The Cons Of Marijuana Usage Essay, Research Paper
The Cons of Marijuana Usage
Argument against the legalization of marijuna
The legalization of marijuana is one of the most highly debated about subjects facing Americans today. Advocates of legalization use two major arguments in their effort to have marijuana legalized. First, which is by far the biggest argument is that marijuana has a significant medical use. The second argument is that marijuana does not cause harm to those that smoke it. Both of these arguments can be easily discounted by the numerous studies that have been done on the effects of marijuana both medicinal and recreational. In the following paragraphs we will explore the hard facts of marijuana that will discount the validity of the previously mentioned arguments as well as some common fallacies. I will focus first on the medical fallacy.
There currently exists a great debate concerning smoking marijuana as a medicine. Many well-intentioned leaders and members of the public have been led misled by the well-financed and organized pro-drug legalization lobby into believing there is merit to their argument that smoking marijuana is a safe and effective medicine. A review of the scientific research, expert medical testimony, and government agency findings shows this to be erroneous. There is no justification for using marijuana as a medicine.
The movement to legitimize smoking marijuana as a medicine is not encouraged by the Federal Food and Drug Administration, health and medical associations, or medical experts; but instead by groups such as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and the Drug Policy Foundation (DPF). These organizations have little medical expertise and favor various forms of legalizing illicit drugs.
The studies cited by the marijuana advocates have been found to be unscientific, poorly researched, and involved pharmaceutical THC, not marijuana. An advocate that claimed he was an expert, testified at the 1987 federal hearings to reschedule marijuana, was in fact a wellness counselor at a health spa who admitted under oath to using every illegal mind-altering drug he ever studied. Another “expert” admitted he had not kept up with new medical or scientific information on marijuana for over 18 years. Another doctor claimed there was voluminous medical research on the effectiveness of marijuana but under oath, when asked to cite the number of the studies, he replied, “I would doubt very few.” The fact is that there is not one reliable scientific study that shows smoking marijuana to be a safe and effective drug.
The majority of the marijuana advocates’ “evidence” comes from unscientific, non-scrutinized or analyzed anecdotal statements from people with a variety of illnesses. It is unknown whether these individuals used marijuana prior to their illness or are using marijuana in combination with other medicines. It is also unknown whether they have had recent medical examinations, are justifying their use of marijuana, experiencing a placebo effect, or experiencing the intoxicating effect of smoking marijuana.
The main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana (THC) is already legally available in pharmaceutical capsule form by prescription from medical doctors. This drug, Marinol, is less often prescribed because of the potential adverse effects, and there are more effective new medicines currently available. Marinol differs from the crude plant marijuana because it consists of one pure, well-studied, FDA-approved pharmaceutical in stable known dosages. Marijuana is an unstable mixture of over 400 chemicals including many toxic psychoactive chemicals, which are largely unstudied and appear in uncontrolled strengths.
The manufacturers of Marinol, Roxane Laboratories Incorporated, do not agree with the pro-marijuana advocates that THC is safe and harmless. In the Physician’s Desk Reference, a good portion of the description of Marinol includes warnings about the adverse effects.
Seriously, doesn t common sense dictate that it is not good medical practice to allow a substance to be used as a medicine if that product is ingested by smoking, not FDA-approved, made up of hundreds of different chemicals, and self-prescribed and administered by the patient.
The federal government, over the last 20 years involving a number of administrations from both political parties, has determined that smoking marijuana has no redeeming medicinal value, and is in fact harmful to health. These governmental agencies include the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Public Health Service. Their latest finding, as recently as 1994, was affirmed in a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC
Since the pro-marijuana lobby has been unsuccessful in dealing with the federal government, they have targeted state and local governments to legitimize smoking marijuana as a medicine. A careful examination of their legislative and/or ballot proposals reveals they are written to effectively neutralize the enforcement of most marijuana laws. Crude, intoxicating marijuana under their proposals would be easier to obtain and use than even the most harmless, low-level prescription drug.
Major medical and health organizations, as well as the vast majority of nationally recognized expert medical doctors, scientists and researchers, have not accepted smoking marijuana as a safe and effective medicine. These organizations include: the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, National Sclerosis Association, the American Glaucoma Association, American Academy of Ophthalmology, National Eye Institute, National Cancer Institute, National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institute of Dental Research, and the National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
There are thousands of studies available documenting the harmful physical and psychological effects of smoking marijuana. The harmful consequences include but are not limited to premature cancer, addiction, coordination and perception impairment, a number of mental disorders including depression, hostility and increased aggressiveness, general apathy, memory loss, reproductive disabilities, impairment to the immune system, numerous airway injuries, and other general problems associated with intoxication.
So far I have shown why marijuana should be disregarded as medicinal now I intend to discount some more common fallacies that marijuana advocates like to throw around as well as the argument that marijuana causes no harm to the smoker.
First, advocates for marijuana like to say laws against alcohol and drugs don t work so why have them. They often use prohibition in the early 1900 s as an example. Even though prohibition was unpopular and only in effect for about fourteen years, it did impact the use of alcohol. Alcohol use, alcohol-related deaths, and admissions to hospitals for other alcohol related illnesses were all reduced approximately 50 percent. Also, contrary to what you hear, there’s no evidence of a big increase in crime. That probably makes for good gangster movies, but little else. Prohibition was rescinded because alcohol historically had been part of our lives, and the majority didn t support prohibition. Drugs, on the other hand, have not been part of our everyday lives, and over 80 percent of Americans favor drug prohibition
A second fallacy is that legalizing marijuana would reduce the number of crimes and would free up prison space for more violent offenders. First of all there are 12 million arrests made annually out of which 1 million are for drug violations, of these only 12 percent are sentenced to prison. Most of the criminals that are locked up already have rap sheets a mile long for different crimes anyways. Now if we legalize marijuana the arrests would stop because of the change in the criminal code but the criminals wouldn t change their behavior and become law-abiding citizens. They will continue to commit crimes to pay rent, buy cars, go to concerts, buy clothes, eat, and buy legal drugs.
Thirdly, most advocates like to use the Netherlands as an example of marijuana being legalized and not having any problems. The Netherlands has begun experiencing a variety of problems including a rise in crime, welfare, unemployment, and addicts from other countries migrating there to indulge their drug appetites.
A fourth common fallacy is that if we legalize marijuana we would save at least 20 billion dollars annually that is now used towards law enforcement. What this fallacy assumes is that there would be no governmental costs associated with distribution, regulation, and control of legal drugs. Using alcohol as a model, we know these costs can be substantial. Knowing government, there is very little they do that is cost effective. In 1965, when we started Medicare, Congress projected that it would cost this country $12 billion by 1990. The actual costs that year were $110 billion. In 1968 food stamps cost $173 million annually, and now, less than 30 years later, the price tag is $24 billion.
And, finally the greatest fallacy that marijuana does not harm the user. The fact remains that marijuana and hashish are intoxicating substances that make the user high. The degree of mental and physical impairment depends on the amount and strength of marijuana smoked. There is a substantial difference between the 2 to 5 percent THC weed of the ’70s and the 10 to 20 percent THC in today’s weed. There is a definite reason why the higher grade is more desirable and expensive, and that’s simply because it gives the user a more powerful high. Studies show marijuana can and often does cause apathy, diminishes mental capacity, causes difficulty in concentrating, decline in performance, and lost motivation. Thousands of studies also show marijuana use adversely affects the brain, reproduction process, immune system, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, and remains in the body for extended periods of time. In addition, marijuana use often impairs normal thought processes, distorts reality, reduces self-control, and releases inhibitions, all of which increase the chance of harmful and criminal behavior. Many times the user is unaware he or she is being affected unless told by others. A Stanford Medical School study showed pilots to be impaired 24 hours after smoking one joint, even though they felt they were functioning normally.
In conclusion, the bottom line is, whenever persons are under the influence, they pose a threat to themselves and others. We don’t need more intoxicated people on our streets, at public events, or driving on our highways. Traffic fatality studies clearly demonstrate a disproportionate number of deaths caused by drivers under the influence of marijuana. Why would we want to make a substance like that legal, inexpensive and readily available to satisfy he desires of a few who already choose to violate our laws? Haven’t the advocates learned anything from our experience with drunkenness?