Marijuana should not be Legalized
Most of us have either seen or smoked marijuana, either in a recreational or medical setting. What is common about the drug, locally and internationally, is its illegal status. But this has not discouraged some people from partaking of the drug and the consequences for this legal disregard is socially and economically catastrophic. There exists a divide on opinion regarding the legal status of the drug with some loudly calling for its legalization especially in major powers like the US. The debate on the legalization of marijuana is not new and has raged for several decades with both the proponents and opponents of this motion using emotional appeal and factual evidence to back their claims. Marijuana is one of the most abused drugs across the world and the call for its legalization has a significant impact on governments and individuals. This has informed my opinion that marijuana should not be legalized since doing so will lead to increased addiction, social evils like crime and additional burdens to the world’s health care system through treatment of this addiction and drug induced accidents.
Marijuana is addictive and one of the most abused illegal substances in major cities across the world. Legalizing the drug will just increase addiction by making it readily available to the users and tempting non users to engage in its consumption. This will in turn lead to reduced productivity and increased social evils in form of crime since drugs reduce inhibitions. Education might also be affected either through teens dropping out of school or their performance being greatly affected by marijuana use. Those who have had the privilege to study in public universities here in Kenya will attest to the extent which student’s abuse the drug which they have ascribed nicknames like weed, bush, kush and “ndome.”This abuse leads to risky behaviors like experimentation with alcohol, other drugs and reckless engagement in dangerous sexual activities. Needles to say sustaining this addiction requires money and student’s who have no ready source of income result to dangerous behavior like robbery or prostitution to get cash for basic needs and marijuana. The side effects include increased AIDs prevalence, unwanted pregnancies and an increase in the rate of abortions.
Those calling for marijuana legalizations have citied taxation of the drug as a way for government to control its use and increase its revenue. However, statistics have shown that legalization of drugs does not increase its effective control or add revenue in relation to social cost as demonstrated by the two legal drugs; alcohol and tobacco. For instance, in the United States, the federal cost of attending to alcohol related conditions amounted to $185 Billion as compared to alcohol related revenue totaling $14.5 billion. Medical data collected in trauma wards have shown that most deaths and major injuries on our roads are caused by marijuana smoking drivers. Marijuana, like alcohol, impairs the judgment of the driver and the resultant effect is unnecessary carnage. Innocent lives are lost simply because a few people chose to engage in illegal fetish. What would happen then if the drug was made legal, how many innocent lives would the world lose under the hands of a few hedonistic individuals. How many more resources would we need to assign to treatment rather than focus on other welfare programs meant to make this world a better place? No, legalizing marijuana is not just impractical; it’s downright immoral.
Talks regarding the decriminalization of marijuana have been around for many years, but only became mainstream in 2000 with the founding of the Marijuana Party of Canada. For the majority of that time, many believed that a change in the drug’s status was a mere pipe dream suited to a fringe group that would never hold any power, real or imagined, in this country.
That belief was shattered when Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau announced he plans to legalize marijuana if he becomes Prime Minister next year. With that in mind, the question has again arisen: Should marijuana be legalized?
The answer is unequivocally no. Though proponents of legalization point out that there is big money to be made through taxation of the drug similar to how taxes are levied on cigarettes and alcohol — this idea ignores some very basic facts. For starters, marijuana already has an established black market trade which will restrict the amount of tax the government can place on such a product. If store-bought marijuana becomes overtaxed, people will fall back on this already established underground market.
What’s more, since most street marijuana has other drugs mixed into it, one may not get the desired effects that they are used to when using the store-bought products, which may lead them back onto the street even if the pricing is more reasonable.
Teen pot use is linked to a likelihood of incomplete education, suicide attempts and brain damage.
In addition, we are only beginning to discover some of the effects that continual use of marijuana can have on the body. While we may gain funds through taxation, most of that money may very well go right back into dealing with the myriad of health issues that smoking pot can cause. According to the American Lung Association, marijuana contains 33 chemicals that are known to cause cancer, and due to the lack of filters on joints, deposits four times as much tar into the lungs as an equal amount of tobacco.
There is also evidence to show that marijuana use can cause a host of other problems. Recent studies out of Australia and New Zealand analyzed data on close to 4,000 people, comparing those who had used pot with those who had not, and the results were staggering. Researchers found that frequent pot use by teens is linked to a greater likelihood of incomplete education, suicide attempts, and damage to brain development. In addition, they found that certain cognitive functions can suffer permanent damage as a result of frequent use.
This aligns with what other researchers have already discovered — there is a correlation between marijuana use and permanent brain damage, especially during adolescent use, when the brain is developing. Last year, Northwestern University scientists, led by Matthew Smith — an assistant research professor in psychiatry and behavioural sciences — discovered that parts of the brain related to short-term memory “seemed to collapse inward or shrink in people who had a history of daily marijuana use when compared to healthy participants.” So it actually does destroy your brain.
Finally, let’s keep in mind that the reason Mr. Trudeau gave for legalizing the drug was “to keep it out of the hands of our kids,” as if legalizing and regulating the drug will make a difference. As mentioned previously, the black market for pot will always exist, and when I was in high school, nobody seemed to have a problem getting ahold of cigarettes or alcohol, despite their regulation. The potential benefits certainly do not outweigh the risks.