Legalization of Marijuana Term Paper

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Legalizing Marijuana

Any drug that alters the brain chemistry, impairs cognitive functions, and creates an addictive personality cannot be recommended as safe. While there is no suppressing the fact that controlling illegal marijuana use continues to be a financial and administrative bottleneck, they are overridden by the potential harmful health consequences of legalizing marijuana.

Marijuana has been in use for thousands of years for its medicinal properties. With the development of new synthetic drugs there was a gradual decline in its use from the early part of the 20th century. Today however, though illegal, it continues to be a widely used drug in the United States for both recreational and medicinal purposes. In the year 2000 alone there were more than 2.4 million new users of marijuana and the drug is supposedly consumed by more than 76% of all drug users. [NCADI] The comparatively safer and proven remedial properties of modern synthetic drugs have now sidelined the medical use of marijuana. Yet, we are still faced with the boiling controversy of legalizing marijuana for its medicinal values. While advocates for legalizing marijuana staunchly endorse its medicinal value and point out the high policing costs involved in controlling illegal trafficking of the drug, anti-marijuana group continue to express their concerns about the addictive and debilitating nature of the drug. The existing disparity of opinions on this issue requires a detailed introspection to arrive at a rightful stand.

Medicinal Value (Pro's and Cons)

There is no denying the fact that marijuana is useful as a good appetizer, as an anti-emetic for post chemotherapy patients, and for patients suffering from glaucoma due to its intra-ocular pressure reducing properties. However, we have many pharmacological products that are effective for the above conditions without the inherent risk for addiction and without having to expose patients to potential health hazards. The FDA has even approved a synthetic form of THC named Marinol especially for convalescent cancer patients, which does not carry the risks associated with smoking crude marijuana. [DEA]

Smoked Marijuana contains more than 400 chemical substances of which around 60 are clearly identified to be carcinogenic. The THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main psychoactive ingredient in the drug that gives the sense of relaxation and the euphoric feeling. Since smoking tobacco is a known and accepted causative agent for lung and throat cancers, it automatically follows that marijuana which shares most of the carcinogens present in tobacco is also carcinogenic. [David Evans]. Pro-marijuana group point out the lack of conclusive evidence linking marijuana to lung and throat cancer, which however is a flawed approach. The lack of conclusive evidence is to be attributed to the illegal nature of the drug and the consequent difficulties in obtaining research subjects and not due to harmless nature of the drug. Further the lessons from the past should serve to caution our lenient attitude with marijuana. As Dr. Richard Russell, a respiratory specialist from the British Lung foundation says, "What we really want to avoid is the situation we had in the 1930s, '40s and '50s with cigarettes, where doctors were recommending tobacco as being good for you" [Alan Freeman]

Studies conducted in Netherlands have claimed a positive relation between smoking cannabis and early onset of psychotic symptoms among schizophrenics. The results from the study that observed 133 patients has indicated that those who had the habit of smoking cannabis were an average of 6.9 years younger in terms of the onset of first psychotic symptoms. [Natalie] This result confirms an old research study, which also showed a worsening of psychotic symptoms in schizophrenic patients with the intake of marijuana. [DA Treffert]

Effects on the Immune System

The immune system is our main line defense against opportunistic infections. Though direct human studies are yet to provide clear-cut evidence for any serious compromise of the immune system, animal and laboratory tests do…

Sources Used in Document:


1) Edward A. Jacobs, "Legalization of Marijuana: Potential Impact on Youth,"

PEDIATRICS Vol. 113 No. 6 June 2004, pp. 1825-1826

2) Wayne Hall, Louisa Degenhardt and Michael Lynskey, "The Health and Psychological Effects of Cannabis Use," Chapter 5, Monograph Series No 44, 2nd Edition,

Accessed on March 24th 2005,

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