Substance abuse has been a concern in most countries, especially in the US due to the negative effects of such drugs on the health of the users. Thus the governments in a bid to reduce the social costs that are associated with the use of such drugs usually enforce strict rules and regulations. This enables them to discourage the use of undesired drugs. However, the drugs also have some benefits to society. For example, marijuana has medicinal benefits to users (Reinarman & Cohen, 2004). This has led to the debate on which drugs should be legalized and which ones should be prohibited. This paper will focus on the debate on the legalization of marijuana.
Arguments against Legalization
The legalization of marijuana has always been opposed due to the following reasons. First, those who are against the legalization of marijuana argue that it is a gateway drug (MacCoun & Reuter, 2001). Thus its legalization will lead to a rise in the consumption of drugs such as alcohol which are used with it. Second, they argue that the use of drugs has negative effects on the health of the users.
This is because it can cause diseases such as mental illnesses and conditions such as lack of concentration (Joffe & Yancy, 2004). Third, the legalization of the drug has always been opposed because its usage leads to behavior disorders (MacCoun & Reuter, 2001). Thus the intoxication associated with it can lead to cases of crime and violence. Finally, the legalization of marijuana has been opposed on the ground that quitting its usage is very difficult.
Thus it is likely to have long-term effects on the users and society. Besides, commercial production of the drag will enhance its availability to adolescents. This is based on the fact that the minors are likely to access it through their parents or get influenced to use it due to commercial adverts and sales campaigns. To avoid these consequences, those who oppose the use of the drag have proposed tough regulatory policies to curb its usage.
Arguments in Favor of Legalization
Those who support the legalization of marijuana have always backed their arguments for the following reasons. First, it has been proved that marijuana has medicinal benefits (Wingfield & Scheck, 2010). This means that it can be used to treat diseases such as anorexia and nausea. Second, they argue that the drug control policies have generally failed and thus legalizing marijuana will help in reducing the criminal activities that are associated with its acquisition.
This is because, despite its prohibition, the citizens still find and use marijuana (Joffe & Yancy, 2004). Third, the social costs of using marijuana in terms of expenditure, mortality, and morbidity are considered to be lower as compared to other drugs such as tobacco and alcohol. This makes marijuana a better alternative as compared to other drugs. Finally, legalizing the drug will improve the financial situation of the country through the taxations that are associated with its production (Wingfield & Scheck, 2010). These benefits have prompted those who support the use of the drug to push the government to decriminalize it.
Personal Opinion on Legalization of Marijuana
In my opinion, I do believe that marijuana should be legalized and my stance has been informed by the following reasons. First, marijuana should be legalized at least on medical grounds since it has been empirically proved that it has therapeutic effects. Besides, an overdose of the drug can not lead to death and this makes it a very safe medicinal drug that will help in improving the health of the citizens (Wingfield & Scheck, 2010). Second, the premise that consistent use of the drag will lead to negative health effects on the users is void. This is because research indicates that consistent users of marijuana develop their etiquette in terms of personal norms and values regarding the use of the drug (Reinarman & Cohen, 2004).
This means that the users have a mechanism for controlling their use of the drug and this helps them to avoid the negative health effects of the drug. Besides, the citizens can always be educated by the government and the producers of the drug on responsible consumption as is the case with other drugs such as tobacco and alcohol. It has also been proven that the users tend to reduce the frequency at which they use the drug over time. This finding counters the belief that quitting the use of marijuana is very difficult.
Forth, research indicates that users will always access the drug and consume it even though it is prohibited (Reinarman & Cohen, 2004). Thus the criminals who sell the drug illegally enjoy financial benefits from the illegal trade. By legalizing marijuana, the government will enjoy more tax income due to the production of the drug. Besides, the government will make huge savings by eliminating the costs associated with arresting and punishing marijuana offenders.
The use of marijuana by teenagers can always be managed through appropriate legislation. Laws can be enacted to guide the production and consumption of the drug. Such laws will define who can buy the drug, where it can be sold, and the penalties that will be used on those who violate the regulations. Finally, the belief that the legalization of marijuana will increase its availability and usage especially by adolescents is not valid. This is because research findings on the use of the drug show that the level of its availability and the age at which users begin to consume it is the same between countries that criminalize it and those that have decriminalized it (Reinarman & Cohen, 2004).
In conclusion, the above analysis shows that marijuana has several benefits as discussed above. The policies that have been used to discourage its use have also failed since its usage is still popular despite its criminalization (Joffe & Yancy, 2004). It is also possible to manage the negative effects that are associated with marijuana. This means that it is not as dangerous as believed by those who oppose its use. Thus the use of marijuana should be legalized in society.
Joffe, A., & Yancy, S. (2004). Legalization of marijuana: potential impacts on youth. Pediatrics, vol. 113 (6), 632-638.
MacCoun, R., & Reuter, P. (2001). Evaluating alternative cannabis regimes. The British Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 178 (2), 123-128.
Reinarman, C., & Cohen, P. (2004). The limited relevance of drug policies: cannabis in Amsterdam and San Francisco. American Journal of of Public Health, vol. 94 (5), 836-842.
Wingfield, N., & Scheck, J. (2010). Push for loose pot laws gain momentum. Web.