Legalize Marijuana Essay, Research Paper
The legalization of marijuana will reduce crime, narcotic drug use, and create a utopian society. Marijuana’s effect on society is greatly over exaggerated in that marijuana acts as a scapegoat for many of society’s problems. Marijuana is blamed today for being a gateway drug; this means that consumption of marijuana will lead to use of narcotic drugs, this claim has never been proven, the only grounds for it is that marijuana is a more widespread and more sampled drug. Furthermore, the legalization of marijuana would create potential tax revenue that would flow from a regulated market in marijuana.
Marijuana grows throughout temperate regions, with more potent varieties produced in dry, hot, upland climates. Marijuana is defined as a cannabis plant; and or a preparation made from the dried flower clusters and leaves of the cannabis plant, smoked or eaten to induce euphoria (”marijuana,” 827, Webster’s). Euphoria is a feeling of great happiness or well being (”euphoria,” 468).
Chronic marijuana users may develop a motivational syndrome characterized by passivity, decreased motivation, and preoccupation with taking drugs. The relationship of this syndrome to marijuana use, however, has not been established. Like alcohol intoxication, marijuana intoxication impairs judgment, comprehension, memory, speech, problem-solving ability, and reaction time. The effect of long-term use on the intellect is unknown. There is no evidence that marijuana induces or causes brain damage (”marijuana” 2, Microsoft).
The Drug Enforcement Agency estimates that we presently have 20 million regular users of marijuana in the United States (Heerema 130). The inclusion of drug users within society is in turn based on the premise that the desire to alter consciousness is a normal human trait, a drive as deep as the need for food, shelter and love (Siegel 1989). Humans perceive the use of marijuana to alter their state of consciousness as being a basic instinct that seems harmless and natural.
Prohibition creates crime; it does not solve crime. It creates a tension within society that society cannot long bear. However, because some members of society are more tolerant of drug use than others, the attempt at prohibition inevitably tears society apart. It seems to work, for a while, but sooner or later the prohibition approach becomes untenable if society is to grow rather than stagnate. In the long run, society gradually adapts to the changes made necessary by the failure of the War on Drugs; and the new drugs appear, and then the cycle starts over (Aldrich 548). Therefore, if society wants to continue to grow, we must allow its inhabitants to alter their state of consciousness by using marijuana.
A legal, regulated drug supply (as alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, and prescription drugs) encourages people both socially and personally to use the smallest dosage and the lowest potency that will be effective. It encourages normalization and control of drug use, and discourages abuse. It accepts a certain social cost in that the use of these drugs will cause problems for some members of society; but it does not deny that drug use is human, and instead works through the problems presented by drug use in such a way as to minimize their harm.
In exactly opposite fashion, the criminal approach to drug use encourages drug abuse, by attempting to cut off supply. This policy restriction makes the desired commodity scarce and difficult to obtain. In turn, the user wants as much as possible, in the highest possible potency, for hoarding as well as immediate use. This policy ignores the basic human urge to get high, discourages the controlled use of drugs, and offers no normal socialization, no internal or external controls, and no possibility of harm reduction. It puts even the casual or experimental user into the illicit drug subculture where abuse is more likely; and any attempt to encourage self-control, that is, showing people how to use drugs intelligently and in the least harmful way, is seen as condoning abuse (Weil and Rosen 1983). Therefore, the illicit drug scene, created by drug prohibition laws, encourages high-dose, high-potency drug seeking, and discourages moderation and self-regulation.
The process of dilution is possible when drugs are legally regulated; but not when they are criminally distributed. In fact, dilution of strength is the basis for mass marketing of legal drugs; it could be the basis for regulation of marijuana. Temperance means using drugs moderately, intelligently and safely, rather than in the addictive fashion promoted by drug prohibition.
By replacing the War on Drugs with a policy of normalization and social acceptance, including de facto legalization of marijuana, the Dutch have made credible drug education possible. Instead of kicking kids who use drugs out of school, they have instituted a “healthy living” curriculum starting in elementary grades that objectively outlines the pleasures, as well as the dangers of drug use. Here again, the results have been positive. The average age of addicts has risen from twenty-six in 1984 to thirty-one in 1989, indicating that very few users are being added to society (Tempest 1989). This example of what has been going on in Amsterdam is a clear example of what can happen in the United States. The legalization of marijuana can be good for the war on drugs, providing that proper education is provided.
In the name of sustaining the drug war, we are taught that marijuana is lethal, a carcinogenic and addictive. While marijuana has its risks, especially for children, none of this is true. Neither is it true that marijuana has no accepted medical use; in 1991, almost half the oncologists who answered a Harvard Medical School Survey said they would prescribe marijuana for relief of chemotherapy side effects were it legal, and most had already recommended it to their patients (Baum, 132).
Soon the United States will change, instead of condemning all the drugs that are now defined as illicit, distinctions will be made between those drugs presenting a social problem and those determined to be victimless, such as marijuana. While they will never probably be totally acceptable, drugs like marijuana will be seen as less threatening, less destructive, and less evil. Marijuana use will come to be seen as a victimless activity. This change in attitude will lead to intensified pressure to legalize the use of marijuana. The reasoning would be: If our citizens want to consume it, and it only harms them marginally, why deny their right to do so when all we are doing is creating a huge illicit industry and a large new criminal population. Thus, early in the 2000s I expect to witness the formal legalization of marijuana; and the reduction of crime, narcotic drugs use, and a more peaceful utopian society.
Aldrich, M. “Legalize the lesser to minimize the greater: Modern application of ancient wisdom.” Journal of Drug Issues. Fall 1990, Vol. 20 Issue 4: 543-554
Baum, Don. The War on Drugs: Opposing Views. Greenhaven Press, Sand, 1998
Burnet, J. Early Geek Philosophy. New York. Meridian World, 1957.
“Euphoria.” Webster’s New World Dictionary. Third College Edition. 1988.
Heerema, Douglas L. “Drug use in the 1990’s.” Business Horizons. Jan/Feb 1990, Vol. 33: 127-135.
“Marijuana.” Webster’s New World Dictionary. Third College Edition. 1988.
“Marijuana.” Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 99. CD- ROM. Berger: Microsoft, 1999.
Siegel, R.K. Intoxication: Life in Pursuit of Artificial Paradise. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1989.
Tempest, R. Amsterdam’s War on Drugs. San Francisco Chronicle, October 4, 1989.
Weil, A and W. Rosen. Chocolate to Morphine: Understanding Mind-Active Drugs. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983.