Running head: CONS OF LEGALIZING MARIJUANA 1 Cons of Legalizing Marijuana Karena Busch BCOM/275 July 30, 2012 Dr. Wayne Brock
CONS OF LEGALIZING MARIJUANA 2 Cons of Legalizing Marijuana There is a big debate on whether marijuana should be legalized or not and although theU.S. classifies marijuana as a Schedule l controlled substance (which means it has no acceptablemedical use), the glaucoma patients claim that smoking marijuana helps them to deal with thepain and relieves the symptoms of glaucoma, AIDS patients claim it helps with the loss ofappetite that accompanies AIDS, and cancer patients claim it helps them with their nausea that iscaused by their chemotherapy (acde,2010), but in no way shape or form should marijuana belegalized for recreational use! I will be arguing, “why marijuana should not be legalized” and back up my argumentwith facts that marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to other illegal drug usage and how itcontributes to criminal behavior, the many health disadvantages such as physical and mentalhealth disadvantages associated with smoking marijuana, along with the impact marijuana has onone’s daily life, and the increased traffic accidents and DUI’s while drugged driving. Used as a gateway drug: Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug worldwideand has been around for a long time. The source of marijuana is the hemp plant called “cannabissativa” that for more than 2,000 years ago, was being cultivated for psychoactive properties andcontains 400 different chemicals, with the main ingredient being THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) which is a mind-altering chemical (acde,2010). According to the American Council for Drug Education: Basic Facts about Drugs:Marijuana, “ sophisticated cannabis cultivated today produces more higher levels of THC andmarijuana and is far more potent than pot from the past with the THC content of marijuanabeing less than 1% in 1974 and rose to 4% by 1994.” The form of marijuana called sinsemilla,
CONS OF LEGALIZING MARIJUANA 3which is made from the flowering tops and buds of female plants contain “THC content of 7.5%and ranges as high as 24%.” The form of marijuana called hashish, which is resin that is madefrom the flowers of the female plant and “THC levels are 5 to 10 times higher than crudemarijuanas.” Marijuana is used often as a gateway drug that leads to other illegal drug use such ascocaine, heroin, and meth. According to studies made by institutions such as the NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “marijuana users use it thinking it is harmless, but it causes ahigh and then a bigger high is needed to have an effect, so people turn to harder drugs, such asthe one’s mentioned above” (NIDA, 2010). More potent and disabling substances are more likely to be used by individuals withmarijuana being used as a gateway drug and was found by The Center on Addiction andSubstance Abuse at Columbia University, “claim that adolescents who smoke marijuana are 85times more likely to use cocaine, than adolescents that do not smoke marijuana, and 60% ofyounger peers use marijuana before they turn 15 and later go on to use cocaine” (acde,2010).This gateway drug contributes to one’s criminal behavior because of their impaired judgment,altered decision-making, increased paranoia and hallucinations by contributing to the crimes oftheft, burglary, and robbery. Health disadvantages of one’s physical and mental health and effects marijuana hason one’s daily life: With physical health concerns, marijuana affects a person’s heart and lungs.When a person uses marijuana, their heart rate goes up by 20-100% after smoking marijuana andthe effect of marijuana can last up to 1-3 hours. The effect on a person’s lungs “the smoke frommarijuana contains 50-70% more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke andmarijuana users inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers, which
CONS OF LEGALIZING MARIJUANA 4increases the lungs’ exposure to carcinogenic smoke and smoking marijuana shows dysregulatedgrowth of epithelial cells in one’s lung tissue, which could lead to cancer” (Tashkin DP, 2005). According to one study, “it is estimated that marijuana users have a 4.8-fold increase inthe risk of a heart attack in the first hour after smoking marijuana” (Mittleman MA, Lewis PA,Maclure M, Sherwood JB, Muller JE, 2001), which is due to one’s heart rate being increased aswell as the effects of marijuana on one’s heart rhythms causing palpitations and arrhythmias,which is greater in the more older, aged population and in individuals that have cardiacvulnerabilities. In any case, people who smoke marijuana have the same respiratory problems assomeone who smokes cigarettes, such as phlegm production that comes from daily coughing,acute chest illness and soreness becomes more frequent, and the risk of lung infections is greatlyincreased (drugabuse, 2010). With this in mind, we need to ask ourselves, “How can ourgovernment justify the legalization of marijuana that has clearly been shown to be harmful to ourbodies, for recreational use?” Mental health disadvantage:The effects on one’s mental health when using marijuana isthat one develops impaired short-term memory, which makes it hard for an individual to learnand retain information, especially with regards to complex tasks, one has a more slower reactiontime and impaired motor coordination, which can throw off the performance of an athlete, impairone’s driving skills, and greatly increases the risk of injuries, one’s judgment is altered alongwith their decision making, which could lead to committing a crime or lead to sexual behaviorsbecoming high risk by leading to the spread of STD’s, and can alter one’s mood from euphoria tocalmness and in higher doses causing anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations (NIDA, 2010).
CONS OF LEGALIZING MARIJUANA 5 Effects on one’s daily life: According to research, marijuana causes problems in one’slife and/or makes one’s existing problems worse by exhibiting increased tardiness and absences,increase in accidents, increase in claims for workers’ compensation, and increase in job turnoverand according to one study, “ heavy marijuana abusers reported that the drug impaired manyimportant measures of life achievement, such as physical and mental health, cognitive abilities,social life, and career status” (Gruber AJ, Pope HG, Hudson JI, Yurgelun-Todd D, 2003) Increase in the traffic accidents and DUI’s due to drugged driving: As individuals,parents, and a society as a whole it is our responsibility to recognize and address the dangers thatcome from smoking marijuana and getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, which is calleddrugged driving! Marijuana is the most illicit and illegal drug that is being used and detected indrivers that are impaired, detected in fatally injured drivers, and detected in the crash victims of amotor vehicle, that is why our concern for drugged driving, which is driving under the influenceof ANY drug that acts on the brain could impairs one’s motor skills, reaction time, andjudgment, is so important and crucial! (NIDA, December 2010) According to Iowa law, where I reside, “it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle if there isANY detectable level of a prohibited drug, or its metabolites, in the driver’s blood” (NIDA,December 2010). There have been many studies examining illegal drug use in drivers that areinvolved in reckless driving, vehicle crashes, and/or accidents that are fatal. According to NIDA,“studies conducted that 4-14% of drivers that were hurt or unfortunately died in a tragicaccident, were tested positive for the active ingredient in marijuana, which is THC.” Additionally, according to Stephen J. Heishman, PhD, Research Psychologist at theNIDA “ Driving and marijuana does not mix; that the bottom line. The data from theselaboratory studies show that marijuana impairs balance and coordination-functional
CONS OF LEGALIZING MARIJUANA 6components important to driving-in a dose related way. These effects may be related to reportedmarijuana-induced impairment of automobile driving” (Stephen J. Heishman, 1995) andaccording to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), “Marijuana affects many skillsrequired to for safe driving: alertness, the ability to concentrate, coordination, and reactiontime. These effects can last up to 24 hours after smoking marijuana” (U.S. Drug EnforcementAdministration, December 19, 2005). .
CONS OF LEGALIZING MARIJUANA 7 ReferencesAmerican Council for Drug Education. (2010). Basic Facts About Drugs: Marijuana. Retrieved from http://www.acde.org/common/Marijuana.htmGruber, A. J., Pope, H. G., Hudson, J. I., &Yurgelun-Todd, D. (2003).Attributes of long-term heavy cannabis users: A case control study.Psychological Med, 33(8), 1415-1422.Heishman, S. J. (1995). Does marijuana use significantly impair driving ability even when not under the immediate effects of the drug? Retrieved from http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000233&print=trueMittleman, M. A., Lewis, R. A., Maclure, M., Sherwood, J. B., & Muller, J. E. (2001).Triggering myocardial infarction by marijuana.Circulation, 103(23), 2805-2809.National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).(2010, December).Drugged Driving. Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.govTashkin, D. P. (2005).Smoked marijuana as as cause of lung injury.Monaldi Arch Chest Dis, 63(2), 92-100.U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). (2005, December 19). Exposing the Myth of Medical Marijuana. Retrieved from http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000233&print=true