Analysis of the Arguments For and Against the Legalization of Cannabis

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The debate over legalization of Cannabis sativa, more commonly known as marijuana, has turned into one of the most raging controversies in American history. The legalization of marijuana is and always will be a very debated topic. Some say the negative short and long term effects of the drug have not been researched enough to make it safe for legal use. While others believe the drug does cause negative side effects but believe in the premise of “it is my body” so marijuana use should be alright. With all of the different viewpoints on the subject, proper judgement becomes cloudy. How should we as a society decide what is the moral solution to this problem we are facing? Whichever side makes the better argument will win this debate. Perhaps morality will not even matter if ulterior financial motives are taken. An analysis of the core of the marijuana debate will uncover which side makes the more reasonable claim.

But the Cannabis business industry really kicked off in the United States in 1996. California, under the push of activist Dennis Peron allowed, allowed the dispensation of weed to patients with HIV. For it was Peron himself who according to Dorm, “knew firsthand the positive role that medical Cannabis was playing in the lives of HIV patients.” (1) These original dispensaries offered a safe and welcoming environment for patients and caregivers. However, during this time the Clinton administration was fervidly against this structure. This explains the unwillingness of investors to make these cannabis dispensaries more widespread (Dorm 1). In the early 2000s the wild west of drugs began. These dispensaries became more unregulated and still growing quickly. While there were an estimated 1,000 legal cannabis dispensaries in Los Angeles by 1999, angst against the marijuana black market was increasing because nearly everyone could get marijuana if they wanted it (Dorm 2). In 2008, under the new president Barack Obama, Colorado voted for legal use of medical marijuana. And during an economic downturn, Denver particularly benefitted from the business of marijuana in the city ( Dorm 3). Seeing that Colorado seemingly had controlled the illegal side of marijuana, many other states followed suit with the legalization of medical marijuana. In 2012, Colorado and Washington voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Many Americans hail these efforts as the average citizen overcoming an oppressive U.S. government or a failed War on Drugs. This further sparked controversy. Some were unsure if this drug that was previously reserved for ill patients was safe for human consumption (Martin 1). Critics questioned the rapid rise of marijuana and disregard of research as either a humanitarian concern for suffering patients or the drive for loads of profit by startup Cannabis companies. Physicians warned that extensive research had not been performed with the recreational use marijuana. Advocates for marijuana pushed for more states to legalize the drug.

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Those who are pro-marijuana offer many thought-provoking reasons for legalizing the drug. Most common is the argument that tobacco and alcohol are far more destructive to us that weed (Head, 8). Indeed, it is said that alcohol is abused every second around the world and marijuana is the least harmful of all recreational drugs. Further, laws against alcohol and drugs stand on shaky ground in the eyes of the people. Does the government really know what is better for you more than you do? More practically, marijuana offers numerous health benefits. The drug has proven to slow down the growth of cancer cells (Kabir 1). This is huge considering cancer kills millions every year. It has also been shown to slow Alzheimer’s disease and relive arthritis. Both of these ailments cripple millions every year. In 2011, Harvard University found that marijuana use can decrease anxiety-, which is another increasingly common ailment (Kabir, 11). Other benefits of Cannabis include protecting the brain after stroke, reducing muscle spasms, and reducing severe pain.

Despite these discoveries for the uses of marijuana, those that against marijuana legalization offer viewpoints of their own. Most concerning is the use of weed as a teenager can seriously stunt the development of the brain (Cox, 3). Specifically, memory and learning areas of the brain are stunted with marijuana use. Long-term users report they sometimes have difficulty organizing their thoughts, thinking clearly, poor multi-tasking and slowed reaction times. Furthermore, marijuana use raises the heart rate 20 to 100 percent right after smoking (Cox 4). This drastic change to the heart is dangerous and increases the risk of irregular heart beat and heart attack. Also, it is widely thought that marijuana is not addictive. It is the least addictive of all the drugs, but many many users experience cravings, sleeplessness, decreased appetite and anxiety. As for long-term effects, not much is known concretely (Anderson, 7) Those in favor of the drug cite examples of past generations not suffering detectible long-term effects of marijuana. However, the weed from the hippie generation contained small amounts of THC. That is, the part of the weed that actually made one high is far less potent than weed now. Today, on average, weed is seven times more powerful than the early days of American use (Anderson 7).

From what science and data has gathered weed offers both promising health benefits and concerning side effects. From those within the health care department, optimism about the wondrous benefits of the drug collide with qualms about lack of research for such a drug millions are partaking in (Rappold 2). For a drug that still has many unknown qualities it seems interesting how the push for its legalization has taken off in recent years. Practical reasons , not moral ones, are likely the reason marijuana is becoming legal. Two underlying explanations possibly clear the picture.

Firstly, jobs in the marijuana business are booming. There are at least five trade schools for marijuana (Brodrick 2). Marijuana legalization created more than 18,000 full time employment openings in Colorado (Brodrick 2). However, there are still several limitations. The state charges nearly $20,000 as a startup, and that is just to make your weed legal. Growers are also faced with quite a hassle. Every marijuana plant has to be tracked through continual check-ups (Brodrick 2). These start up costs and time consuming tasks drive up the Cannabis price. The more cost-productive we make something legally, the more tempting it becomes to do it illegally. But the industry is still growing rapidly. Nevada estimates that 41,000 jobs will be open when marijuana becomes legalized.

While the employment section of the marijuana industry is growing rapidly, the strongest economic argument is that marijuana brings in loads of money. How much? Colorado, for example in 2015, earned more than $135 million in revenues and taxes (Cannabis Training University 3) By 2020, California is expected to earn a whopping $18 billion in total revenue and taxes. Simply, just like the alcohol prohibition, marijuana is being legalized to fill government coffers. What would happen if weed was legalized nationally? Well, 25.8 million Americans acknowledged using marijuana in 2017, according to a National Survey on Drug Use (Brodrick 3), and 15.2 million said they used marijuana in December 2017. The typical price for a gram of marijuana illegally is around $10 (Brodrick 3). If all of this was sold legally, pot could raise $40 billion to $100 billion in new tax revenue. The Marijuana Policy Project also estimates that the government would save $7.7 billion on anti-marijuana enforcement. So clearly the financial motivation for making weed legal is obvious.

Not everyone wants weed to be legal though. Pharmaceutical companies are at risk to lose billions. Even already, in now the 17 states with the medical marijuana law in effect, prescriptions for painkillers and other drugs dropped sharply compared to states that do not allow medical marijuana (Ingraham 1). The idea is pot is a more effective pain killer than powerful narcotics. Fearing the trend of declining profit will continue, pharmaceutical companies have lobbied federal agencies directly to block the liberalization of weed (Ingraham 2). These companies cite examples of marijuana as still being somewhat addictive in itself while some narcotics are not.

Both sides of the argument offer solid points. The strongest argument for marijuana legalization is the fact that an extraordinary amount of money would be brought in as a result of this. Further, advocates also argue that we have free choice to use the drug if we wish, and alcohol is more disastrous when abused so marijuana should be permitted just like alcohol was. On the other side, those against marijuana side with science which does not have much long term data on heavy marijuana use. This is why some states are still very cautious whether to make Cannabis legal. Just like alcohol probation in the past, marijuana will likely be completely legalized because so many people will be using it. The police will have more important things to take care of. The government will likely compromise also because of the large amounts of money they will receive because of marijuana taxes.

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Analysis of the Arguments For and Against the Legalization of Cannabis. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/analysis-of-the-arguments-for-and-against-the-legalization-of-cannabis/
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Analysis of the Arguments For and Against the Legalization of Cannabis [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2024 May 30]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/analysis-of-the-arguments-for-and-against-the-legalization-of-cannabis/
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