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Should marijuana be legalized? Although there continues to be much debate around this subject, there is an unusual amount of contradicting research. Here is a sample argumentative essay containing arguments for and against legalization of marijuana.
Marijuana Legalization Essay Sample
Legalization of marijuana has been the subject of controversial discussions among public health and criminal justice professionals. The result of these debates is a growing body of research that supports as well as opposes the legalization of the drug whether for recreational or medicinal purposes. In addition to disproving and advocating the medicinal value of the drug, researchers have also examined the issues arising from its legalization among selected states in the U.S. In recent years, a number of states in the country have enacted laws that legalize marijuana for medicinal and therapeutic purposes, prompting a renewed public and political interest in the drug’s legalization. This paper examines evidence of the positive impact of legalizing marijuana in all the states in America.
The first argument supporting marijuana legalization is the fact that even though the drug has a mind-altering effect, its consumption is less hazardous than the consumption of other legal substances such as alcohol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the annual deaths in the U.S. caused by alcohol consumption is approximately 37,000. On the other hand, the agency does not have any figures of any specific deaths directly resulting from marijuana use. It is however established that while alcohol is among the leading toxic drugs, marijuana is among the least toxic ones (Caulkins, Lee & Kasunic 23). Moreover, marijuana use has been noted to positively result in a reduction of heavy alcohol consumption, traffic deaths, and substance abuse particularly among the youth, thus generating positive public health benefits.
A second argument for why marijuana should be legalized is that illegalization of the drug acts as a trap for young adults, imprisoning them in a defective system and ultimately transforming them into lifetime offenders. According to Barry, Hililamo and Glantz (212), many young people engage in marijuana trade as a source of income in order to pursue dreams such as going to college and eliminate poverty from their lives. Clearly, these youth do not indulge in such activities willingly; rather, they are forced by circumstances in their lives. Therefore, illegalizing marijuana not only contributes to the unemployment problem but also adds to the problem of youth offenders and recidivism. Notably, the incarceration of youths as a result of marijuana-related offenses ensures that they become lifetime offenders, whereby once they are released from prison they resume the activities due to school disruption and a felony record that bars them from accessing employment.
A third argument for marijuana legalization is for medicinal purposes. Marijuana should be legalized because it has numerous health benefits when used as a prescription. Precisely, recent research has concluded that the drug contains THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) – an active compound which has significant analgesic effects especially among cancer patients. Kleber and DuPont (570) enumerate some of the medical uses for marijuana, including: pain management particularly neuropathic pain and rheumatoid arthritis; relief for nausea linked to cancer chemotherapy; relief for AIDS or cancer related cachexia, and; relief for spasticity associated with neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis.
Further, proponents of marijuana legalization often state that making the drug legal would reduce illegal consumption and trade in it. However, anti-marijuana legalization groups refute this claim using the gambling analogy. Research has shown the decision to make the government as a beneficiary of gambling ensures that the government promoted gambling. However, this same decision subverted the government’s attention to the fact that gambling is a behavior problem. Moreover, the legalization of gambling has not in any way reduced illegal gambling across America. Instead, it has increased it. By the same token, legalizing marijuana would pave way for increased illegal marijuana trafficking, and by extension, other illegal substances (Kleber and Dupont 564-568). From the gambling precedent, it is clear that illegal drug traffickers would thrive by dealing in more potent marijuana products, avoiding legal channels of distribution that are taxed and subject to certain restrictions. Besides, already marijuana has an established black market network through which it is distributed. This will in turn limit the amount of tax that the government can ascribe to marijuana and its related products (Caulkins, Lee and Kasunic 4-34). As such, when marijuana bought from legalized dealers is overtaxed, user will almost automatically fall back on the black market to source the product.
Those against marijuana legalization also point out that legalization of the drug would attract negative social and developmental costs. It is expected that a large portion of new marijuana users would not be limited to adults as evidenced by the inability of alcohol and tobacco regulations to deter consumption among the youth (Lynne-Landsman, Livingston and Wagenaar 1505). Making marijuana use legal may open a new channel for drug misuse especially with more youths replacing alcohol abuse with marijuana consumption. According to Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, legalization of recreational marijuana is likely to augment such problems as heavy drinking, increased cases of driving while intoxicated, and an increase in the use of marijuana.
Another argument against the legalization is that those who are pro-legalization have not presented any scientifically-backed evidence of therapeutic benefit. Yet, they claim that marijuana is less of an intoxicant and more of a medicine (Berenson). As noted by Wilkinson (525), the U.S. subjects drugs to rigorous clinical tests and trials before making them commercially available for use. This serves to determine whether or not they are efficient and safe. It is concerning that there is limited data appraising marijuana as being effective in addressing such conditions as epilepsy and HIV/AIDS. This lack of evidence makes it a risky move to legalize the drug given its already proven negative effects on physical and mental health.
In conclusion, the current discussion centered on the issue of whether marijuana should be legalized is justified. Indeed, from the evidence presented, marijuana offers numerous benefits both recreationally and as a medicinal intervention. Noteworthy, the consumption of marijuana is not different from other mind-altering substances like alcohol and in fact, the drug appears to be much safer than these other substances. For medicinal purposes, marijuana has important benefits for users and its criminalization is an obstacle to patients who may benefit from the drug. However, numerous negative effects were also identified and this makes the decision to legalize the drug a complex one.
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute. “Learn about marijuana: science-based information for the public 2012.” 2012. 03 December 2015 <http://learnaboutmarijuanawa.org/factsheets/tobacco.htm>.
Barry, Rachel Ann, Heikki Hiilamo, and Stanton A. Glantz. “Waiting for the opportune moment: the tobacco industry and marijuana legalization.” Milbank Quarterly 92.2 (2014): 207-242. Web.
Berenson, Alex. “What advocates of legalizing pot don’t want you to know”. The New York Times, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/04/opinion/marijuana-pot-health-risks-legalization.html. Accessed 9 Nov 2019.
Caulkins, Jonathan P., Michael A. C. Lee, and Anna M. Kasunic. “Marijuana legalization: lessons from the 2012 state proposals.” World Medical & Health Policy 4.3-4 (2012): 4-34. Web.
Kleber, Herbert D., and Robert L. Dupont. “Physicians and medical marijuana.” American Journal of Psychiatry 169.6 (2012): 564-568. Web.
Lynne-Landsman, Sarah D., Melvin D. Livingston, and Alexander C. Wagenaar. “Effects of state medical marijuana laws on adolescent marijuana use.” American Journal of Public Health 103.8 (2013): 1500-1506. Web.
Mark Anderson, D., Benjamin Hansen, and Daniel I. Rees. “Medical marijuana laws, traffic fatalities, and alcohol consumption.” The Journal of Law and Economics 56.2 (2013): 333-369. Web.
White, Helene Raskin and David L. Rabiner. College drinking and drug use. New York: Guilford Press, 2011.
Wilkinson, Samuel T. “Medical and recreational marijuana: Commentary and review of the literature”. Missouri Medicine, vol. 110, no. 6, 2013, pp. 524-528.