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Marijuana: Illicit Drug or Logical Substance?

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Essay title: Marijuana: Illicit Drug or Logical Substance?

Marijuana: Illicit Drug or Logical Substance?

For decades upon decades, marijuana, and the legalization thereof, has been a heavily disputed and greatly controversial topic in America. As stated by Eric Voth in his article “Should Marijuana be Legalized as a Medicine?” marijuana remains, by far, the most frequently used illegal drug. However, after analyzing the facts that lie before us as of today, it can be seen that marijuana should in fact be legalized. On one hand, marijuana is easily recognized as the most harmless of drugs. Substances such as alcohol and tobacco; legal substances, cause much more harm to the body and many more deaths per year than marijuana. Not only is marijuana not harmful, it is in fact beneficial. The medicinal advantages of marijuana have been proved, used, and, therefore, even legalized in certain circumstances. Furthermore, keeping marijuana illegal costs the government billions of dollars per year, which is wasted money. Numerous other places have far fewer restrictions on the use of marijuana, and it has caused no harm. There is not any proof that prohibition helps our country in any way, or decreases the use of marijuana. Because of marijuana’s un-logical restrictions as well as its medical value, the United States government should legalize its use both medicinally and recreationally.

To start, the most prevalent chemical in marijuana, 1-delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol, or THC, is quite harmless when compared to chemicals in legal substances. Patrick Anderson mentions in his book High in America that THC is the chemical in marijuana that produces psychological and physiological effects upon users, primarily affecting the nervous system. (85) In other words, THC is the chemical that gets you high. Looking at THC, one will find that it is a quite harmless chemical, and, when compared to nicotine, should actually be praised. Nicotine is a very toxic chemical that acts as a poison to one’s body. Not only that, but it possesses addictive properties which make a user physically crave it; properties that THC does not contain. An example of this, of course, is addiction to cigarettes, a very common problem today. Also, according to Anderson, while nicotine constricts air sacs in the lungs, THC dilates them, helping the lungs to function properly and expel the waste in marijuana smoke, as opposed to the constricted air sacs left by nicotine not being able to rid the lungs of the thousands of toxic chemicals in cigarettes. (102)

Furthermore, marijuana is, unlike the legal chemical nicotine in tobacco, not a physically addictive substance. There is no proof that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” Rudolph J. Gerber, teacher at Arizona State University and retired judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals states in his book Legalizing Marijuana: Drug Reform and Prohibition Politics

There is no evidence that cannabis creates physiological changes that increase the desire for drugs. The idea that marijuana causes subsequent drug use appears unfounded . . . Only a minority of marijuana smokers try cocaine, crack, or heroin.(72)

Marijuana leaves do not contain advertisements for cocaine and heroin. It is normal for users of “harder” drugs to have tried marijuana before those drugs, but such instances, while maybe suggestive, do not mean with concrete evidence that said users began doing harder drugs simply as an effect of their concurrent use of marijuana. Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D. and Associate Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York at Albany expresses the same ideas scientifically in his book Understanding Marijuana, noting that cannabinoids have their own receptor in the brain that does not react directly to drugs like heroin and cocaine. (48) If these receptors activated by marijuana through THC have no connection to other drugs such as those noted above, then how would marijuana open up a “gateway” to such drugs? Finally, also presented by Earleywine is evidence in animal research. Surely, if marijuana created physiological changes that increased the desire for other drugs, animals would be prone to ingest other substances when given the opportunity. However, rodents exposed to THC were not suddenly willing to press levers for other drugs, or even for more THC. It is quite obvious that tetrahydrocannibinol, and as a result, marijuana, is not an addictive substance physically or psychologically, nor is there any data supporting such claims.

Cigarettes, consisting primarily, of course, of tobacco, are completely legal in America. Per year, according to the Marijuana Legalization Organization, about 440,000 people die from smoking cigarettes. Keep in mind that this is compared to an average of zero annual deaths due to smoking marijuana. The Marijuana Legalization Organization also notes that tobacco leaves themselves contain radioactive elements

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