Legalising marijuana use has long been a controversial debate worldwide. With recent legalisation in countries such as several states in the USA, as well as marijuana culture having grown, the push for marijuana legalisation has increased. To understand the debate, pros and cons of both sides of the argument are explored. Supporting the legalisation means to help dismantle the black market, which is an economy of transactions that involve illegal behaviours. The availability of marijuana also creates standards of quality, and users will be able to pick all types of strains that cater to their wants and needs. This includes medicinal cannabis, which help treat a wide array of untreatable conditions such as epilepsy and chronic pain. However, marijuana has long been considered a gateway drug, making a user more susceptible to trying other, possibly harder, drugs. Despite laws that prevent younger people than 18-21 to enter dispensaries, legalisation makes it easier to obtain marijuana for anyone in legalised areas. As countries start to move towards the legalisation of marijuana, the list of pros and cons grow as well; it’s a good idea to stay informed of both sides of the arguments regardless of whichever side an individual stands on.
In areas where marijuana is illegal, the only ways to find it is on the black market, whether that is online or in person through dealers. In high drug trafficking areas, dealers may be involved in organised crime which presents more problems for the country, police and can put users in danger when trying to purchase. Through legalisation, this puts these illegal markets out of business, and in some legalised areas there are now dispensaries where users can purchase their cannabis from. Sir William Patey, a former UK ambassador to Afghanistan, found that that illegal supply is inevitable – as drug culture evolves, there is always demand – therefore the alternative to take on was to limit demand for illicit drugs, which includes marijuana, by making a licit supply available from a legally regulated market rather than letting users run free in the black market. With legal suppliers around, marijuana purchases are regulated and taxed. In turn there is more assured safety for the user in terms of obtaining and consuming quality cannabis, and tax revenue is increased for the government.
Upon the legalisation of marijuana, cannabis dispensaries open. Users that meet the requirements are permitted to enter, choose and purchase among a variety of strains that cater towards different wants and needs. This includes medicinal cannabis, which are high in CBD (cannabidiol). Medicinal cannabis often works better than conventional medicines with people who have, sometimes lifetime, chronic and terminal illnesses such as epilepsy. It also helps relieve symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia. This improves public health and less is spent on the healthcare system, therefore resulting in more public funds being available for other needs such as schools, roads and other public safety expenses.
Marijuana has long been considered a gateway drug; once a person tries it, they are likely more susceptible to trying other drugs, most of which are likely more harder and addictive. Legalising marijuana would increase the number of individuals trying the drug, and those same people would become susceptible to move onto other drugs. There is also the concern that legalising marijuana can send out the wrong message to people who don’t take drugs; they are vulnerable to the idea of using drugs recreationally to escape, which potentially increases the risk of misusing drugs.
Despite the laws that only allow individuals over the age of 18-21 to be let into dispensaries, the messages that legalising marijuana send could be misinterpreted by teenagers and they become curious to try it out. If legalised, marijuana would be more easily acquired just the with help of an adult, and teenagers will be able to obtain the drug. Marijuana use is especially dangerous for young people, as the human brain is not fully developed until the age of 25. Studies have shown that cannabis users perform worse in school. Effects include impaired short-term memory loss, decreased concentration, attention span and problem solving and alterations in motor control, coordination and reaction times; all of which interfere with learning as well as everyday life.
Marijuana legalisation comes along with a list of its own pro and cons, which makes a controversial debate. The legalisation will help dismantle the black market, provide users with quality product and help in the healthcare system. However, it comes with its own risks; it’s known as a gateway drug and makes easier access for young people, putting their developing brains at risk. Despite the drawbacks of marijuana legalisation, governments and citizens are pushing for it, which makes it even more important that people are educated in both sides of the debate.