Legalization of Marijuana Term Paper

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Legalization of Marijuana

Marijuana or Cannabis is actually a plant, which has the scientific name 'cannabis sativa' and was originally used for ordinary purposes such as for fabric making and cloth weaving. Some are of the view that it was also used as sails when shipping industry had not become technologically sophisticated. The plant was also once used for the treatment of psychiatric conditions but after it was banned in the country, marijuana was forced to vanish from the medical field too.

Marijuana became a problem when people started using it as a drug in the form of powder. This is because marijuana affects chemical processes in the brain and puts a person in a state of elation. But all this is temporary and a person becomes so addicted to this drug that he cannot stay away from it. The dangerous impact on marijuana on the brain is also evident from the fact that drugs users lose conscious control over their bodies and minds during the state of elation and this often leads to improper behavior. Marijuana laws in the United States are very strict but some are of the view that it is more because of political reasons that actual harmful effects of this drug. But the truth of the matter is that marijuana does alter brain chemistry in its users, which can often force them to indulge in uncharacteristic behavior.

HARRY J. ANSLINGER, Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Narcotics, says, "How many murders, suicides, robberies, criminal assaults, holdups, burglaries and deeds of maniacal insanity it causes each year, especially among the young, can only be conjectured... No one knows, when he places a marijuana cigarette to his lips, whether he will become a joyous reveler in a musical heaven, a mad insensate, a calm philosopher, or a murderer..." (1)

In short, while it may relax people and help them unwind, the drug has psychoactive properties and thus cannot and should not be legalized. Marijuana is believed to have many medical uses too, for example, there was time when doctors were openly using the drug for epilepsy treatment. The reason why it can effectively treat the symptoms of psychiatric disorders is because it alters brain chemistry and thus affects the nervous system, which can bring relief to patients who are suffering from flawed brain processing.

Richard Rudgley writes in The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substance (1998), "Although doctors used it in treating many disorders (ranging from epilepsy and hysteria to alcoholism and asthma) the demonisation of drugs that began with opium was soon to spread to other psychoactive substances, including cannabis...In 1915 California became the first state to make it illegal to possess cannabis. By the 1920s marijuana (called muggles or moota and later mezz, sassfras or tea; marijuana cigarettes or joints were known, as they still sometimes are, as reefers) had become a major 'underground drug'." (2)

There is an intense debate going on with regard to legalization of drugs. Like every controversial issue, legalization of marijuana has also attracted its fair share of pro and con arguments. Despite the popular belief that marijuana is a dangerous drug and has therefore been criminalized, it has been discovered that marijuana is less addictive than some other legal substances including alcohol and definitely doesn't increase criminal activity. Shafer Commission in 1970s set out to investigate the possible mental and physical effects of the use of marijuana and "found no convincing evidence that marijuana caused crime, insanity, sexual promiscuity, and a motivational syndrome, or that marijuana was a stepping stone to other drugs." (Zimmerman 7-8)

Apart from this, marijuana is also considered to have medical significance. After the ban was placed on the recreational use of this drug in 1937, some studies were conducted to discover if marijuana served any important medical purposes. And to the surprise of everyone, it was found that marijuana had a soothing effect and could ally pain. "During the 1970s, the medical benefits of marijuana were rediscovered when, in the early '70s, some young cancer patients receiving chemotherapy found that smoking marijuana relieved the nausea and vomiting associated with the cancer treatment." (Carol E. Rachal)

We must understand that to refuse use of a drug simply because it is often misused and abused is certainly an unethical action if it has been proved that it can be used for medical reasons.…[continue]

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