Marijuana Essay Research Paper Case for Legalizing

Marijuana Essay, Research Paper Case for Legalizing Marijuana What is Marijuana? Marijuana, a drug obtained from dried and crumpled parts of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. Smoked by rolling in tobacco paper or placing in a pipe. It is also consumed worldwide by an estimated 200,000,000 persons for pleasure, an escape from reality, or relaxation.

Marijuana Essay, Research Paper

Case for Legalizing Marijuana What is Marijuana? Marijuana, a drug obtained from dried and crumpled parts of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. Smoked by rolling in tobacco paper or placing in a pipe. It is also consumed worldwide by an estimated 200,000,000 persons for pleasure, an escape from reality, or relaxation. Marijuana is known by a variety of names that in the United States, marijuana is called pot, grass, weed, Mary Jane, bones, etc. The main active principle of cannabis is THC. The potency of its various forms ranges from a weak drink consumed in India to the highly potent hashish. Marijuana is not a narcotic and is not mentally or physically addicting drug. One can use marijuana in small amounts for years without physical or mental deterioration. Marijuana acts as an euphoriant. Only once in a while will it produce actual hallucinations. Some who smoke marijuana feel no effects; others feel relaxed and sociable, Characteristically, those under the influence of marijuana show incoordination and impaired ability to perform skilled acts. Although marijuana is not addicting, it may be habituating. The individual may become psychologically rather than physically dependent on the drug.(1) The Case for Legalizing Marijuana Use The United States stands apart from many nations in its deep respect for the individual. The strong belief in personal freedom appears early in the nation’s history. The Declaration of Independence speaks of every citizen’s right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Constitution and Bill of Rights go further, making specific guarantees. They forbid the government to make unwarranted entry into dwelling places. They forbid seizure of personal property, except when the courts approve very clear reasons. They allow every citizen to remain silent in court when accused of a crime. Legal decisions have extended these rights, so that every citizen may feel safe, secure, and sheltered from public view in the privacy of his or her home. The Right to Privacy In recent years, Americans have referred to privacy as one of the basic human rights, something to be claimed by anyone, anywhere. United States citizens feel strongly about this and often tell other countries that they must honor their people’s claims to privacy and personal freedom. Foreign leaders(2) often disagree. They resent what they deem arrogant meddling by the United States. If the United States is to be persuasive in promoting freedom in other parts of the world, it must respect the privacy of its own citizens. According to U.S. traditions, there is a strong case to be made against legislating the private behavior of adults, so long people feel that this reasoning should hold also for marijuana. A person who smokes at home is not doing injury. The marijuana user is indulging in a minor pleasure over which that government should have no jurisdiction. It is quite clear from survey data that most people do not become physically dependent on marijuana. The majority use it as others use alcohol – to relax occasionally and to indulge a festive mood. How can a mild intoxicant, taken less than once a day by most users, be seen as a public threat? Even those who are “hooked”, should not be penalized by the law. Some people find any compulsive and unproductive behavior disgusting. But that is not a reason for outlawing it. Consider eating, many people develop compulsive habits about food. This may be unattractive. It certainly is not productive and it can be harmful if the “food addict” is over weight. But there are no laws to prevent food addiction. If Congress tried to forbid the eating of ice cream sundaes or cotton candy, many people would be outraged. The same sort of argument is raised by some people with respect to marijuana. (3)Even compulsive marijuana smoking by an adult is not so offensive that it injured neighbors or requires government intervention. The attempt to use the law to tell people what they may and may not consume at home is an arrogant invasion of personal privacy. Protecting the Drug User’s Physical Health sometimes it is said that the law must protect the drug user from himself. The argument takes two forms. One has to do with the damage a drug may do to a person’s health and the other with the individual’s power of self-control or freedom. First consider the health effects. By anyreasonable standard, marijuana is a mild drug and as for overdosing, there is no valid evidence of anyone dying of an overdose of marijuana smoke. But it is possible to die by eating too much salt. Salt is not illegal. Aspirin kills by overdose and that’s legal. Many people die by drinking too much alcohol, an addictive drug. It too is legal. Why is marijuana considered more dangerous? The Failure of Prohibition Examining the U.S. policy on marijuana on the basis of performance, one must judge it a failure. The number of(4)people who have smoked the drug at least once has grown from an uncounted few in the 1950s, when some of the strictest anti-marijuana laws were imposed, to nearly 50 million today. During this period the federal government has made steadily increasing efforts to stop its production and importation, the number of drug arrests in the United States has increased significantly. The federal budget for drug enforcement agencies have gone above $1 billion a year. And yet the illegal trade in marijuana continues. Supplies are so plentiful that the price has actually come down. The response has been to strengthen police efforts and hope that things will change. The result is that more money is spent on a failed policy, The illegal market for marijuana grows even faster than the police force, however, because the drug users are willing to pay more to get what they want than taxpayers are willing to pay to stop it. The drug police enjoy their work and are not going to quit. And why should they as long as their salaries are paid? The admission that the

marijuana laws have failed will have to come from someone else- not from the police. Marijuana is a common weed, easier to produce than the bathtub gin of the Prohibition years. It is not surprising that thousands of “dealers” have been drawn into the marijuana business. Despite the great risks they face, including bullying by other dealers and the threat of arrest, they are attracted by the profits. (5)The law cannot change the economics of this market because it operates outside the law. All the police can do is to make it risky to get into the marijuana business. This is supposed to drive out the less courageous dealers, reduce the amount of marijuana available, and inflate prices. But even by this measure, the police effort has failed. Some Benefits of Legalizing Marijuana By lifting the ban on marijuana use and treating it like other drugs such as tobacco and alcohol, the nation would gain immediate and long-term benefits. This change in the law would improve the quality of life for many people. Victims of glaucoma would find marijuana easily available. If the medical advantages that are claimed for marijuana are real, many more patients would benefit. Research, which has been slowed in the past by the government’s reluctance to grant exemptions to the marijuana laws, would be easier to conduct. Doctors could get on with investigating marijuana’s medical uses with out fear of controversy. It might become possible to discuss the dangers of marijuana use without getting caught up in a policy debate. Meanwhile, the black market would disappear overnight.(6)Some arrangement would be made to license the production of marijuana cigarettes. Thousands of dealers would be put out of business, and a secret part of the economy would come into the open. Lastly, the federal budget would benefit in two ways, Federal revenues would increase, because marijuana cigarettes would be taxed at the point of sale. The companies that make the cigarettes would also pay income taxes. Second, there would be a reduction in the amount spent on law enforcement efforts to apprehend users and sellers of marijuana. The drug enforcement authorities might reduce their budget requests, or, more likely, focus more intensely on hard drugs and violent crimes. The courts would be relieved of hearing some drug cases, as well.. The pattern of law enforcement, which now treats marijuana as more dangerous than alcohol, would end. It would set more achievable goals for law enforcement, and this would lend strength to the government. —Alcohol vs. Marijuana 1: Over 100 thousand deaths annually are directly linked to acute alcohol poisoning. 2: In 4,000 years of recorded history, no one has ever died from a pot overdose. 3: Alcohol causes Server physical and psychology dependence. 4:Alcohol is reported to cause temporary and permanent damage to all major organs of the body.(7)5: Cannabis is a much less violent provoking substance then alcohol. * With over 60 million people using cannabis in the U.S. Today our laws and lawmakers should view it under the same light. As they do alcohol. Marijuana Status 1990: 11% of high school seniors said they were using marijuana every day. 1991: About 27% said they hadused marijuana sometime in the previous month. 1991: The monthly users grew up to 37% then in 1995 dropped to 23%.1991: 12 to 17 year olds reported using it within the last month has dropped from a high point of 17% and in 1996 dropped to12%. (8) Bibliography 1. Adams, Leon; “Marijuana”. Encyclopedia International. Vol 11.p365-347. LEXICON PUBLICATIONS. Philippines, 1979 2. Lorimer, Lawrence; “Marijuana” Encyclopedia Year Book 1993. p214-215. GROLIER INCORPORATED. Canada, 1993 3. Snyder, Solomon. The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Drugs. Series 2. LEGALIZATION: A DEBATE. CHELSEA HOUSE PUBLISHERS. New York, 1988 4.Aylesworth,Thomas; Marijuana information http://www.erols.com/taylesworth/ 10/12/98 5.Olsen,Carl E. Marijuana archives http://www.mojo.calyx.net/`olsen/ !0/13/98 (9)

31a