No, the cost is too high
Any impediment to a harmful substance is a good thing. Keeping marijuana illegal keeps consumption lower than if it was legal, and puts barriers to the sale and access to this drug for teenagers. In support of legalization, the libertarian view is that individuals should be allowed to put whatever they want in their bodies and the liberal view is that the war on drugs has failed and that it has disproportionately impacted minorities. Either is not a sufficient argument to legalize a substance for recreational use that seriously impairs one’s judgment and health.
According to Drugfreeworld.org, “Marijuana smoke contains 50% to 70% more cancer-causing substances than tobacco smoke. One major research study reported that a single cannabis joint could cause as much damage to the lungs as up to five regular cigarettes smoked one after another. Long-time joint smokers often suffer from bronchitis, an inflammation of the respiratory tract.” Per a recent study by the International Journal of Drug Policy, “Marijuana use among United States high school students is likely to increase as the drug increasingly becomes more legally available.” Similarly, a Colorado State University study estimated that the legalization of pot in Colorado would add over 640,000 recreational users, not counting “marijuana tourists.” The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) warns that legalization would increase access to adolescents. Researchers at Columbia University found that drugs are playing an increasing role in fatal auto accidents—28% of those in 2010, with marijuana specifically contributing to 12% of that number, up from only 4% in 1999.
Some who advocate legalization have a misperception that our prisons are filled with pot offenders—a Caulkins and Sevigny study found that the percentage in prison for marijuana related offenses was a miniscule 1-2 percent of the population. Obviously, we want those intercepted to be offered treatment and rehabilitation, rather than incarceration.
President Carter got it correct when he said—“I do not favor legalization. We must do everything we can to discourage marijuana use, as we do now with tobacco. “We have to prevent making marijuana smoking from becoming attractive to young people, which is, I’m sure, what the producers of marijuana … are going to try and do.”
While some states like Colorado and Washington are starting a trend of legalizing marijuana hoping to use it as a cash cow to raise tax revenues, the greater good of society and future generations are sacrificed in the process.
There is not a libertarian, conservative or liberal reason to support the legalization of marijuana.
Rameysh Ramdas, an S.F. Bay Area professional, writes as a hobby.
Yes, it should be legalized
A Gallup Poll in late 2013 revealed that a majority of Americans (58%) are now in favor of legalizing marijuana. 23 states and DC have enacted laws to legalize marijuana, most recently, Maryland, Minnesota and New York and there are efforts in place to decriminalize the drug.
Marijuana use is not as harmful as it is made out to be. In fact tetrahydrocannabinol or THC contained in marijuana has been shown to have significant health benefits. CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, wrote in an article titled Why I Changed My Mind on Weed: “Medical marijuana is not new, and the medical community has been writing about it for a long time. There were in fact hundreds of journal articles, mostly documenting the benefits. Most of those papers, however, were written between the years 1840 and 1930. The papers described the use of medical marijuana to treat ‘neuralgia, convulsive disorders, emaciation,’ among other things.”
Certain formulations have been known to be one of the most effective cures for seizures. Medical marijuana helps as a sleep aid; helps combat nausea due to chemotherapy; and helps with muscle tension, spasms and chronic pain.
Further, marijuana is shown to be much less addictive than cigarettes or tobacco. A 2010 study by The Lancet indicated that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, cocaine, tobacco and amphetamine. If alcohol and tobacco are legal, then why shouldn’t marijuana be legal, given that it is less lethal, and less addictive? Indeed, there have been no deaths reported of marijuana overdose.
These factors have encouraged several states to legalize this drug. As the understanding of this drug expands the more harmful strains can be discouraged in favor of the less harmful or even beneficial strains. This can occur only if it is legalized and controlled.
The status quo is beneficial to drug traffickers and illegal growers. These illegal drugs find their way into the American market and poison our young. According to a recent report on NPR conservative estimates of illegal marijuana trafficking from Mexico run in the billions and account for over 20% of the overall illegal drug money that are going to Mexican warlords. Illicit growers in the country at a minimum are a severe drain on resources like water, energy, and take up a significant portion of the crime fighting resources of counties and cities. On occasion heat lamps used for illegal growing have known to cause forest fires.
For all these reasons legalization of marijuana at a minimum can reduce illegal cross border trafficking, reduce illicit pot farms and create a more effective and regulated market for meeting the obvious demand for this drug.
Mani Subramani works in the semi-conductor industry in Silicon Valley.