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Marijuana Case

Essay by   •  December 7, 2011  •  Essay  •  3,111 Words (13 Pages)  •  1,701 Views

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The opinion of Marijuana during the 70's was much more definitive than it is today. Approval of Marijuana by 27 states, new medical studies, and its consequences on those convicted from use of the most common illicit drug in the world, is forcing the United States of America to rethink its stance on the matter. In general, the underlying argument about Marijuana in this country is: should Marijuana continue to be prohibited to citizens based on its health effects, medicinal values, and costs to the country? The reasons why this argument is so important are great. As previously stated, Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the world, and with millions of people using it regularly and almost 100 million that have ever used it in this country, the laws behind this drug hold great influence. It is because of this and the immergence of new evidence, that the justification behind prohibition of this drug is being rethought scientifically, socially, and economically. The use of Marijuana as both medicine and a recreational drug is being thoroughly questioned in the US. 27 states have Marijuana approved in some form, many of those for medical purposes however those users can still, and do get placed into prison by federal law. Currently, 830, 00 people a year are in trouble with the law in regards to Marijuana and numbers seem to be on an uphill trend. Furthermore, the US invests 30 billion a year into the drug war, half of which is dedicated to Marijuana. Many are questioning its success all together. Both imprisonment and the war cost our country, and therefore our people, money. A change in laws is going to have a dramatic affect on America.

In 1965 President Johnson passed the drug abuse control amendment targeting all illicit drugs, and then in 1969 President Nixon declared an all out war on drugs and crime, giving birth to what would become the drug war we see today. In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical Marijuana, setting off a significant trend through the country. Today Marijuana is classified as a schedule I drug alongside Heroin, Cocaine, and Morphine, (this classification has been unchanged since the 1960's). It was classified as a schedule I drug despite the fact that it was recommended by the CSA (controlled substances act) task force to not place it in this class. While certain states in the US currently allow medicalMarijuana use, the Federal Government claims that their law overrules state law and therefore users of the medical Marijuana can be prosecuted.

Certain concepts need to be understood in order for the information presented to be interpreted properly. This argument covers legalization for medical and/or recreational use of Marijuana. This argument does not pertain to the legalization of all illegal drugs. This argument is not about Marijuana being healthy or good for anyone; however it is more focused towards its use in the medical field and its health effects in comparison to already legal substances. A few terms presented in the argument need to be understood. Marijuana is created when the leaves and female flowers of the hemp plant are dried, and it is commonly used but not limited to use in cigarette form. THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol is the primary intoxicant of marijuana. Aside from the technical, there are a few legal terms as well. When the term decriminalization is used, what is proposed is the elimination of criminal penalties for marijuana, meaning that in most cases possession (with certain restrictions) would be treated as a civil offense and maximum charges could be a fine of a few hundred dollars. Decriminalization insures no prison time or creation of a criminal record. Marijuana legalization is simply the complete government authorization of the substance. The Drug War is the resulting conflict between law enforcement and those who deal in illegal drugs.

There are three major topical issues in the argument over marijuana legalization. First, does possess medical value? Second, is Marijuana harmful enough to remain illegal and how does it compare to other legal illicit substances? And lastly, what is Marijuana's effect on our nation and how would legalization change this?

Of the three issues related to the Marijuana legalization debate, Marijuana and its medical use might be the most widely discussed of them all. Opponents of Medical Marijuana bring up many significant arguments as to why it should not be condoned. The American Medical Association in 2001 stated that Marijuana should remain a schedule 1 drug, primarily basing their decision on the fact that they do not believe it has any medical value and that it has "no accepted medical use" and possesses a "high potential for abuse". The FDA has a specific process in which the joint medical and scientific communities conduct certain procedures to determine whether drugs can be considered safe and effective as medicine, and Marijuana has not been approved by this process. The government also insists that Marijuana supporters are using the medical Marijuana "angle" as a ploy to get the whole drug legalized for recreational use, a valid point that definitely stirs up some question. Also, the countries that permit the drug to be used medicinally have not produced conclusive research on Marijuana's applications in medicine.

Opponents also justify Marijuana's prohibition with the decision that if the FDA hasn't approved it, it must be too dangerous to use. They also emphasize the fact that they believe that Marinol, a synthetic form of THC, can be used as an alternative to Marijuana and make the whole plant unnecessary. After all, certain studies did show that smoking five joints of Marijuana a week may be equivalent to smoking a full pack of cigarettes daily, in terms of the amount of cancer causing chemical Marijuana contains.

Opponents against Marijuana legalization for all purposes believe that it is harmful to the users and therefore should remain illegal. One of the most famous points made by prohibitionists is that Marijuana is a gateway drug and leads to harder drugs. They also argue that Marijuana contains up to 25% of THC today, compared to a miniscule 3% in the 1960s. This clearly indicates an increased potency in the intoxicating chemical. It has been scientifically proven that THC is stored in body fat, so some believe that it is possible that regular smokers could have enough stored in their system to be "sedated" at all times. There was a test conducted by a Dr. Robert Heath on monkeys that revealed THC inMarijuana caused that serious brain damage. Opponents also claim that long-term use has shown changes in the brain similar to those seen from other drugs. Alterations in nerve cells have indicated an affect towards the subject's motivation, which could possibly explain one of the commonly used arguments against

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