Pro/Con: Marijuana

January 16, 2013

PRO

By Anthony Garcia

When people discuss the legality of drugs, its like talking to your parents about sex; its just plain awkward and feels wrong.

Yet in today’s society, talking specifically about the legalization of marijuana seems to be a more commonly accepted position.

And, the reasons for legalization aren’t because getting stoned is great thing to do or that it makes the world a happier place. There are legitimate, positive implications for the legality of pot.

Whether it’s for economic reasons, health effects, or anything in between, here are some reasons why the national legalization of marijuana can be a good thing:

Economic: If you haven’t been living under a rock, you probably have heard the United States and the government is in the midst of debt, and lots of it! According to a recent Yahoo.com finance article, the U.S. is over 16 trillion dollars in debt.

In order to alleviate that stress, many states have thought of turning to the legalization of marijuana, not necessarily encouraging recreational usage but for money from taxation the government could acquire from doing so.

In a 2011 International Business Times article, economics professor Katherine Wadlock from New York University noted that a legalization of drugs like marijuana would help save the country over $8 billion dollars.

According to Wadlock, if marijuana were taxed similarly to alcohol and tobacco, over $8.7 billion dollars in tax revenue would accrue.

“Legalization would reduce state and federal deficits by eliminating expenditure on prohibition enforcement — arrests, prosecutions, and incarceration — and by allowing governments to collect tax revenue on legalized sales,” Waldock wrote.

Already legal: Talk to residents of the states of Colorado and Washington, where legalization of pot has already happened.

Through Colorado Amendment 64 and Washington Initiative 502, people 21 years old and over have already been allowed to possess and use marijuana recreationally.

Even more, residents are now allowed to possess and grow up to six plants, illustrating the idea that using and possessing marijuana today really isn’t that big of a deal as it was 50 years ago.

While these states have amended their views on the drug federally, it is still considered illegal with these new laws facing push back from the government.

“This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through,” Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a 2012 Huffington Post article. “That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or goldfish too quickly.”

What ever happens in the future with the debate over marijuana, it’s safe to say that the United States would still function normally if marijuana was made legal federally.

 

CON

By Lauren Reiniger

When thinking about the possibility of drugs like marijuana becoming legalized federally I can’t help but to think about an infamous “war on drugs” commercial.

The image of an egg frying on a hot a pan along with the phrase “This is your brain on drugs” should be enough to steer people away from drugs.

If that doesn’t do it for you, listening to stories of how marijuana was a “gateway drug” for runaway drug addictions, broken families and even death should be the icing on the cake.

Rather than relying on generic horror stories about why drugs like marijuana are simply a bad idea, here are some reasons why marijuana would never be legalized:

Health Issues: According to a New York Times article Legalizing Marijuana Raises Health Concerns published on January 7, 2013, today’s marijuana is much more potent. The mean concentration of Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana has more than doubled between 1993 and 2008, potentially affecting memory and concentration even after the high is over.

Teenagers and young adults may be more vulnerable to addiction and those who start smoking marijuana at a younger age are at potentially higher risk.

Approximately one in six will become addicted and young adults who start smoking marijuana at earlier ages also tend to smoke much more often than those who start in their later teens, researchers say.

In users who develop a dependence or addiction, quitting can cause intense withdrawal symptoms, like anxiety, lack of sleep, lack of appetite, mood swings, irritability and depression.

New studies about early teenage use of marijuana showed that young adults who started smoking regularly before the age of 16, performed significantly worse on cognitive tests of brain function than those who had started later. They even performed particularly poorly on tests assessing executive function, which is responsible for planning and abstract thinking, as well as understanding rules.

Economy issues: Some say that legalizing marijuana will in fact hurt the economy rather than help it grow, since it would be impossible to regulate because the plant can be grown in your own backyard.

If people could grow marijuana in their own homes, there would be no money being made from it besides the dealers themselves. People could start their own businesses without paying taxes on the drug, hence not bring in any profit and wouldn’t help lower the debt.

Besides this, there would probably be more drug information programs that would have to be made to properly inform people. Drug education, treatment and rehabilitation programs would need greater support from the government, costing whatever profit was made from marijuana taxes.

The debate over the legalization marijuana has been raging for what seems like forever and its probably safe to say it will continue to do so in the future.

From this perspective, it just doesn’t seem like the pros outweigh the cons.