Nineteen states have legalized marijuana use for medicinal purposes, and four states have passed laws that allow for the complete legalization of marijuana. Still, the issue is being hotly debated among lawmakers and everyday people, and many only see one side of the argument. Here's a closer look at some of the arguments for and against legalization:
Arguments for Marijuana Legalization - Pros of Marijuana
Proven Health Benefits - There have been many studies that have produced positive results regarding the benefits of marijuana for the treatment of various diseases. In particular, there is scientific evidence to support the usage of marijuana for relieving diabetic neuropathy pain, nausea due to chemotherapy, muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis, seizures due to epilepsy, digestive symptoms due to Crohn's disease, and for tremors due to Parkinson's disease. Many advocates of legalization argue that the drug should be made readily available, so that people who are sick can have access to it.
Low Risks - Many people who support marijuana legalization argue that the risks of usage are very minimal. For example, it is believed that it is impossible to overdose from using too much marijuana. The biggest risks associated with the drug are accidents due to impairments in judgment and perception. Advocates argue that laws making it illegal to drive after using marijuana could minimize these risks.
Financial Benefits - Advocates of marijuana legalization point out that states can potentially increase revenues through taxing the sale of the drug. Colorado's legalization of pot seems to validate this argument. Between January 14 and mid-February, the state had already made $53 million in tax revenue off of legal marijuana sales. Monies raised could be used to fund programs for education, improve infrastructure, and make up for budget deficits, proponents of legalization argue.
Better Control - People who argue in favor of marijuana legalization often state that legalization would enhance control over the pot to ensure that what is sold is pure, safe, and of good quality. Those who make this type of argument often state that people who currently use marijuana could be at risk of getting bad drugs that have been tainted with more dangerous substances.
Continue reading some articles on legalizing marijuana here.
Arguments Against Marijuana Legalization - Cons of Marijuana
Addiction Concerns - Studies show that roughly 9 percent of the people who use cannabis regularly will develop a marijuana addiction, or a physical dependence on the drug. Those who oppose legalization often state that all addictive substances should be banned; however, proponents of legalization counter with the fact that other substances with much higher rates of addiction, including products that contain nicotine, and alcohol, are perfectly legal.
Gateway Drug - Some people believe that marijuana is a gateway drug, meaning that using it could lead people to use harder, more dangerous drugs. Advocates of legalization argue that there hasn't ever been a study to prove that using marijuana actually causes people to use other drugs.
Immorality - People may oppose marijuana use because it conflicts with their personal morals or religious beliefs. Those who argue in favor of legalizing marijuana state that in the United States, people should be free to make their own moral choices, not have them dictated by others.
Dangers to Children - Individuals who oppose marijuana legalization may worry about the drugs getting into the hands of children and teens. Advocates counter that legalization would actually make it more difficult by putting illegal drug dealers out of business, and moving the sales to respectable businesses that would refuse to sell to minors.
Continue reading about risks of marijuana use here.
Know Symptoms of addiction (Addiction is a disease)
Regardless of whether you're personally for or against the legalization of cannabis, it's important to be aware of the symptoms of addiction if you or someone that you love uses marijuana habitually. Some signs of addiction include:
If you or someone you know may be addicted to marijuana or any other substance, you can call the national drug addiction hotline at 1-800-662-HELP. The service is free and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To learn why people use marijuana go here.