the brain that deal with “thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination, and perception.” THC also stimulates the brain to release dopamine, this causes a feeling a happiness or lightness, which can be called euphoria. Basically THC in the Cannabis plants functions as a form of anesthetic. In most modern surgeries doctors use anesthetics to help the patient not feel pain from the surgery so it can be completed easier and faster. Cannabis was eventually brought to Korea by coastal farmers at around 2000 B.C. then “Cannabis came to the South Asian subcontinent between 2000 B.C. and 1000 B.C. when the region was invaded by the Aryans.” From there it reached India and was celebrated as five kingdoms of herbs … which release us from anxiety.” This again was probably due to due to THC which causes a feeling of euphoria or a ‘high’ in those that use it. At some point between 2000 B.C. and 1400 B.C., Cannabis reached the Middle East and then later “into southeast Russia and Ukraine.” After that, The Germans got their hands on it and took it westward. Then during the 5th century, it reached Britain under the Anglo-Saxon invasions. During the next few centuries, Cannabis reached Africa, and then South America in the 19th century (the 1800’s). Finally during the beginning 20th century (the 1900’s) “immigrants fleeing that country during the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1911” brought Cannabis to the United States.
Soon after Cannabis brought to the United States it was banned and made illegal due to “anti-Mexican xenophobia” and the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906. The Pure Food and Drug Act “included cannabis among the various substances patent medicine companies were required to list on their labels in order that worried customers could avoid it.” This was just the start of the banning of the Cannabis plant. “Then, between 1914 and 1925, twenty-six states passed laws prohibiting the plant.” With Utah being the first in 1915. By 1931 three more states had also banned Cannabis bringing the total up to 29. The anti-Cannabis/marijuana trend continued for a few decades, but it started dying out as it got closer to the next century. By the 1970s attitudes were becoming laxer about recreational marijuana usage. This was partly due to the fact that many college students starting smoking marijuana in the 1960s. Because of many college students and some of “America’s best and brightest for what increasing seemed like a trivial offense.” Following this ongoing trend, the American public gradually got used to the “increasing prevalence” of drugs and drug use in American Society. Eventually, this reached a watershed in 2014. At the beginning of 2014 Colorado “became the first state to permit marijuana dispensaries to sell pot for recreational use.” This was surprising as the United States government still considered recreational marijuana use to be illegal. Soon after this several other states passed laws legalizing recreational marijuana. Currently, as of the end of 2018, a total of ten states and Washington D.C. permit both recreation and medical marijuana and thirty-three states support medical marijuana. The ten states that support recreational marijuana are Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Alaska, Michigan, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine and lastly Washington D.C. Now one of the main issues is to get the national government to legalize marijuana. As most states have already legalized marijuana in some shape or form it would make sense if both the state governments and the national government got along or shared the same stance on an issue, as to not divide the nation and its people.
Marijuana should not be legalized because of the effects it has on the human body. As I mention earlier Cannabis that is used in marijuana has a chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. When Cannabis is ingested or smoked a variety of side effects occur some of them include altered sense of time and color, changes in mood or mood swings, impaired or reduced body movement, difficulty with basic problem solving or critical thinking, reduced memory and memory recollection, and hallucinations, delusions, and psychosis when marijuana is taken in high doses. Also when THC interacts with the brain it released dopamine. The Human body normally controls the levels of dopamine and keeps it a regular level, except for extraneous circumstances like depression. So when someone smokes or uses marijuana they throw their bodies or brains chemically out of balance. Also when someone experiences a ‘high’ over and over. Over time the amount needed to reach the same high gets high and higher as the brain gets more out of balance. Also when someone smokes marijuana and breathes in the smoke they can cause or are causing damage to their lungs. It is common knowledge that people who smoke cigarettes cause damage to their lungs and can end up with lung cancer. Though the damage might not be as bad due to the fact cigarettes have more chemicals in them than just plain cannabis. Cannabis still contains a decent amount of chemicals. Whichever way you look at it breathing in the fumes/smoke of something that is burning is not healthy at all. Another thing to consider is how dangerous are drivers that are driving high. According to the CDC. “Every day, 29 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver.” Marijuana, when smoked, can also cause someone to be impaired. This can be just as dangerous as a drunk driver. With impaired motor skills and a reduced reaction time accidents are more likely to happen if a driver is under the influence be it alcohol or marijuana.
Marijuana can be considered a gateway drug. While the “use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are likely to come before use of other drugs.” Studies with animals have shown that “early exposure to addictive substances, including THC, may change how the brain responds to other drugs.” Studies have shown that nicotine is addictive. So if someone who smokes or uses marijuana decides to try another drug they would be more likely to become addicted to that substance. Sometimes it only takes one try of something to become addicted to it. Teenagers are also at an impressionable age. The decisions they make now will affect them for the rest of their lives. If marijuana become legalized it will become more socially acceptable to use it in society, and since marijuana is a gateway drug it will lead to more people going on to use other drugs such as heroin. Also if more people smoke marijuana breathing in second-hand smoke will be much more likely and it could cause public health problems. This is true especially for people who have trouble breathing or people with conditions like asthma that could be aggravated due to the increase in smoke pollution. The main point here is that the effects of THC and other chemicals in marijuana last a long time in the body and if combined with other drugs can lead to further addictions and or problems for the user.
Some people might argue that marijuana should be legalized because it would “reduce harm,” “create jobs,” “save money,” and “promote consumer safety.” During the prohibition when alcohol was Illegal people made money off selling it illegally. So while making marijuana legal would be a decent source of income as the United States will be able to tax any and all marijuana that is grown. It still would not get rid of illegal markets where people can buy other drugs in combination with marijuana. People could also get jobs by growing and selling marijuana those people need would to be trained and be trustworthy to not abuse their jobs/positions. Lastly, by making marijuana more available by legalizing it and making it easily accessible you can run the risk of people abusing it. People still abuse alcohol even though it is still legal to purchase and drink after all. This would negate the effects of trying to reduce harm and promoting customer safety. Also since Amsterdam has legalized weed they have had multiple problems. For example, they had to ban smoking in schools because students were showing up to school high. Crime has also gone up around Coffee shops that sell cannabis. So legalizing Marijuana could cause an increase in crime and not reduce harm as people would steal from shops that would sell it.
Overall legalizing marijuana for recreation use for the public would cause a whole host of problems while only solving a few. The risk of the health of the public, the health of the user, misuse of the drug and the possibility that it could lead to other types of drugs being used. Greatly outweigh the benefits of legalizing marijuana for public consumption. Until scientists can find ways to limit the negative outcomes or effectively harness the positives of marijuana and those that use marijuana can learn to express self-control over its use I do not see the point in a plant or drug that can have such a large and negative impact on the human mind being available for the public to use at their own especially when it has so many long and short-term side effects that can cause massive problems in certain scenarios.