Marijuana, or Cannabis, is a term used to indicate one of the products of the Cannabis sativa plant. The hallucinogenic properties of the leaves and flowers of the Cannabis sativa plant were discovered more than 2,000 years ago in Asia. History tells that Cannabis seeds were found in the ancient burial places in central Asia (Farrell et al. 1). The dry, shredded leaves and flowers of the hemp plant are usually smoked in the pure state in cigarettes, pipes, and water pipes, or in a mixture with tobacco. Cannabis leaves also can be used in tea brewing. The oil-based extract of the Cannabis plant is used in cooking and cosmetics (Volkow et al. 2219). In 1961, the United Nations’ Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs declared Cannabis a controlled drug.
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In most states, the possession, sale, and cultivation of Cannabis are illegal, but such countries as Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, etc., make an exception in case if the plant is cultivated for medical and scientific purposes. Nowadays, the opinions on the matter of its legality are divided. There is a common belief that marijuana, as much as the other drugs, has an adverse impact on the human body, specifically the brain and lungs. However, physicians report that if prescribed appropriately, the Cannabis plant and cannabinoid medicine can positively affect human health by improving the appetite and alleviate cancer and chronic pain as well as spasticity. Besides, the legalization of the marijuana industry will create an extensive number of jobs and will help to improve the economic situation. Although the scientific and medical use of marijuana has already been legalized in a range of countries, it should be authorized across the geographic spectrum since it has a potential to alleviate symptoms of a large number of diseases such as cancer, neuroses, sleep, and anxiety disorders, etc. as well as decrease crime and unemployment rates.
The use of the cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic and cancer pain, as well as spasticity, has proved to be efficient in most cases because they affect those brain regions, which are responsible for pain perception (Farrell et al. 2). Besides, these chemicals improve appetite and help patients gain weight, and can be used for the treatment of anorexia and wasting syndrome (Farrell et al. 3). There are capsules and sprays with the cannabinoids in those countries, where marijuana is considered illegal and is controlled by the healthcare community. Nowadays researchers study the possibilities of oral, sublingual, and topical administration of the cannabinoids for the patients with such diseases as glaucoma, nausea, epilepsy, sclerosis, psychosis, anxiety disorders, depression, sleep disorders, HIV/AIDS, and Tourette syndrome (Whiting et al. 2464).
It has been found that the cannabinoids may help alleviate symptoms of these diseases; however, medical science does not possess significant knowledge about the required dosages and conditions for their administration so far. The main counterarguments of marijuana consumption opponents are the inflammation of the large airways, which can result in lung hyperinflation, cancer, and the breakdown of brain cells. However, as it has already been stated, modern medicine allows for oral, sublingual, and topical administration of the cannabinoids that do not destroy large airways and lungs. As for the common belief that the cannabinoids lead to addiction, recent studies have shown that only certain brain regions are susceptible to the adverse long-term effects of Cannabis (Volkow 2220). Furthermore, according to the statistics, only 10% of those who consume marijuana become addicted, which may be attributed to various external factors such as debilitated general condition, individual susceptibility, and use of dangerous drugs (Volkow et al. 2225). Thus, the public concern about the adverse effects of marijuana on health may be understood; however, it turns out that most of the arguments do not have significant evidence and slightly exaggerated.
The consideration of the problem of marijuana legalization from the perspective of public safety involves such points as crime rates and traffic accidents. The recent empirical study of possible effects of marijuana legalization in California has shown no evidence that the legalization of Cannabis will completely alleviate crime. However, Fisher claims that there is no evidence that marijuana legalization would increase the crime rate as well (22). Therefore, the misconception connected with cannabis negatively influencing crime rates should be thrown away from the discussion about public safety since there is no substantiated support for it. Moreover, the experiment proved the hypothesis that the Cannabinoids might serve as a decent substitute for alcohol, which in turn may reduce the number of car accidents by 8-11%, especially among adolescents (Fisher 23).
Despite the fact that the consumption of cannabis cannot be regarded as the most efficient substitution of alcohol, the legalization of marijuana may become the first step towards reducing alcoholism rates. The Colorado marijuana legalization experience has shown a 5.2% decrease in violent crime and 10.1% decrease in overall crime (Wen et al. 27). Thus, the findings of Wen et al. suggest that the legalization of marijuana can reduce the rate of criminal activities since the possession or purchasing of cannabis would not be considered unlawful. As seen from the empirical evidence, there is no strong argument to be made against legalization of marijuana with regards to the considerations of public safety. Since marijuana did not have any significant effect on the increase of crime rates and even contributed to the overall rates’ decrease in the investigated region, it can be asserted that the legalization of Cannabinoids should not have the level of opposition it currently has. Moreover, the issues of public safety such as crime rates and traffic accidents are predominantly associated with the consumption of alcohol and heavy drugs since they present a greater threat to the community.
The legal distribution of the cannabinoids may result in considerable tax profits and creation of new jobs, solving the problem of unemployment rates, including even those among marijuana consumers. Back to the Colorado marijuana legalization experience that started in 2014 with full legalization of a drug and the opening of the first shop that retailed its cultivated Cannabis, the interested observer may notice that the results of the experiment proved to be higher than expected. The legal recreational distribution of the Cannabis provided almost $19 million of profits and approximately $10 million of taxes; in addition, nearly 10,000 currently work in the marijuana industry (Wen et al. 37). The widespread legalization of the cannabinoids for medical purposes in a variety of forms will allow creating more jobs with the construction of manufacturing facilities and the establishment of research and development programs.
After the legalization of the Cannabis across the geographic spectrum, the number of scientific studies will be increased which will speed up the research on possible effects of marijuana use for treatment of an extensive number of diseases such as glaucoma, nausea, epilepsy, sclerosis, psychosis, anxiety disorders, depression, sleep disorders, HIV/AIDS, and Tourette syndrome. The international healthcare will benefit because currently, the knowledge of the Cannabis healing properties requires further research. Given the fact that most crimes and car accidents take place due to alcohol abuse, and marijuana may serve as an effective substitute for alcohol, the crime rates will be decreased. The fact of economic benefits of the Cannabis legalization is also apparent: marijuana industry will provide significant profits and jobs. Thus, medical marijuana legalization is not advantageous but even crucial step for the present day world.
Farrell, Michael. “Should Doctors Prescribe Cannabinoids.” British Medical Journal, vol. 348, no. 1, 2014, pp. 1-5.
Fisher, Camille. “The Effects of Medical Marijuana on Crime Rates and Substance Abuse in California.” eScholarship, Web.
Volkow, Nora et al. “Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use.” The New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 370, no. 23, 2014, pp. 2219-2227.
Wen, Hefei et al. “The effect of medical marijuana laws on marijuana, alcohol, and hard drug use.” National Bureau of Economic Research, no. 20085, Spring 2014, pp. 1-45.
Whiting, Penny et al. “Cannabinoids for Medical Use: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” The Journal of American Medical Association, vol. 313, no. 24, 2015, pp. 2456-2473.