The last several years are characterized by numerous claims to legalize the use of marijuana. The example of several states that have already introduced the appropriate law provides the ground for vigorous debates about the absence of the expected deterioration of the situation and emergence of multiple problems associated with this substance’s abuse. In such a way, the given paper is devoted to the in-depth investigation of the question of marijuana’s legalization and its effect on society.
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The most important factors regarding this aspect are discussed. The work utilizes the existing research works devoted to the problem to formulate a theoretical background and answers the most important questions associated with the issue. At the same time, it suggests arguments to promote the legalization of marijuana because it would lessen the strain in prisons and help to alleviate chronic pain in chemotherapy and other patients with incurable diseases.
The modern society faces a significant problem of drug abuse. By the statistics, there is a tendency towards the increase of addicted people, and by the end of 2020, their number will double (CDC, 2014). It means that communities, government, and the healthcare sector experience a challenge related to the monitoring of the spread, creation, and use of the prohibited substances. The complexity of this problem is evidenced by the fact that despite all efforts the number of people who have tried drugs for at least one time increases (CDC, 2014). However, there are numerous claims that some of the substances included in the list should be legalized because of the absence of negative aspects associated with their use.
Marijuana has always been an ongoing issue as many people continue smoking it without the obvious negative impact on their health. Moreover, many research works prove the need for the legalization of cannabis (Caulkins, Kilmer, & Kleiman, 2016). In such a way, today there are vigorous debates between the adheres and opponents of the idea to provide governmental support to cannabis. Both parties have strong arguments and refer to various research works. However, regarding the latest tendencies in the given sphere, the negative impact of this substance becomes not so obvious. For this reason, the paper states that legalization of marijuana would lessen the strain in prisons and help to alleviate chronic pain in chemotherapy and other patients with incurable diseases.
The medical application of marijuana can be traced back to ancient times. The first use of the substance was observed in about 5000 years ago in China. It was considered a potent pain alleviator that was prescribed to patients in critical conditions (Grinspoon, 2005). Since that time, the drug has remained an often prescribed medicine because of its ability to reduce anxiety, fear, pain, some kinds of disorders, and assist patients in their recovery. For centuries humanity has been using cannabis with various purposes. In the course of its development, new ways to utilize the substance emerged. They contributed to the idea about the importance of the issue and its integration with the various spheres of human functioning.
However, the evolution of the humanistic thought along with the growing number of concerns about substances abuse preconditioned the shift of priorities towards the negative attitude to marihuana. Having recognized multiple pernicious effects drugs as opium have on the state of people’s health, society introduced the idea of the complete prohibition of cannabis as it influence was compared to that of other addictive substances (Grinspoon, 2005).
Thus, the evolution of science and multiple investigations in the given sphere created the basis for a new wave of debates. A significant number of existing research works do not agree that marihuana has negative effects similar to other drugs’ ones (Grinspoon, 2005). For this reason, the basis ground for vigorous debates emerged.
Today statistics show that 11 million young adults aged 18-25 used marijuana in the past year (CDC, 2014). Numbers are similar among adults aged 25-45 (CDC, 2014). It means that despite existing prohibitions, the use of marijuana remains uncontrolled. Moreover, because of the existing regulations, there is a particular criminal aspect related to the use and distribution of this substance. In such a way, a paradoxical situation can be observed as the U.S. government remains afraid of the legalization of cannabis but is unable to control its use.
One of the fears associated with the introduction of appropriate amendments to create the basis for the legal use of marijuana is the problem of overdose. Even though there is no credible evidence about the pernicious impact of the prolonged use of this substance, adheres of the complete prohibition of cannabis outline the high risk of overdose because of the theoretical accessibility (Caulkins et al., 2016). In accordance with CDC (2014) reports, the number of cases of overdose is insignificant compared to other drugs.
At the same time, the negative impact of cannabis is dissimilar to other abusive substances and is not life-threatening (Caulkins et al., 2016). Some psychological aspects can result in disorientation or unawareness of the environment with a high risk of falls or traumas. However, the direct impact on health is not as severe as other drugs promote.
In such a way, the given aspect can be used as one of the possible reasons for the legalization of marihuana. Adherers of the idea emphasize the fact that regardless of numerous existing fears related to the possible overdose of cannabis and the hypothetical tendency towards its continuously increasing use, the situation remains stable (Caulkins et al., 2016). CDC (2014) and other regulatory agencies responsible for the monitoring of the situation in the sphere of drug abuse do not report the emergence of new cases of overdose. Cannabis can be characterized by the less dangerous mechanism of the impact on people’s health and development of addiction (CDC, 2014).
For this reason, the lack of dangerous statistics related to overdose and the overall positive statistics can be used as credible evidence aimed at the reconsideration of the existing legislation applied to marihuana use.
Less Dangerous Character
Another argument for the legalization of marihuana is that compared to other abusive substances, marihuana is less dangerous. The relevant reports about the use of drugs demonstrate that heroin, cocaine, and amphetamine cause a much severer impact on people’s health by destroying their central nervous system and interfering with the functioning of other organs (Caulkins et al., 2016).
The prolonged use of these substances results in the development of addiction that demands complex treatment and is associated with the continuous and complex rehabilitation period. These addictions can be considered a significant factor affecting individuals’ behaviors and resulting in serious alterations in their mentalities. For instance, during the withdrawal periods, individuals using heroin can become dangerous for society and even close people because of the need for a new dose. They can act violently or aggressive (Caulkins et al., 2016). On the contrary, in people using cannabis, these patterns are not admitted. They do not demonstrate critical alterations in behavior and mood.
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Investigators state that marijuana does not cause these effects because of its less abusive character and the other mechanism of the interaction with the body. In such a way, legalization of cannabis cannot be compared to the legalization of other drugs because of the critical differences in life-threatening potential. Moreover, the use of severe drugs affects people’s socialization patterns and isolates them (Caulkins et al., 2016).
These problems are not observed among individuals who prefer cannabis. The given facts can be considered a potent argument towards the legalization of marihuana. Less dangerous character of the drug shows that people using it will not become a burden for the society (Caulkins et al., 2016). The state of their health will remain at a high level because of the absence of the documented negative impact on the main organs or systems.
One more idea to promote marijuana legalization is that federal support to cannabis will not result in a new crime wave and will not pose a threat to the existing order. Conducting the research to refute the idea that the broad use of this substance can trigger the outburst of aggression in prisons and streets, researchers conclude that the given assumption does not have real grounds and can be considered an outdated stereotype (Morris, TenEyck, Barnes, & Kovandzic, 2014).
On the contrary, prisoners using marijuana have lower stress levels and demonstrate the decreased number of aggressive patterns (Morris et al., 2014). Cannabinoids have a sedative impact on the nervous system and reduce the overall level of anxiety and stress (Morris et al., 2014). In such a way, two central causes for the emergence of violent inclinations become eliminated. Researchers interested in the investigation of the ways in which prisoners or individuals belonging to crime communities interact, show that the cannabis smoking during their interactions does not increase the level of tension and does not result in negative outcomes.
Legalization of the distribution will also help to minimize the number of drug dealers who work in the given sphere as individuals will acquire the opportunity to buy cannabis at the drug store. In such a way, fears about the increase in the number of crimes because of the federal support to marijuana become irrelevant as many facts refute this assumption. On the contrary, a certain positive effect can be achieved. Governmental support provided to the use of cannabis and its distribution can help to relieve tension in various spheres and control the main ways in which it is sold, which can be considered a significant advantage regarding the current situation with drugs.
Marijuana can be considered a potent medicine that has a high potential to assist patients with complex problems. As it has already been stated, the use of cannabis for medical purposes has a long history as even in the ancient world doctors prescribed it to patients with pain. Today, the substance is also used in this sphere. For instance, patients with glaucoma can be prescribed cannabis as its smoking can lower the intraocular pressure of people with this disease (Caulkins et al., 2016). It is critical for their states as the decrease of pressure slows down the speed of the illness’ development and provide more time for people.
The research by Pergam et al. (2017) suggests another use of cannabis in the healthcare sector. The authors outline the fact that cancer patients with chronic pain demonstrate growing concerns about the prolonged use of opiates (Pergam et al., 2017). This sort of medicines has a negative impact on their health and result in the emergence of undesired side effects. For this reason, there is a need for an alternative way of managing pain and improving the quality of their lives. The research paper offers the investigation of the results of cannabis’ use by patients who experience this sort of pain. The authors admit that the bigger part of individuals reports decreased levels of pain and improved ability to avoid depressive thoughts about their illness and its negative outcomes.
Other conditions might also demand the use of cannabinoids. These can include anxiety, stress, tiredness, and extreme exhaustion (Ferris, 2013). However, patients might experience difficulties because of the low accessibility of this drug due to the existing legislation that creates barriers for this category of individuals. It means that the legalization of marihuana can have a positive impact on the healthcare sector.
Adherers of the legalization of cannabis also outline its ability to alleviate chronic pain which becomes critical for patients who undergo chemotherapy or have incurable diseases. As it has already been stated, the prolonged use of opiates and other painkillers might result in the development of addiction and the deterioration of the state of individuals’ health. Regarding the complexity of a case, people might experience different types of pain characterized by various severity (Ferris, 2013).
Marijuana as a substance that helps to avoid unpleasant feelings can be considered an appropriate option of this category of patients. The latest investigations in the given sphere admit the promising character of this substance use because of its ability to replace opiates and other painkillers in cases where such a powerful medicine is not needed (Caulkins et al., 2016). At the same time, patients undergoing chemotherapy and using cannabis admit the reduction in the level of unpleasant feelings and anxiety associated with their future and treatment outcomes (Caulkins et al., 2016). It means that marijuana becomes an appropriate option for them.
The research by Sexton et al. (2014) proves that cannabis can be used by patients with multiple sclerosis. The disease affects the brain and spinal cord which results in the emergence of different symptoms. They can include severe pain, spasms, tingling, and vision problems (Sexton et al., 2014). The modern approach to treating this disease presupposes the use of various medications to support a patient.
However, the research mentioned above outlines another opportunity for people with this long-term condition. Analyzing the existing reports, it finds that cannabis-based medicinal extracts can decrease the frequency of pain attacks associated with multiple sclerosis and improve the quality of patients’ lives (Sexton et al., 2014). The adverse effects of this method are less dangerous if to compare with the traditional pharmacological treatment. This research evidences the fact that the use of marihuana can be beneficial regarding the alleviation of chronic pain and a decrease in the number of undesired symptoms.
Patients with incurable diseases might benefit from the legalization of cannabis. There are several factors that should be mentioned regarding this category. First, modern research shows that marihuana can be a potent tool regarding the end of life care (Sexton et al., 2014).
In accordance with the report published by the oncological center, cannabis can provide a deep relief from distress and spiritual suffering that appear because of the understanding of death and its inevitability (Ferris, 2013). Statistics show that among patients in palliative care units, the use of cannabinoids helps to reduce the level of stress and support patients during their last days (Maida & Daeninck, 2016). It becomes a significant option as the use of other medications can be prohibited because of the people’s health problems and current prescriptions.
Second, patients may experience severe pain because of their health status and the negative impact of the illness. Moreover, they can have some psychological problems related to the direct threat to their lives. Patients with incurable diseases can experience helplessness, hopelessness, isolation, and anxiety (Ferris, 2013). Under these conditions, the use of marijuana can be considered an appropriate option for them.
Its ability to alleviate pain has already been discussed in the paper; however, psychologists working with people in these states admit that alterations in mood triggered by this substance might have a positive impact on people with incurable diseases and help them to continue living not losing hope (Ferris, 2013). For this reason, it is critical to simplify access to marijuana as the existing regulations create multiple barriers for people who need it as a potent medicine to assist them in their recovery. Its wide use can be beneficial for patients in palliative care units who need support and assistance with their spiritual suffering or distress.
For patients with long-term conditions legalization of marihuana can also provide multiple benefits. Thus, the study and interviews among individuals who have asthma and epilepsy show the direct correlation between the number of diseases’ attacks and the use of marijuana (Rappold, 2014). In other words, individuals used cannabis to reduce the number of recurrence periods and improve the quality of their lives.
Since asthma emerges because of chronic inflammation of the lungs, cannabinoids might have a positive impact on the patient because of their anti-inflammatory properties (Szalavitz, 2012). As for epilepsy, patients admit the decrease of anxiety caused by cannabis (Rappold, 2014). It is a critical fact needed to avoid a new attack of the disease. Therapists also report the marijuana can help patients with chronic pain, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.
For patients who have HIV or AIDS, the use of marihuana can contribute to the improvement of their states and the elimination of some undesired symptoms. Significant progress in the given sphere has contributed to the emergence of new therapies that allow patients with HIV/AIDS to live a long life and comparatively healthy life (Maida & Daeninck, 2016). Unfortunately, the given treatment has several side effects that can become a real problem for patients.
These can include anorexia, weight loss, nausea, headache, and stomachache. (Maida & Daeninck, 2016). The use of marihuana can be considered a beneficial option of this group. For instance, about 95% of HIV patients admitted a significant improvement of their appetite because of cannabis use (Maida & Daeninck, 2016). Moreover, the majority of individuals also reported reduced muscle pain along with the decrease in the frequency of nausea, panic attacks, or anxiety (Maida & Daeninck, 2016). This information proves the high potential of marijuana regarding the long-term conditions management and legalization of this substance can help to improve the quality of people’s lives.
Absence of Negative Effects
Another advantage of marihuana if to compare with medicines traditionally prescribed as painkillers is the absence of negative effects. For instance, CDC (2014) reports that the modern healthcare sector faces a significant problem of pills’ abuse. Patients who have to struggle against pain or are prescribed with anesthetics face a high risk of the development of addiction because of these pills nature.
They mostly use opioids that can cause serious damage to the central nervous system of a patient, his/her organs (Caulkins et al., 2016). At the same time, the overdose might result in lethal consequences. For this reason, the uncontrolled use of painkillers constitutes a serious problem of the healthcare sector. Marijuana does not have these effects as the mechanism of its interaction with the body is different. For this reason, there are no negative effects that emerge when other drugs are used.
It should also be said that the growing number of concerns related to the legalization of cannabis resulted in the emergence of a cohort of studies devoted to the in-depth analysis of adverse health effects that might emerge because of the substance’s heavy use. Thus, Volkow, Baler, Compton, and Weiss (2014) state that the short-term effects of cannabis use are not critical and can be disregarded while speaking about the medical use of the substance.
As for the long-term effects, they admit the lack of research papers devoted to the given issue (Volkow et al., 2014). However, using the existing literature, they come to the conclusion that the existence of negative long-term effects can be associated with particular lifestyle changes peculiar to marijuana smokers rather than to the pernicious impact of the substance itself. It also means that there are no barriers to the wide use and its legalization can be recommended.
Absence of Addiction
The absence of addiction is another critical element that can be used to support the main idea of the paper. The deterioration of individuals’ mental and physical states because of the dependence on the constant income of a substance is the main aspect that preconditions the negative perspective on all drugs including marihuana. However, the research among its users shows that they do not have indicators of addictive behaviors peculiar to other prohibited substance users (Caulkins et al., 2016).
In other words, it means that as against heroin and cocaine, cannabis does not result in the emergence of chemical bonds in the body that precondition the need for the constant income of this drug (Caulkins et al., 2016). It can be considered a potent argument of the legalization as the absence of addiction means a reduced level of threat to society.
One more research that delves into the problem of addiction and drugs outlines the possibility of using cannabis as the less dangerous substance to replace heroin or cocaine in people who already use it and avoid critical deterioration of their health. Contrary to the statement that marijuana smokers face the high risk of using other drugs because of the need of more powerful impact, Maida and Daeninck (2016) state that this abusive substance can help to reduce the number of addicted people by having similar effects on them but not resulting in the emergence of critical dependence. In such a way, legalization of marihuana can become an important step towards the improvement of the state of this problem as its accessibility might make people looking for some drugs use it and avoid all issues associated with other substances of this sort.
The idea of the outbreak of violent behaviors triggered by the legalization of marijuana can be refuted by the fact that the opposite tendency is observed. As it is already known, cannabinoids have a sedative impact on some functions of the body including the central nervous system and excitability (Caulkins et al., 2016). People smoking marijuana demonstrate less aggressive behaviors (Ferris, 2013). At the same time, the increased mood and improved psychological state precondition the absence of motifs to engage in conflicts and quarrels (Caulkins et al., 2016). In such a way, there is no credible evidence regarding the direct correlation between the legalization of marihuana and the rise in the number of undesired or asocial behaviors.
Nevertheless, there is a particular gap in knowledge related to the correlation between gender, marihuana smoking, and violent behavior. The existing literature is more focused on the investigation of males’ behavior under the impact of the given substance. Moreover, such aspect as gang involvement and criminal past are also considered while speaking about marihuana and violence (Caulkins et al., 2016).
Consideration of these aspects provides vague results as there is no direct answer whether cannabis remains the central cause for the emergence of aggressive inclinations in individuals in gangs (Caulkins et al., 2016). At the same time, gender differences can become a significant factor as males and females can respond to the substance in different ways (Ferris, 2013). However, there is still no credible evidence that cannabis triggers violent behaviors and promotes the rise of aggression.
Moreover, in states where marijuana is legalized, such as the Netherlands, or Canada, no crucial problems in various social domains are observed. On the contrary, free access to cannabis in Holland resulted in the reduction of tension related to this question. The decreased number of crimes associated with this aspect are reported (Walker, 2014). In general, the Netherlands can be considered a perfect example of the wise policy related to the distribution and smoking of marijuana.
Correctly realizing the impossibility of struggling against the spread of the given substance, the government created conditions for the implementation of its controlled sales (Walker, 2014). It became a beneficial decision as both individuals and the state enjoy multiple advantages that emerged after the legalization of cannabis and its free use.
Canada has recently accepted the law legalizing the use of marijuana, and there are no critical threats to the social order or other problems that have been traditionally associated with this alteration of legislation (Bilefsky, 2018). Moreover, by the latest reports, the government of Canada managed to generate $2 billion of income due to the provision of the access to cannabis to all people who want it (Bilefsky, 2018). At the same time, investigation of the environment within the state shows that at the moment the relief of tension because of the possible prohibition or legalization of cannabis can be observed. This fact evidences the absence of real grounds of the further prohibition of cannabis and the need for the federal support for this issue.
Finally, the government and the state can benefit from the decision to legalize marijuana. At the moment, despite the existing prohibition, there are many illegal agents selling the substance to individuals (Caulkins et al., 2016). It is a serious business that generates high revenues that remain hidden from the government. Federal support and elimination of barriers can destroy the basis of this trade and help the government to monitor the distribution and creation of drug. It also means that taxes from increased sales will come to the budget (Caulkins et al., 2016). This money can be devoted to the development of various projects including the improvement of the healthcare sector or the provision of the solution to other nagging problems.
Furthermore, legalization of marihuana can have a positive impact on relations between various groups within a state. It means that the accessibility of the drug will become a basis for the creation of new intercourse characterized by the lack of tension between various social groups and the improved cooperation between the government and other agents. Marginalized members of the community who previously had to live avoiding contacts with the local authorities can reconsider their behaviors and engage in relations with the other part of the society (Caulkins et al., 2016). The given fact proves the idea that legalization of marijuana can have a positive impact on all layers of communities by improving their cooperation and providing new opportunities to previously disregarded members.
However, there is another perspective on the problem stating that legalization of marijuana will have a critical impact on the society and destroy the basis for its further development by undermining the health of the nation and negatively affecting the youth. The bigger part of cannabis smokers is young people aged 18-25 which means that they face the highest risk of being affected by this substance (Greenhaven Press, 2016).
In such a way, it is critical to introduce even stricter laws regulating the raising and distribution of marihuana to avoid future problems and complication of the existing environment (Greenhaven Press, 2016). This perspective also presupposes the limited access to marijuana only for patients who have therapists’ prescription to use this substance to alleviate pain or avoid possible negative effects of treatment.
Additionally, the opponents of cannabis’ legalization emphasize the fact that scientist voting for the legalization of the drug outline only short-term effects of its use, while long-term ones remain understudied. It means that the provision of governmental support should be organized only if there is direct and credible evidence of the absence of prolonged side effects (Volkow et al., 2014). Moreover, there is the idea that the alterations in behaviors associated with cannabis use can become the part of persons’ personalities and precondition the emergence of drastic changes in their mentalities dangerous for the society (Volkow et al., 2014). The existence of the given opinion demonstrates the controversial character of the problem and the need for a detailed analysis to make a final conclusion.
The given assumption can be refuted by the fact that there is no scientific evidence of the fact that the use of marihuana destroys the health and result in the deterioration of mental abilities (Caulkins et al., 2016).
On the contrary, information provided above shows that in many cases smoking can be useful as it assists individuals in complex situations and helps to alleviate pain. For this reason, opponents of cannabis’ legalization utilize irrelevant sources and adhere to the outdated stereotypic patterns that consider this substance’s use an immoral act that should be prohibited because of the need to preserve the existing traditional patterns. However, this perspective should be replaced with the new one that emphasizes the benefits associated with this step.
Speaking about the assumption that the long-term effects of marijuana smoking on people remain understudied, several research papers outline the fact that regardless of the lack of statistical data related to the given aspect, the investigation of the peculiarities of the substance and the mechanism of its impact on the body of a person, it is possible to conclude, that there are no significant problems that can result in the deterioration of the state of the health of cannabis users in the future (Volkow et al., 2014). Moreover, there are studies that delve into the peculiarities of the given question; they assume that negative impact of marihuana cannot be compared to those of opiates or other drugs that are used today in the healthcare sector.
In such a way, the future of the given problem remains unclear. From one hand, there are multiple benefits associated with the legalization of marijuana and its use for different purposes. However, from another one, there is a traditionally powerful idea that the government should oppose the further spread of drugs to ensure that the youth and other people are protected from their negative impact (Walker, 2014). For this reason, there are still many disputable issues in this field. Regarding the positive experience of Netherlands and Canada, it is possible to predict a new wave of debates regarding the problem and the further reconsideration of the negative attitude to it.
Altogether, the problem of marijuana’s legalization has been a disputable issue for the last several years. Both opponents and adherers of the idea have their arguments that are used in discussions. However, multiple pieces of data evidence that contemporary society is ready for the elimination of barriers regarding the use of this substance. Moreover, it can benefit from this decision because of multiple positive aspects such as the ability to alleviate pain, help in chronic conditions, and decreased anxiety.
People who face the fear of death and have spiritual problems can also benefit from the simplified access to the given drug as its positive impact on their states is proven by multiple research papers that delve into the peculiarities of marijuana’s’ use in the healthcare sector. The absence of negative effects along with the non-addictive can also be used as the factors that prove the necessity to legalize this drug. It would lessen the strain in prisons and help to alleviate chronic pain in chemotherapy and other patients with incurable diseases. It can be considered an important task of the modern world that should be accomplished.
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