The subject of marijuana is one that is very touchy but, that is much so dependent on who you are talking with. Within the past few years, the drug has been approved for medical use all over the United States including: majority of the Northeast, Hawaii, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico and Arizona (just to name a few). Marijuana has also been approved for recreational use in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Utah. Even though it has been legalized in these states, it is still a federal crime to smoke, possess, or sell marijuana. The reason why I am choosing to write about this now is because of the “Does smoking cause lung cancer?” lecture that we had a few weeks back. I’ve been thinking about the similarities between that and the current situation we are at with marijuana. Will science be able to reduce the uncertainty of marijuana? Enough that the Federal Government will decriminalize the drug?
Marijuana’s scientific name is cannabis sativa which means “hemp plant”. The ingredient in this plant that creates the “high” is delta-9-tetrahydro-cannabinol which is also known as “THC”, according to my professor’s lecture about marijuana. According to the Federal Government, marijuana is a classified 1 drug. Other drugs that are in this category include heroin, LSD and ecstasy. According to my professor’s lecture about Marijuana, around 20 million people a year use marijuana, medical and recreational, in the United States. On April 17th, 2016, Pennsylvania hoped on the bandwagon and signed the medical marijuana bill to make it into a law.
According to this article, Wayne Hall investigated the health effect’s on adolescents from smoking marijuana between the years of 1993 – 2013. In summary, the regular use of marijuana increased the chances of dropping out of high school and becoming more dumb than your peers. Marijuana is known as being a “gateway” drug meaning it can possibly transition you to using harder more psychedelic drugs, such as Acid or Shrooms. Hall also mentioned some potential risks involved with marijuana including heart problems; however, there have been no reported cases of overdosing. Those that believe marijuana should not be legalized tend to stick to the facts. That it decreases productivity, increases concerns about workplace safety and that there has been a spike in positive drug tests in the workplace.
However, there are also some who believe marijuana should be legalized. Those who have “medical cards” are usually sick or have health issues. The usage of marijuana has lead to helping control seizures, decreased anxiety, and eases pain in those with physical ailments. According to this website , only 6% of studies on marijuana investigate it’s medicinal properties. A huge advance of legalizing marijuana is the ability to tax it. The tax revenue made from marijuana is so high in Colorado that residents sometimes receive a $10 check in the mail. The legalization of recreational usage is under much scrutiny because smoking too much marijuana can leave long lasting effects on an individual, as I mentioned earlier.
There are arguments for both sides. Smoking, eating, or watching too much of anything is not good for your health. In the end, I believe that in the next few years there will be a change in legislation, if it is decriminalizing it or enforcing new, more harsh regulations. Currently, there are just not enough studies or data for scientists to provide a definite argument (pro or con) for marijuana. Time is a huge factor. In the tobacco era, smoking cigarettes was considered healthy and beneficial at the time. It took twenty years for the public to believe scientists that smoking causes lung cancer which decreases life expectancy. I am very curious to see if the opposite will happen–since it is currently considered a benefit for health (if used in moderation). More longitudinal studies will need to be conducted to see if there is a positive or negative correlation between marijuana usage and health.
I know so many people have written about this but, I wanted to take another angle. Hopefully, I did! Thanks for reading!!
Professor’s Lecture: Matthew Bakowicz, RPTM 460: Political and Legal Aspects of Recreation Services. “Marijuana Lecture”. October 13th, 2016. No online lecture link available.