Marijuana has been one of the most researched drugs in the history of pharmacology, and there is still considerable disagreement about its short-term and long-term effects. It was made an illicit drug in the United States, and many states have established harsh penalties for those convicted of possession of even small amounts. In the recent years, there has been a move toward decriminalization of marijuana.
The purpose of this study is to show why marijuana should be legalized.
A. What is Marijuana?
Marijuana is the name given in the United States to the drug produced from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. The use of cannabis derivatives under such names as hashish, charas, bhang, and ganja is widespread throughout the world. The most active ingredient of the plant derivative is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The potency of this chemical is indicated by the fact that the average street sample of marijuana contains less than .5% THC. Some samples are considerably higher in THC content; thus, effects from the drug vary according to its quality, meaning its THC content. The flowering parts of the plant contain the greatest amounts of THC (Belenko, 2001). These are usually dried and smoked, but they may be made into a drink somewhat like tea or blended into various cooking recipes.
B. Why should it be legalized?
Marijuana is being used as legal medical therapy for several conditions. Careful studies have shown that it is effective in treating severe nausea in cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy. Older patients seem to respond less well than younger patients and complain more about side-effects, including feeling “stoned.” Researchers are continuing studies of marijuana’s possible usefulness in reducing pressure within the eye in glaucoma and in treating muscle spasticity (Earleywine, 2002).
Marijuana has been used for thousands of years, both as a medicine and for its intoxicating effects. In the form of tablets, marijuana is frequently prescribed to relieve the nausea and vomiting that often accompany chemotherapy. Its non-medical use, however, is illegal in the United States and most other countries. The penalties for possessing or using marijuana are, in many states, as severe as those imposed for the possession or use of much more potent drugs (Goode, 2000). Many argue that marijuana is no more harmful than cigarettes and liquor and should be legalized.
In conclusion, most people use marijuana for the altered states it produces. These states are a little easier to control than those produced by other hallucinogenic drugs, unless the dosage is very high. At low to moderate dosages, hallucinations are not present. Instead, the person typically reports of calmness, increased sensory awareness, changes in space and time, and increased appetite, often with a craving for sweets. Many researchers too have concluded that smoking marijuana is no more dangerous, and perhaps even less so, than smoking cigarettes or using alcohol.
1. Belenko, S. R. (2001). Drugs and Drug Policy in America: A Documentary History. Greenwood Press. Westport, CT. Pp. 34-67.
2. Earleywine, M. (2002). Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence. Oxford University Press. New York. Pp. 123-156.
3. Goode, E. (2000). Marijuana. Atherton. Chicago. Pp. 567-575.