Debate Paper Legalization of Marijuana Cannabis, also referred to as marijuana, is the third most popular recreational drug, behind only tobacco and alcohol, in the United States (Whitehouse. gov, 2013). Efforts to legalize marijuana as medicine and recreational use in the United States have grown exponentially in recent years. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) marijuana may help decrease nausea, stimulate appetite, and decrease pain (2006). Alternately, the American Medical Association (AMA) does not support smoked marijuana as medicine (1995-2013).
With such conflicting opinions around this highly controversial drug, there are many questions to be answered in order to decide the steps the federal government can/should be made for a final resolution. Argument For Nearly one in ten Americans used marijuana in 2010; however, our nation spends over seven billion per year to enforce the illegalization of this natural substance. A recent poll taken in 2011 shows marijuana has increasingly become the preferred drug for Americans. Overall, 6. 9 percent, or 17. million, of the United States population used marijuana in 2010 according to the survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (Increase Use of Marijuana, 2011, para. 2). Dr. Jeffrey Miron, an economics professor at Harvard University, completed a study which determined the approximate cost of enforcing the illegalization of marijuana. The report estimates legalizing marijuana would save, "$7. 7 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition. $5. 3 billion of this savings would accrue to state and local governments, while $2. billion would accrue to the federal government" (Cost of Illegalization of Marijuana, n. d. ). The United States has been engaged in a losing battle against marijuana since the implementation of the Uniform Narcotic Act in the 1930's (Bonnie & Whitbread, n. d). We are not only wasting $7. 7 billion per year, but losing potential revenue. Americans could stand to profit a substantial amount of income if marijuana were to be legalized and regulated by the Department of Agriculture. "Revenue from taxation of marijuana sales would range from $2. billion per year if marijuana were taxed like ordinary consumer goods to $6. 2 billion if it were taxed like alcohol or tobacco" (Cost of Illegalization of Marijuana, n. d. ). Marijuana is not addictive and has a stark contrast of addictive properties when pitted against the addictive characteristics of legalized tobacco and alcohol. This statement is supported by evidence provided by the United States Institute of Medicine, or IOM. The IOM states “fewer than one in 10 marijuana smokers become regular users of the drug, and most voluntary cease their use after 34 years of age.
By comparison, 15 percent of alcohol consumers and 32 percent of tobacco smokers exhibit symptoms of drug dependence" (Supporting evidence, n. d. , para. 2). The IOM also observed cannabis withdrawal symptoms are rare and do not require substitution medicine to stop usage. When marijuana smokers cease consumption, the overwhelming majority do not experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms demanding re-initiating use of marijuana according to the IOM. President Richard Nixon commissioned the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse in 1972.
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The primary objective the commission was to expose dangers of drug use and provide a detailed report on marijuana. Nixon's commission issued a report titled, “Marijuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding," which reviewed existing marijuana studies and determined marijuana does not cause physical addiction (National Commission on Marijuana, 1974). Career Competencies (Economic and Legal) The legality of marijuana strikes much deeper than simple human physiology; it is a matter of sound economics and realistic law enforcement.
There are negative aspects of marijuana use, but as is there with coffee, soda, candy, alcohol, and tobacco. Americans need to revaluate old rhetoric where marijuana was deemed evil and a gateway drug. The only reason marijuana could be considered a gateway drug is because often time’s consumers are exposed to shady drug dealers on a substance deemed as illegal. If Americans opened their eyes and minds to see how much money and effort is wasted to fight a losing battle become aware of how much could be profited from the legalization of marijuana the decision is straightforward; marijuana should be legalized.
Argument Against Contrary to popular belief, marijuana is addictive, and can lead to other health problems such as; lung cancer, low sexual drive (libido), and of utmost importance is to address the concern of marijuana as a “gateway” drug. Addiction has been redefined and continually evolving for decades. Whether a given substance is defined as “addictive” in a given society or culture, has to do largely with social custom and political convenience. Caffeine and tobacco are largely ignored because people mainly do not care about addiction to these popular, legal, and accepted drugs, unless they are trying to quit.
According to the American Psychological Association, APA, addiction “is a condition in which the body must have a drug to avoid physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms” (2013). Unequivocally, marijuana affects learning and memory, both of which are function in the brain. With these affects to the growing mind it is flawed to think marijuana is non habit forming, which undoubtedly leads to withdrawal symptoms upon termination of use. Marijuana is sex-inhibiting. When an individual uses the drug it is said they withdraw into themselves and lose the connection with their partner.
Research into this phenomenon dates back to the 1970’s in which one report showed it reduces testosterone enough to impair the libido in many women and in some men. According to this research, some of the responses included: “My boyfriend and I have smoked (fairly heavily) for the past year and I would say that it 100% has a terrible effect on our sex life. It’s been a huge libido killer for our relationship”; “As I’ve continued to use marijuana (been almost five years smoking now) it’s inhibited sex for me more and more” (Castleman, 2012).
Furthermore, there is scientific evidence to support that long-term marijuana smoking alters the reproductive system. The gateway theory postulates the use of less harmful drugs (such as marijuana) may lead to future risk of using more dangerous hard drugs. To test this theory a group of researchers in Sweden administered rats the equivalent of the THC (the chemical found in marijuana delivering the “high”) in one joint to lab rats.
After this administration of THC the rats were allowed access to heroin by pressing a lever. According to this study, the rats who were administered the THC took larger doses of heroin than the rats who did not receive the THC injection (Ellgren, 2007). Upon inspection of the rat’s brain, it was discovered the brain cells associated with positive emotions were altered by the THC dosage, thus lending the need for higher drive for more heroin than those without the THC.
Ethical Issues More research is needed in order to legislate the use of marijuana. Contemporary medicine and pharmacology are based upon the application of scientific principles and extensive clinical research to determine the safety and efficacy of a drug. Marinol, a synthetic version of the naturally occurring component of marijuana, is a well accepted, well researched, and more effective treatment than marijuana (Kraus, 2007).
This approved drug, like marijuana, helps alleviate chronic pain, reduces chemotherapy-related nausea, and with HIV/AIDS treatment it helps with symptoms known as “wasting syndrome”. Many proponents of legalizing marijuana for these specific illnesses have not looked into marinol as a safe alternative. As a matter of fact the only difference between marinol and marijuana is that marinol does not stimulate the “high” associated with marijuana. Career Competencies (Psychology) Psychologists from all over the United States attest to the negative effects of cannabis.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) a cannabis user can develop; cannabis intoxication- development of maladaptive behavior that developed shortly after or during cannabis use; cannabis intoxication delirium- a disturbance of consciousness with reduced ability to focus, sustain, or shift attention; cannabis-induced psychotic disorder, with delusions- prominent hallucinations or delusions in excess of those usually associated with the intoxication; and cannabis-induced anxiety disorder- prominent anxiety, panic attacks, or obsessions or compulsions that causes significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning American Psychiatric Association, (2000).
The DSM has other classifications for cannabis use; however the mental disturbances highlighted promote the more severe effects of continued marijuana use. Conclusion Marijuana has the reputation of being a gateway drug, although not every heroin addict started out smoking marijuana. Marijuana is prohibited and it puts individuals in circumstances where they are exposed to harder drugs, therefore if the FDA had regulations on marijuana, those individuals would never have to be exposed to those situations. In regards to the effects of marijuana, like a low sex drive, just like every medication whether it is over the counter or prescribed, there will be side effects which will affect everyone differently. Marijuana has the ability to alleviate aliments such as nausea, and other types of pain.
Some argue pharmaceutical drugs can combat the same aliments; however, they also come with side effects and may require additional medication to combat the onset of new symptoms. Taxation of marijuana alone would help the economy. The fact the U. S. is wasting 7. 7 billion dollars enforcing the prohibition of the substance is persuasive enough in its self, as well as the potential revenue brought in by taxing the substance like tobacco or alcohol. Keeping marijuana illegal is only keeping drug dealers in business. While law enforcement continues to chase these petty drug dealers it is costing our taxpayers millions of dollars to put and keep drug dealers behind bars.
The legalizing of marijuana would benefit the economy greatly, therefor marijuana should be legalized. The use of Marijuana and Cultural difference between Japan and The United States The history of Cannabis in the country of Japan can be traced back to 300 – 500 BC. Cannabis was a widely used plant for the majority of Japanese culture and daily lives. Cannabis fibers were used to not only create baskets and fishing tools, but were also used in creating divine clothing for the Emperor’s. Burning of cannabis was also used for old traditions, for example rooms of worship were purified by burning cannabis leave by the entrance. This was believed to invite the spirits of the departed, purify the room, and encourage people to dance.
Japan’s cultivation of Cannabis came to a halt at the end of World War II when allied forces occupied and began to help rebuild Japan. It was America General Douglas MacArthur and his colleagues who re-wrote the Japanese constitution in 1948 and mirrored many of the United States laws. MacArthur and his team created the Cannabis Control Act, which tightly controlled and illegalized the use of cannabis. Due to the extreme cultivating of cannabis and its widely uses in daily lives, Western companies found a market with providing synthetic products to replace cannabis. Today, cannabis is a drug guarded and considered taboo among the Japanese culture.
The use and history of cannabis is all but forgotten within today’s Japanese society, and when it is discovered people have, or are using it recreationally, they are shunned and casted as “stone-cold drug addicts” (Uno, 2011). Many Japanese people consider marijuana and other ‘hard drugs’ to be the exact same and believe all drugs have the same effect. This ideal thinking of marijuana has lead Japan to be one of the strictest laws and punishments compared to other developed countries. In 1993 a Disc Jockey from New York, Christopher Lavinger, was arrested and was sentenced to 16 months in prison and 35 days in solitary confinement after Japanese police found 1. 5 grams of marijuana, 3. 5 grams of cocaine, and some LSD (Hays, 2009). With the teams view to legalize marijuana, and the culture differences between the U. S. nd Japan, the first step to move towards a ‘Pro-Marijuana’ Japanese country would be to educate the people on the benefits cannabis can provide. As described above, the financial profit gained would be tremendous and can go back to the people in various ways. The people would also need education on their history of using cannabis within their ancient traditions and target many high-profile figures to support the use of marijuana. Because of the strict laws and taboo views Japan has of cannabis, it would be a hard road, but the understanding and education used properly, Japan could create legislation that would override, or amend their constitution and current laws banning its use. References American Medical Association (AMA). (1995-2013). Retrieved from http://www. ama-assn. rg/ American Psychiatric Association, (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorder (4th ed. ). American Psychological Association (APA). (2013). Retrieved from http://www. apa. org/topics/addiction/index. aspx Argument: Marijuana is not addictive. (n. d. ). Retrieved March 24, 2013, from http://dbp. idebate. org/en/index. php/Argument:_Marijuana_is_not_addictive Bonnie, R. , & Whitbread, C. (n. d). The Forbidden Fruit and the Tree of Knowledge: An Inquiry into the Legal History of Historian of American Marijuana Prohibition. Schaffer Library of Drug Policy. Retrieved from http://www. druglibrary. org/schaffer/Library/studies/vlr/vlr3. htm Castleman, Michael. Marijuana's Effects on Sex Vary with Individuals. " Marijuana. Ed. Noah Berlatsky. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from "Marijuana and Sex: Surprising Results of This Blogger's Informal Survey. " Psychology Today (1 May 2011). Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 8 Mar. 2013. Ellgren, Maria. “Neurobiological effects of early life cannabis exposure in relation to the gateway hypothesis” (2007). Retrieved from http://publications. ki. se/xmlui/handle/10616/38245? locale-attribute=en Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2006). Retrieved from http://www. fda. gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2006/ucm108643. htm Hays, J. (2009).
Marijuana, Legal Highs and Illegal drugs in Japan. Retrieved from http://factsanddetails. com/japan. php? itemid=664 Kraus, Mark L. "Legalizing Medical Marijuana Is Not a Good Idea. " Medical Marijuana. Ed. Noel Merino. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2011. Current Controversies. Rpt. from "The Dangers of Legalizing Medical Marijuana: A Physician's Perspective. " 2007. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. Marijuana use rising in U. S. , national survey shows. (2011). Retrieved March 24, 2013, from http://www. reuters. com/article/2011/09/08/usa-drugs-idUSN1E7870N520110908 Olson, D. (1998). Hempen cultrue in Japan. Retrieved from http://www. cannabisculture. om/articles/101. html/ Stirring the Pot: Could Legalizing Marijuana Save the Economy?. (2013). Retrieved from http://www. forbes. com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2012/04/20/stirring-the-pot-could-legalizing-marijuana-save-the-economy/ The first report of the National Commission on marihuana (1972): signal of misunderstanding or exercise in ambiguity. (1974). Retrieved from http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pmc/articles/PMC1749335/ The White House President Barak Obama. (2013). Retrieved from http://m. whitehouse. gov/ondcp/marijuana Uno, M. (2011). WEED CRISIS: Enter Japan's Void. Retrieved from http://www. thestarklife. com/2011/06/17/weed-in-japan/
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