Re:Recreational Marijuana Legalization Debate: Against Legalization
Recreational Maijuana Legalization: Against Legalization
There has been much debate on the legalization of marijuana and there has been an increase of popular belief that it should be legalized. One may argue that legalization would free up law enforcement to focus on more violent crimes and people should be able to make their own decisions about what they put in their bodies regardless of the consequences. However, popular belief often fails to look at all the facts before making a logical decision on whether the legalization of marijuana is necessary. It is easy to hear a success story of the medicinal benefits of a chronic illness yet turn a blind eye to the staggering statistics on what drug abuse is doing to the health of this country. The following paragraphs will address the many damaging factors that accompany marijuana use and why it should not be legalized.
As with most drugs, marijuana is addictive in nature. It affects the nucleus accumbens in the brain and activates the THC-sensitive receptor (Levinthal, 2016). This causes a marijuana user to experience a state of well-being and euphoria. Marijuana is unique in that users can achieve a greater high with prolonged use (Levinthal, 2016). This happens because of its slow elimination rate and users learn to inhale marijuana smoke longer to increase its effects (Levinthal, 2016). Users become addicted over time and will suffer withdrawal symptoms if they try to quit, which includes irritability and anxiety (Drugrehab.us, n.d.). Young people who use marijuana are more likely to explore stronger drugs like cocaine or heroin. It also increases their chances of abusing prescriptions as adults (Drugrehab.us, n.d.). Users are two and a half times more likely to use heroin, four times more likely to use cocaine, and five more times likely to use hallucinogens (Levinthal, 2016). In addition, marijuana users are twice as likely to become alcoholics (Levinthal, 2016).
Marijuana affects brain health in that is restricts the blood flow of the brain and causes loss of memory and cognitive function. Researchers at Duke University participated in a study of individuals who were heavy users of marijuana and found that on average people lost an average of eight IQ points between the ages of 13 and 38 (NIDA, 2018). Even when these individuals quit as adults, they did not fully regain their mental abilities (NIDA, 2018). Marijuana can interfere with a teenager’s motivation to go to school and increases their chances of dropping out (Levinthal, 2016). Marijuana users report having less satisfaction in life, are more prone to mental health issues, and have increased relationship issues (NIDA, 2015). They are more likely to be in poor physical health, which drives up the cost of health care (NIDA, 2015).
When individuals us both marijuana and tobacco they are less likely to quit smoking and more likely to be sick, which increases their chances of premature death (Strong et al., 2018). Marijuana has 50% more hydrocarbons and the tar in smoking one joint is equivalent to smoking four cigarettes (Levinthal, 2016). It shrinks the airways in the lungs and can cause chronic lung conditions. Since the effects of marijuana are more damaging to the body, it is safe to conclude that marijuana use only increases the cost of caring for tobacco users. There have been 17.7 million smoking related deaths reported between 1964 to 2012 (NIDA, 2018). Smoking has cost America $289 to $332.5 billion from 2009 to 2012, with $132.5 to $175.9 billion in direct medical expenses and $151 billion lost in productivity due to premature deaths (NIDA, 2018). Any revenue generated from the legalization of marijuana is overshadowed by these expenses and the overall health of Americans.
Other health risks include the increase in emergency room visits. Since 2004, visits from marijuana use have increased by 64% (Levinthal, 2016). This may be due to the higher THC levels in marijuana compared to the 60’s and 70’s. Back then concentrations ranged from one to two percent (Levinthal, 2016). Today, these concentrations can be anywhere from six to ten percent (Levinthal, 2016). Marijuana also increases the chance of deadly auto accidents because it distorts an individual’s perception on distances and inhibits their ability to make proper decisions when driving (Levinthal, 2016). Individuals under the influence of marijuana are more likely to take risks, which includes sexual promiscuity and unsafe sex causing sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
The psychological, physiological, and societal strain that accompanies addiction, whether it is from damaged health, relationships, or loss of lives, does not need any additional fuel added to an already growing problem. Legalizing marijuana only provides easier access for young people, stunts their ability to cope with anxiety and other mental health concerns, and teaches them how to become addicted at a younger and faster rate. Marijuana impairs their judgement which can result in poor decisions that can have lifelong consequences. Individuals may desire freedom to use marijuana at their leisure, but legalizing it will bring less freedom because of the unforeseen negative consequences individuals do not consider when participating in psychoactive drugs.
Drugrehab.us. (n.d.) Pros and cons of legalizing recreational marijuana. Retrieved from https://www.drugrehab.us/news/pros-cons-legalizing-recreational-marijuana/
Levinthal, C. (2016). Drugs, behavior, and modern society. (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
NIDA. (2018, January 5). Tobacco, Nicotine, and E-Cigarettes. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes on 2018, October 13
NIDA. (2018, June). What is marijuana? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana
Strong, D. R., Myers, M. G., Pulvers, K., Noble, M., Brikmanis, K., & Doran, N. (2018). Marijuana use among US tobacco users: Findings from wave 1 of the population assessment of tobacco health (PATH) study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 186, 16–22. https://doi-org.lopes.idm.oclc.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.12.044
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