By Jordan Fata
There is a growing debate over the legalization of a notorious green plant; marijuana. This schedule-1 narcotic, medically referred to as cannabis, has been discussed extensively concerning its legalization. There are many common misconceptions about marijuana and the possible potential benefits it could bring to society. Over the years, medical knowledge regarding the positive effects of marijuana has increased dramatically. The drug that once had a strong stigma encompassing it has recently become more accepted in society and in the medical world. There are many people that are against legalizing marijuana for a variety of reasons, which has slowed the research performed on the drug. Marijuana has been falsely labeled as a dangerous narcotic because of America’s history with Mexico. Marijuana should be legalized in the United States for the medicinal benefits, and the economic growth it will bring.
‘Future Miracle Cure? Maybe.’
The research and knowledge on the use of marijuana for medical purposes is increasing steadily. The two main chemicals of medical interest found in marijuana are THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabino) and CBD (cannabidiol). Studies have shown that these two main chemicals can help people suffering from numerous illnesses and serious health problems. THC has shown to help increase appetite for people that are experiencing extreme nausea such as cancer victims going through chemotherapy. It has also helped those that are suffering from HIV which causes extreme weight loss. THC in many instances has also decreased pain and swelling as well as muscle spasms. CBD is known to reduce pain, inflammation, and help control epileptic seizures. There is evidence to support the theory that THC can possibly treat mental illnesses as well as addiction. “More recently, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in laboratory dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer” (“Marijuana and Cancer”). Adults and children that suffer from epileptic seizures have searched for medical answers concerning the effect medical marijuana could have on their condition. “Individual reports of children with refractory (or intractable) epilepsy who have tried cannabis, usually with high ratios of cannabidiol to THC, have reported marked improvements in seizure frequency” (Sirven). Federal law states that possession of marijuana is illegal outside of the approved research facilities. Because of this factor, the studies that could be done to further medical researches knowledge are substantially slowed. The federal government’s cooperation for further studies for information on medical marijuana could change the lives of many people. In every legitimate study done on marijuana and the effects it has on people physically and mentally, it has shown to be an exceptional drug for those suffering from illnesses. In addition, it is impossible to overdose on marijuana as there have been no deaths linked to it. Unlike substances such as tobacco and alcohol that are legal in the United States and kill thousands of people per year (Gerber). The people that could be benefiting from the legalization of marijuana are unable to use it for their medical problems. For this reason, the illegal use of marijuana is extremely prevalent all across the United States. Citizens that are caught using marijuana for medical purposes are punished severely, even if they only possess minimal amounts. There have been many cases where extremely ill people have been sent to prison for long periods of time for using marijuana to ease their symptoms. By legalizing marijuana, many citizens of the United States will benefit from its medical purposes.
‘Development for the Economic Future’
Currently America’s federal debt is about $19,268,752,356,000, and by the end of 2016 the total government debt is estimated to reach about $22.4 trillion. The United States gross federal debts would decrease substantially if marijuana was legalized. In 2014 the state of Colorado legalized marijuana and currently has the fastest growing economy in the United States. Between January 2014 and October 2014, data released by the state Department of Revenue revealed that tax revenue from retail marijuana sales amounted to $40.9 million in Colorado (Status Report: Marijuana Legalization). States such as Colorado that have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use have benefited tremendously in several ways. For example, “since the first retail marijuana stores opened on January 1st, 2014, the state of Colorado has benefitted from a decrease in crime rates, a decrease in traffic fatalities, an increase in tax revenue and economic output from retail marijuana sales, and an increase in jobs” (Status Report: Marijuana Legalization 1).. Statistics have proven that violent and property burglary crime rates would drop significantly in most communities if marijuana was legalized. Contrary to the popular belief that legalization would initiate a rise in traffic fatalities, it has been shown to lower fatality numbers. A climax of tax revenues from marijuana sales would help reduce some of the debt America holds. Millions of people are searching for work unsuccessfully. The marijuana industry would be able to provide thousands of jobs in each state if it were to become legal. By legalizing marijuana, America would unequivocally benefit in a variety of ways.
‘In the Limelight’
Marijuana has not always been a scorned illegal substance put into the same category as other Schedule-1 narcotics such as heroin and cocaine. Between the years of 1600–1910, marijuana was highly encouraged. American production of hemp for the use of making clothes, sales, and rope was heavily supported by the federal government. In 1910, the Mexican revolution occurred and hundreds of immigrants came flooding into the United States. The people that came from Mexico brought with them the culture of recreational marijuana. There was a lot of fear and prejudice against the people of Mexico during that time. Marijuana soon “became associated with the immigrants, and the fear and prejudice about the Spanish-speaking newcomers became associated with marijuana. Anti-drug campaigners warned against the “Marijuana Menace” (“Marijuana Timeline”). People who feared the Mexican immigrants claimed that marijuana would cause violence, insanity, and sex crimes. Between 1920 and into the 1930’s great depression, American’s were increasingly angry at the immigrants that were coming over and taking their jobs. People started associating crimes with marijuana and the Mexican people that used it. The false prejudices that the people in the United States created about the immigrants from Mexico was the reason why by 1931 twenty nine states had outlawed marijuana. In 1944, reports were given that showed that marijuana did not make people become violent, insane, or dependent on other drugs. By the 1960’s marijuana became quite popular to the white upper class (“Marijuana Timeline”). As more and more research is conducted on marijuana, the results show that it has far more positive benefits to society than negative ones. Throughout history we have attempted to ban other far more dangerous substances such as alcohol during the prohibition. The attempt to ban alcohol turned out to be unsuccessful because people found other ways to access and consume alcohol. This same thing is currently happening again on the subject of marijuana. The conclusion is that the more knowledge we uncover about the plant, the more society realizes it was banned out of fear, not because it is a threat to society. Currently, America’s medical advancement is incomparable — technologically speaking. If given permission to freely engage in controlled experiments concerning marijuana and the effects it has on people, medical researchers could make groundbreaking discoveries. As more knowledge is gained on marijuana’s medical purposes, an increasing number of people suffering from severe illnesses will have the opportunity to receive some relief from their symptoms. By legalizing marijuana the medical benefits will not only be available to people that live in States where it is not considered a crime, but to every suffering human. In a time where America is suffering economically with its large amount of debt, legalizing marijuana would alleviate some of the financial struggles. The research that has repeatedly shown marijuana would increase not only the federal government’s financial situation, but also create jobs and lower the crime rates in America.
Chantrill, Christopher. “Federal Debt Clock.” U.S Government Debt. N.p., 14 Apr. 2016. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. <http://www.usgovernmentdebt.us/>.
Gerber, Rudolph J. Legalizing Marijuana: Drug Policy Reform and Prohibition Politics. Westport: Praeger Publishers, 2004. Print.
“Is Marijuana Medicine?” National Institute on Drug Abuse. N.p., July 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. <https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine>.
“Marijuana and Cancer.” American Cancer Society. N.p., Mar. 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. <http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/chemotherapyeffects/marijuana-and-cancer>.
“Marijuana Timeline.” Frontline. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2016. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/dope/etc/cron.html>.
Sirven, Joseph I. “Medical Marijuana and Epilepsy.” Epilepsy Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. <http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/treating-seizures-and-epilepsy/other-treatment-approaches/medical-marijuana-and-epilepsy>.
Status Report: Marijuana Legalization in Colorado After One Year of Retail Sales and Two Years of Decriminalization. New York: Drug Policy Alliance, n.d. PDF file.