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Legalization of Medical Marijuana: Help or Harm? Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jul 12th, 2021


Nowadays, the issue of the legalization of marijuana has become widely discussed and particularly controversial. There are many people who support it for various reasons, the main one of which is recreational or medical use, provided with some scientific references. A contrary opinion on the issue exists, and people who hold it also have some proofs. Although, according to Marion and Hill (2019), “more recent polls have found that the number of people who believe that marijuana can be harmful to users has decreased during the past twenty-five years” (p. 4). The positive effects of marijuana are undeniable, especially when it is used for medical or recreational purposes, where its harmful side effects and risks are minimized. Moreover, the advantages seem to significantly outweigh the disadvantages, which are scientifically proved by various researchers and will be discussed in this paper.

Drawbacks of legalization of marijuana

To begin with, it seems essential to consider the opinion of people who are against legalization of marijuana. Researchers note that “some key interest groups have come out in opposition to legalization due to concerns about potential adverse effects on the public’s health” (McGinty et al., 2016, p. 115). There are some considerable side effects of marijuana, which can cause particular harm to people’s health. For instance, according to Levinthal (2014), the elimination of marijuana is proved to be slow due to its absorption into the fatty tissue, which makes it take longer to leave the body. In addition, there is an increased risk of cancer since marijuana usually contains similar ingredients to those in tobacco, the noticeable number of users which suffer from this disease, and, consequently, die in many cases. It is also pointless to deny such negative consequences as considerable changes in mind, hallucinations, some cardio problems, instances of acute depression or apathy, and, depending on previous illnesses that a person had, the list can be continued.

Moreover, it is possible to note that “the legalization of medical marijuana may affect adolescents’ use by increasing its availability through diversion from social sources” (Paschall, Grube, & Biglan, 2017, p. 330). It is hard to deny that, in the case of legalization, there will be extensive media coverage, such as various commercials and advertising, which will inevitably lead to broad public awareness. Therefore, marijuana will probably become more widespread and simpler to obtain. The primary concern, coming from this, seems to be whether the government and parents will be able to explain appropriately to adolescents how to use marijuana properly. Thus, the final and most significant point against legalization follows. Researchers note that “the consequences of legalization are unpredictable: no one can say for sure what the results will be” (Caulkins, Kilmer, & Kleiman, 2019, p. 1). There is no doubt that the uncertainties are crucial in this case, and a lot must be done to minimize them. For instance, it is necessary to ascertain that such social groups as parents, teachers, doctors, social workers, psychologists, and so on are aware of all the aspects and pitfalls of marijuana, even unpredictable ones. In addition, they should be able to follow all the rules connected with its usage. Otherwise, it is impossible to predict all the adverse outcomes and consequences that can follow.

Benefits of legalizing marijuana

Conversely, there are various arguments in favor of the legalization of marijuana. First and foremost, lots of researches were conducted, proving the positive medical effect of marijuana. According to Marion and Hill (2019), “synthetic marijuana is sometimes used to increase a patient’s appetite or to reduce nausea” (p. 17). Despite some side effects, if used wisely and for medical purposes, marijuana seems to be a great help for both patients and doctors. What is more, Levinthal (2014) notes that marijuana has not only been helping with cases of nausea and weight loss with some impressive results. It has also been considered utterly helpful in the treatment of such illnesses as glaucoma and asthma, which, if studied further successfully, can lead to a considerable scientific breakthrough in the medical area. In these cases, patients and their relatives were satisfied with the results. Therefore, marijuana appears to be widely useful and not so dangerous in terms of medical usage, especially comparing it with some medicines that can cause utterly severe and harmful side effects without successful treatment of the original issue. In other words, marijuana may be an appropriate and valuable tool, providing it is used wisely and carefully.

Furthermore, one should note that if marijuana were legalized, it would be used mostly as medicine, like, for example, paracetamol, pain killers, and so on. Teenagers and adolescents generally do not pay much attention to such usual pills as aspirin or lozenges. Therefore, it is improbable that they would take marijuana enormously just because it is allowed. In addition, as was mentioned before, it would be the parents and government’s responsibility to clarify for teenagers the usage and its rules, which, if done thoughtfully, would help to reduce any risk. The issue is highly significant and, consequently, requires a lot of attention and debate. There is no doubt that all the adverse outcomes can be avoided, providing there are a proper attitude and alertness. Nevertheless, how can anybody guarantee that they will be provided?

Concerns about marijuana

One more point that should be considered is the roots of initial concerns about marijuana. In other words, the majority of acute adverse effects are claimed to be psychological and behavioral changes. Although, according to Levinthal (2014), “explanation for the behavioral changes is that chronic marijuana users are involved in a deviant subculture that tends to undermine traditional values of school achievement and long-term aspirations” (p. 187). Therefore, the problem does not lie solely in the consumption of marijuana, it is much more complicated than that. There can be various factors, such as the environment in a family, surrounding in school or at work, relationships with peers and adults, and so on. All the details listed can affect a person in diverse ways with unpredictable consequences. Despite some cases in which the consumption of marijuana seemed to set the base for future drug problems, other external factors cannot be omitted. Thus, one should note that not only is it possible that marijuana is not a cause of suspicious behavior, but it can also be a kind of outcome (Goldstein, 2016).

Moreover, it can even be a consequence that may be prevented if detected timely and precisely. It is crucial to pay as much attention as possible to people with existing psychological problems because when they are treated appropriately, the thread will be decreased significantly. Therefore, risks that follow the legalization will be minimized.


To sum all the things mentioned above up, the issue of the legalization of marijuana is highly disputable and can be observed from many different angles. Nevertheless, one should note that there is a lot to be discussed further and to be thoroughly thought through. Although, it is undeniable that marijuana provides people with various helpful and positive effects that must be studied forward. In case of success of the subsequent studies, it would be utterly beneficial to apply marijuana in the medicine and recreational area. It could lead to further inventions in these spheres of science and, consequently, to some remarkable results.

Last but not least, it seems to be also significant to think thoroughly about all the possible outcomes of connected inventions, especially in terms of adolescents and safe usage. Despite being utterly useful, marijuana can be concealing some crucial pitfalls, such as mindless consumption or even mercenary usage, for instance, some illegal selling, which can lead to even worse, severe consequences. In other words, before making the final decision, everything must be reconsidered and debated multiple times by different departments. Because the issue is becoming more significant nowadays, it is crucial to make sure everything is under control. Existing public policy toward the usage of marijuana has considerably changed so that now it is decriminalized in terms of the small amounts of marijuana that one can possess legally. Nowadays, a majority of people worldwide support the legalization of marijuana, and it is possible to predict that this support will keep getting stronger in the future. Thus, maybe shortly, all the things discussed in this paper will be present, along with some possible consequences and outcomes.


Caulkins, J. P., Kilmer, B., & Kleiman, M. (2019). Marijuana legalization: What everyone needs to know. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Goldstein, M. J. (2016). Legalizing marijuana: Promises and pitfalls. Minneapolis, MN: Twenty-First Century Books.

Levinthal, C. F. (2014). Drugs, behavior, and modern society. Bergen, NJ: Pearson.

Marion N. E., & Hill J. B. (2019). Marijuana 360: Differing perspectives on legalization. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

McGinty, E. E., Samples, H., Bandara, S. N., Saloner, B., Bachhuber, M. A., & Barry, C. L. (2016). The emerging public discourse on state legalization of marijuana for recreational use in the US: Analysis of news media coverage, 2010–2014. Preventive Medicine, 90, 114-120.

Paschall, M. J., Grube, J. W., & Biglan, A. (2017). Medical marijuana legalization and marijuana use among youth in Oregon. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 38(3), 329-341.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Legalization of Medical Marijuana: Help or Harm'. 12 July.

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