The medical use of marijuana has been known in many countries for thousands of years. The debate over the legalization of marijuana nowadays is one of the most contradictory and conflicting issues. In spite of a popular view of the medical benefits of marijuana, doctors insist that the use of marijuana provides the same dangerous effect as other drugs. Movement for the legalization of marijuana is growing so fast. However, a question about the legalization of marijuana can be considered from two different points of view based on the biological and ethical issues of the legalization.
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Supporters of the legalization insist upon the following arguments. Firstly, everybody is free to choose one’s way of life. No one, including the government, has right to prohibit the use of marijuana. Besides, an easy access to drugs will reduce the consumption of heavy drugs such as cocaine and heroin. It will lead to diminution of the crime. They say drug addiction is the consequence of the criminal group’s activity. Additionally, the level of the AIDS patients will also decrease.
Medical use of marijuana can help cure the intoxication and headache. Marijuana can be an effective remedy for the multiply pain, epilepsy and even for the symptoms of cancer and AIDS. However, the patients who use marijuana medically say about not reduction of the pain but ability to cope with it.
Opponents of the legalization say that marijuana is a harmful substance which can lead people to use even harder drugs. Most of the people who use marijuana to relieve medical conditions have previously used it recreationally. It is important to emphasize the absence of comprehensive information about marijuana before its use for medical conditions (Joy, p. 22). It can interfere with fertility, impair driving ability and injure body natural defense system and brain. Additionally, the various legal drugs make the use of marijuana unnecessary. Opponents say that the legalization of marijuana is the first step for heavy drugs legalization.
Talking about the biological influence of marijuana, Joy says that human body can protect itself from invaders, such as bacteria and viruses, by the work of immune system. Cannabinoids, substances contained in marijuana, especially THC, can modulate the function of immune cells in different ways – to enhance or to diminish the immune response (Joy, p. 58). This function is not known yet. So we can’t prognosticate the reaction of the immune system. It can depend on the drug concentration or the type of cell function. The experiments on animals showed that THC concentration modulates the behavior and makes the psycho activity higher (Joy, p. 59).
Today about 50% of Americans say that the use of marijuana should be legal (Newport). According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana is the most popular drug among the American citizen. 16.7 million Americans aged 12 or older used marijuana at least once a month, and this rate was only increased between 2002 and 2008 (Newport).
Marijuana in California is, or rather was legal for a long time. There has been established Oaksterdam University which his founder Lee describes as a school that specializes in all things related to marijuana from its growing to the marketing and consummation. It’s a formal school with the teachers, classes and exams. They already claim 3,500 graduates. Additionally, Lee is an owner of a dispensary, a coffee house, a large marijuana plantation, and a kind of museum/store devoted to the cause of legalizing marijuana (Conder). Lee supposes that the history of alcohol shows the same example. Long time ago the alcohol was illegal but later became the profitable business. Lee’s position is very popular among the citizen of the state. In California marijuana for medical use was approved more than ten years ago. Today more than half of the people in the state would support the decriminalizing pot. Even the ex-govemor of California, Schwarzenegger says that we should study very carefully the examples of other countries about the legalization of marijuana (Conder).
It’s a well-known fact that salvia has the same psychoactive hallucinogenic effect. But the use of salvia is absolutely legal in most of the countries. Salvia was used by shamans in their rituals and spiritual sessions for thousands of years. However, several states have already passed the laws to make salvia illegal. But generally this substance is not a cause of arguments. So marijuana possessing the same characteristics shouldn’t be considered as a dangerous drug.
In addition, drug companies have a monopoly on the market of pharmacology. It’s a terrifically profitable business. Doctors could prescribe marijuana in order to reduce pain and suffering, but it would completely spoil the business of drug companies.
Marijuana doesn’t stimulate an aggressive behavior as, for instance, alcohol. It even makes people be more peaceful. Marijuana doesn’t contain nicotine, although a damage of smoking marijuana is the same as in case of cigarettes. Nevertheless, many medics take the view that marijuana is a dangerous drug and there is no reason to make it legal and make the situation more complicated.
- Conder, Chuck. “Drive to Legalize Marijuana Rolls on in California.” CNN, 2009.
- Joy, Janet E., Stanley J. Watson Jr., and John A. Benson Jn. Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. Washington: National Academy Press, 1999.
- Newport, Frank. “Record-high 50% of Americans Favor Legalizing Marijuana Use.” CNN, 2011.