The topic in today’s society that I chose to investigate

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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The topic in today's society that I chose to investigate was should marijuana be legal or not. There are many views on this topic; some people feel it should be totally illegal, some feel certain uses of marijuana should make it legal, and others feel it should be legal for every day use. Every side of the argument has a lot of good information that backs up their opinion, but I don't see this argument coming to an end any time soon. The way I see it, marijuana should be legal for people who want to use it responsibly, but criminalized for other reasons. And when it comes to medical uses, it sounds like there are some possible good effects from the leading chemical delta-9 tetrahydrocannibinol or more commonly known as THC. Throughout my paper, ill discuss arguments from both people who want it legal and illegal, as well as an in depth view of what I see about the topic.

Ill give you some background information on the drug as well as some interesting facts about marijuana you might find surprising. I have also reported on case studies that show real life people who use marijuana medicinally, and hear how they feel about it and how it affects their lives. First of all, ill give you a short description of the drug and the background so you know what to base your final opinion on.

Marijuana is a plant that is grown all over the world as long as the area gets enough sunlight and moisture. It is a plant that can reach anywhere from 4-6 feet tall, and it has many clusters of leaves which most people are familiar with.. The actual valuable part of the plant is the bud or flower, which can be found on top of the leaves. The buds are normally a greenish gray color mixture, all combined with seeds and stems. This is what is picked and sold all over the world, and because of this market, the United States has to spend millions of dollars to try to stop it. Most people smoke this drug to get high; others can use it as an ingredient in baked goods to get the same feeling. The leading chemical like I said earlier is THC, and that releases the endorphins inside your body that give you the extremely happy feeling. The high can last up to 2-4 hours, and the marijuana being smoked today is a lot more potent and harmful to the body than it has been in the past. In fact, because it is hazardous to your health, many people feel it should be illegal.

A lot of good arguments and facts come up when people say marijuana should be illegal. The main argument is marijuana is a serious health risk to you and the people around you. It also leads to increased accidents of all types, lost production on the job, and wrecked families. When the drug is smoked, you inhale over 400 harmful chemicals into your body, which exceeds tobacco smoke. In fact, it turns out that smoking 1 joint is just as harmful to your body as smoking 4 cigarettes. With all the chemicals people believe that smoking marijuana is a cause of cancer, and in fact THC chemicals eat away at the lining of human lungs. Because of this, people who smoke marijuana are more likely to form lung cancer Along with the fact it can lead to cancer, users often experience the same breathing problems, and are more prone to develop chest colds and pneumonia as tobacco smokers are. And tobacco smoke has been proven to lead to Lung Cancer as well. Aside from all the health issues, another good argument for criminalized marijuana is that it is a gateway drug. Long term studies of high school students and their patterns in drug use show that the use of cocaine is 104 times greater for those who have tried marijuana than for those who have not.

That translates to kids who buy marijuana are introduced to drug dealers. Drug dealers then introduce them to the harsher drugs and the chances of the user experimenting skyrocket. Whenever debating the legalization of marijuana, medicinal uses always seem to come up. The National Institute of Health concluded that marijuana can be in fact psychologically addicting, and compared to the pot being smoked in the 60's much more potent and harmful to the body. Because of this, they classify marijuana as a schedule I drug that has no proven medical usage, and any amount is considered illegal. Doctors' say all marijuana does is create a distraction inside the body, which temporarily takes the patients mind off the pain and nausea. It really doesn't do anything for the user except put them into a different state of mind, which in turn does not lead to any curing of the sickness. If that is in fact true, then any argument saying marijuana should be legal for medicinal purposes is irrevalent. Along with all that, an experiment was done in California during the 70's where marijuana was legalized, and the usage rates rose 5 %. Studies show that after using marijuana, people often become extremely lackadaisical and the memory is affected. As a result of this, people are losing production on the job, and the society is afraid that if the drug is legalized, and the usage rates rise, more people will be getting this lackadaisical feeling, and the families of this person will be wrecked. It will most likely lead to job loss, which in turn leads to many problems in it self. This also poses a huge threat to the youth of our society because studies show students who smoke the drug cut class and steal more often than those who don't.

That about sums up all the arguments I found for legalizing marijuana, now ill touch on the other side of the debate, and inform you on their opinions and ideas.Statistics show that over 76 million Americans have admitted to trying the drug in their lifetime, and as time goes on, the 1st usage ages are getting lower. In a recent pole, 27% of all 8th graders have tried the drug at least once in their lives, 42% of 10th graders have used it, and nearly half of all twelfth have experimented with the drug. Because of the fact marijuana has been part of so many people's lives, the question isn't "Should marijuana be legalized?" it's "Why should marijuana be illegal?"The first argument that always comes up in the legalization debate is that marijuana has many medical uses. I know I stated before that it is proven to have none, but I found studies that seem pretty convincing in showing people did actually benefit from using the drug to help their disease. For instance, tests have shown that people weak from aids and anorexia benefited from the drug to help gain weight. Cancer patients can also use it to relieve nausea from chemotherapy and doctors have prescribed it to help aid symptoms of epilepsy, arthritis, migraines and glaucoma. Synthetic forms of THC have been produced in pills such as marinol, yet they prove un-effective because the substitute made the patients fall asleep before they began to start eating, which was the whole point of taking the pill. So that basically adds up to marijuana cannot be substituted, and if in fact THC can reduce these symptoms I have discussed, it should be legal in our society. In fact, I found case studies from New Mexico where 250 patients were given THC capsules vs. smoking marijuana to treat symptoms of certain diseases. The study concluded that over 90% of the patients who received marijuana reported significant or total relief from nausea and vomiting, and it was clearly better than the capsules. A similar study was performed in Michigan where 71% of the patients who received marijuana reported nausea went away, and 22 of 23 patients preferred marijuana to synthetic forms of THC. Side effects of the studies were raised appetite, which was beneficial to AIDS patients, and increased sleepiness that is beneficial to people with sleeping disorders. I also found a story of a man who literally depended on marijuana to live. His name is Peter McWilliams, a 50-year-old man living in California, who was arrested by the police for growing marijuana. He was taken to court, and the judge would not let him plead his defense. Instead of being put in jail, he was put on parole where he was routinely given urine tests to make sure he was staying off marijuana. Peter was a successful man in life, and people were said to describe him as humorous, sassy, and giving. Unfortunately, Peter had AIDS, and to substitute the relief from THC, he was given, the synthetic form of THC, yet he said it only worked 1/3 of the time, and it simply wouldn't cut it. One night, Peter was in his bathtub when he started to vomit profusely. After struggling for air, Peter died from choking on his vomit. It was stated that if Peter had been able to smoke marijuana, it would have prevented this death.

Therefore, here is a real life example of where marijuana needed to be legal for Peter McWilliams to live. The judge would not listen to Peter's defense, and with the lack of THC, Peter ended his life. People also like to compare marijuana use to tobacco and alcohol use. A good point for pro-marijuana is you cannot overdose on the drug, whereas alcohol deals with people drinking too much and in some cases dieing of alcohol poisoning. And marijuana is proven not to be physically addictive, as where smoking cigarettes have nicotine in them that is proven addictive. However, you can buy both cigarettes and beer at any local gas station as long as you are of legal age. That raises many arguments because our country is based on the fact that you make your own decisions, and here we can buy some products that cause an equally harmful affect on your body as marijuana, yet buying marijuana is a crime.Another good argument for pro-marijuana is the prohibition of the drug has raised a black market. This means people need to sneak around the legal system to make their money. If the government would legalize the drug, they would not have to spend millions on trying to stop the smuggling of the drug and in turn they could tax it and make money on the situation. This is somewhat ironic because prohibition might not be the answer to stop marijuana use. In the Netherlands, marijuana has been legal for a number of years. People in Amsterdam can buy pot in a coffee stand, yet they rank lower than the US in overall percentage of people who have tried the drug, in every age group. I also found that the age of first time users in the US is lower than Amsterdam, and fewer kids move on to harsher drugs. Maybe prohibition isn't the answer to solving the drug problem, and if it were legal, it is possible usage rates would actually go down. Plus, because there are no safeguards on the drug, the government cant monitor what enters the boarders. Therefore, people don't know what is on the drug they are smoking which raises a serious health concern. Because so many people use this drug, the government could watch what enters the borders and make sure no harmful chemicals come with the drug. So because smuggling is an illegal act, our jails are over crowded and violent criminals are released before originally planned.

Statistics show that police arrest 5 times as many non-violent drug offenders than they convict for manslaughter. Forty-Six % of all drug arrests are due to marijuana which means they release other convicted criminals before their time is up to make room in the jail cells. The people who feel marijuana should be legal see the drug as a non-violent way to take a break from reality. It doesn't hurt anyone around them and they will say it doesn't affect them in their every day lives. It's a natural thing in our society, and to criminalize it is against our rights.The way I see it, marijuana should be legal in our country. Cigarettes cause cancer, have harmful chemicals in them, and have been proven physically addictive. Marijuana has not. Alcohol poisons your body and has health risks of overdosing that can lead to death. There are no known cases of people dieing from smoking too much marijuana. However you can legally purchase both if you are legal age, yet marijuana is still illegal. I say put age restrictions on marijuana and have it legal to our citizens.As far as medical usages, it sounds like the drug has positive effects with certain illnesses, so why take something away that is helping people who are suffering. I don't think the government is being very fair when it comes to certain people who smoke marijuana. Some of the diseases people use the drug for have no known cures, and there is no way to treat the symptoms. If a person has no chance of living, and marijuana helps them ease the suffering, the government needs to realize that and let them smoke as they please. The story about Peter is a great example because here we had a man who needed the drug to survive, but because the fact the government did not open their eyes, he was forced to stop and he ended up dieing. If it helps them feel better in their life, I don't see the justice of keeping it illegal. If a person wants to use marijuana in his/her own personal household, where no one else comes in contact with it, then it should be legal. If a person is smoking a joint in a downtown area, and people are at risk of inhaling the second hand smoke, I say the person should be up for criminal arrest. I don't see the problem because our country is based on being able to make your own decisions, no matter what the consequences are, and illegal marijuana takes that right away. However, if the use of marijuana is putting others in danger such as a high driver, then the user should be treated in the same ways with drinking and driving. I personally don't think that our society would change much with the legalization of marijuana; it would just reduce the risk in smoking in safe environments. I actually think kids today smoke marijuana just to rebel against their family or whatever else. They all have a lot of stress in their lives, and many are always dealing with punishment from their elders. So in a way to deal with strict parents, kids smoke. Legalizing marijuana would take that element of rebelling away, and eventually I think the usage rates will drop. As far as calling marijuana a gateway drug, I actually believe that is somewhat true. Many of the people start using marijuana to experience new things. After doing the drug for a while, the high becomes less intense, and you get used to functioning under the influence. Because the feeling gets old, kids want to experiment with new drugs, just like they did with marijuana. Thus the circle starts all over. However, that is not true is all cases. For some people I think smoking marijuana is just a phase in their lives. Live life to the fullest, and try new things when you're young. That is the opinion of many kids, and they feel when it is time in their life to start getting a career in order, they no it is time to stop using the drug. So in that perspective, I think the government is over reacting and if they let young people experiment and have fun with beer, they should reconsider marijuana. The only thing that raises a problem with my phase theory is that the more a user smokes the drug, the more dependant they become. And the more dependant people become, the harder the drug will be to stop. That makes me realize that marijuana has been proven not to be physically addictive, but it seems to be very strongly mentally addictive. If marijuana is mentally addictive, I think that gives the government a strong side to keep it illegal. To add another side to this argument, I thought it would be beneficial to a reader to see how authority enforcement figures feel about abusers of the drug marijuana. I interviewed a campus security guard and asked him questions about the drug. I wont go through all the question and answers, but he felt very strongly that marijuana is being abused on Iowa's campus. He made it clear that the department of Public Safety takes the issue of marijuana very seriously, and if it ever comes to an arrest with possession, they show no leniency. He said it not only puts the user in general, but it can possibly put other people around them in danger. Safety of the students is most important, and he wanted to keep the streets as safe as possible. Another figure I asked was the hall coordinator of the currier dorm on how he views the subject of marijuana and his views are very similar as the police officers. He said that they know what goes around the campus, and it scares him that students bring illegal possessions inside the dorms. He quoted it was unfortunate that we cant do enough to rid the drug usage from our campus, but if the incident arises where a student abuses the drug inside the dorm, he will go to the full extent until the student is no longer allowed on Dorm property. I don't see this argument coming to an end any time soon. There are so many views and side's people take on this controversy, a single decision will never be reached. If the government has marijuana illegal to get rid of the drug problem, they are in a dead end situation. Think about it, there is such a high demand in this country for marijuana; people will always want to buy and sell it to make money. If a farmer can grow marijuana and get $70,000 for a bushel, next to only a few dollars a bushel for corn, which one are they going to pick? The answer is obvious and it is stupid for the government to spend millions to try to stop the drug problem, when it is so big, they will never be able to fix it entirely. When it comes to health risks, smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol have proven harmful affects on the body. I don't see the government's point on saying marijuana should be illegal because it is harmful to your body when we already have cigarettes and beer. However, I do say if a user is affecting another person whether he/she is inhaling second hand smoke or driving in the next lane to a high driver, then it should be criminalized. Marijuana is a natural thing and it should be allowed in this country as long as people decide top use it responsibly.



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