The Smoking Debate: To Legalize or Not Legalize Marijuana

 

Since its inception into the mainstream world, marijuana, commonly known as (weed or pot) has become one of the greatest controversial debates in the society.

One cannot speak about marijuana without sparking a ferocious debate especially among people who do not support the use of marijuana. It is in fact almost a taboo to bring up the topic on marijuana or support for its legalization or use within many households.

Growing up, many children are cautioned against the use of drugs and the negative effects of such an engagement. The term used is that ‘All drugs are bad for you’ and parents have religiously aimed to instill this ideology in children who have often taken their parents’ words as gospel truth.

However, children grow up and experience all kinds of social exchanges that disintegrate their ideologies and beliefs, further challenging their parents’ gospel truth. The use of marijuana is the latest challenge most parents are facing.

Cannabis is today’s most controversial drug across the global, mainly due to its existence tangled in a bizarre battle of legality by both pro and anti-users of the substance. As long as we can remember, we have known marijuana as a harmful drug.

We were taught in schools, as well as in religious and social gatherings, that the use of Marijuana amounts to drug abuse which has dire negative effects that can affect the physical and mental well-being of an individual.

Before I proceed further, I feel the need to make a disclaimer. I personally do not support drug and substance abuse due to the adverse effects they cause, which many, I have witnessed. I have also never partaken in smoking marijuana and do not foresee that happening in future but I have interacted with many people who are active smokers.

Having said that, the following information is not based on mere opinions on whether I like weed or not, but rather an analysis of facts (that are available publicly) that many people shy away from addressing.

Undoubtedly, marijuana is causing a huge ripple in our lives and that of our children, and it is important to get the facts right before we can make a decision on whether to legalize or not legalize. There have been slander, truth, misconceptions, and revelations surrounding the use and legality of cannabis that requires sober insight into what-has-been, was and the future of this drug in impacting our society.

What Is Marijuana?

Marijuana is a wholly natural substance that is derived from cannabis in the form of shredded dry flowers, seeds and stems and smoked like a cigarette to cause relaxation.

This natural cannabis plant places grows in many places around the world as it does not require a specific set of climatic conditions and grows in the same way trees or other natural vegetation grow. The key word in the definition of marijuana is its natural nature.

In this case, marijuana is free from any chemical or generic modifications. Many of marijuana users refer to cannabis as a herb, comparing it to natural growing spices and herbs. There are numerous alternative names that are used to refer to marijuana depending on different regions across the globe. However, ‘weed’ and ‘pot’ are a common slang across different regions as an alternative name for marijuana.

Why Does Marijuana Matter?

A highly used drug and readily available, marijuana has sparked endless debate everywhere with governments and other stakeholders caught up in the confusion on whether or not to legalize it.

According to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2004), it is estimated that over 162 million persons, which is equivalent to 4 percent of the world’s adult total population consume marijuana on an annual basis.

Additionally, every year the thousands of new users are introduced to the drug that is smoked both adults and youths. Surprisingly, even the mainstream media today such as TV shows, movies and music are increasingly showcasing a love for the use of marijuana.

The society can no longer turn a blind eye to its existence, prompting an opportune time to critically evaluate the history, effects, and impact of marijuana other than relying on other peoples’ opinions that may distort the truth due to personal interests.

What is the History of Marijuana and its Use?

For many years, humans have sought to find alternative ways of relieving daily stresses of life struggles. With stress levels becoming a hindrance in allowing many people to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, marijuana has become an alternative stress relief for many people across the world.

As such many users of marijuana use the drug for recreational purposes rather than drug abuse. If history serves its purpose well, written references date back to over 5,000 years ago when western medication discovered and embraced the medicinal properties of the plant.

Prior to the introduction of technological advances, marijuana was also highly recommended for its medical benefits and widely used as an atheistic. Many surgical operations depended on the relaxing effects of marijuana to carry out the procedures with minimal pain on the patient.

Between the 18th century and 20th century, numerous prominent physicians and medical researchers had published a vast number of western medical literature on the different benefits of marijuana in treating disorders such as pain relief and nausea.

However, as more of it became readily available to individuals by the end of the 20th century, the economic value of having marijuana in circulation became a threat to booming business cartels in the pharmaceutical industries.

Given its natural nature, it was evidently impossible to control and commercialize the plant. Therefore, the best option in controlling marijuana involved governments taking a formal step in banning and criminalizing the use of marijuana, keeping in mind that marijuana was not illegal or criminalized before.

Is Medicinal Marijuana Good Enough of a Reason?

 

The legality battle on the case for and against cannabis has played out against a backdrop of startling scientific/medical uncertainties. According to current studies into the drug, researchers indicate there’s evidence that marijuana might help those with long-term pain, multiple sclerosis, and seizures.

Considering that marijuana is derived from a natural plant, they’ve found that some human cells have receptors wired to effectively respond to the active chemicals of the drug, making it an ideal option to use in treating various medical conditions such as pain relief, nausea relief especially among AIDS and cancer patients, and an appetite stimulant.

It also has the ability to lower the intramuscular pressure. Moreover, despite making the eyes appear red; marijuana has shown effectiveness in treating glaucoma which is a leading cause of vision impairment and blindness in the world.

Conducting these scientific studies to prove these medical claims, however, is a tall order. In retrospect, to take on something peddled on the street, whether illegally in plastic bags or legally in cookies and turn it into a medical revolution is a tough battle full of so much heat on both sides of the coin.

To Legalize or Not to Legalize?

I think this is where all the battles for and against Marijuana converge to really discover the length value and impact of marijuana in our lives. First of all, let’s all agree that marijuana is indeed a drug, either a natural drug, herbal drug, medicinal drug, illegal drug, all depending on which side of the fence you are standing on.

To argue otherwise, only complicates the facts on the table, making the case for marijuana more controversial than it should be.

The block on legalizing marijuana takes two extreme sides. The proponents of use and legalization of marijuana emphasize that there are numerous medicinal and relaxation benefits of marijuana.

Additionally, they argue that marijuana is simply less harmful than alcohol or tobacco with minimal aggressive side effects. Therefore, suggesting that the government’s illegalization and criminalization of the drug is a great infringement of personal freedom and personal choice.

In addition, proponents of the drug insist that various attempts by governments and other stakeholders in illegalizing and criminalizing the use of marijuana has over the years failed to achieve its impact and rather caused more problems in the society.

The number of arrests conducted in relation to uses, possession, and smuggling of marijuana is on a disturbing increase. Efforts to prohibit the use of the drug have not indicated fruitless reduction on its use due to its availability to anyone.

As such, they propose that by legalizing marijuana and eliminating the federal laws against its possession will mean there will be less crime-related arrests and properly structured systems of controlling the sale of marijuana to minors which is a more effective approach.

Furthermore, where traditional medicine is claimed to provide relief for many patients suffering from chronic diseases, the argument among many marijuana supporters is that, what can it hurt to try something that’s has existed for years, that might give relief for such patients where nothing else has worked?

The opponents of the drug, on the other hand, argue that marijuana is a drug that is too harmful and dangerous to be readily available. They further insist that as a drug, marijuana affects the psychological function of a person and would even be more dangerous if it falls into the hands of teenagers and children.

Hence, the drug should not be made legal. Moreover, these opponents firmly believe that the use of marijuana progresses to the abuse of other drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

The legalization of the drug has suffered various blockages from government leaders and communities in Africa, who solemnly believe that there is no good that can be attained by legalizing marijuana.

Additionally, they argue that marijuana is simply less harmful than alcohol or tobacco with minimal aggressive side effects. Therefore, suggesting that the government’s illegalization and criminalization of the drug is a great infringement of personal freedom and personal choice.

In addition, proponents of the drug insist that various attempts by governments and other stakeholders in illegalizing and criminalizing the use of marijuana has over the years failed to achieve its impact and rather caused more problems in the society.

The number of arrests conducted in relation to uses, possession, and smuggling of marijuana is on a disturbing increase. Efforts to prohibit the use of the drug have not indicated fruitless reduction on its use due to its availability to anyone.

As such, they propose that by legalizing marijuana and eliminating the federal laws against its possession will mean there will be less crime-related arrests and properly structured systems of controlling the sale of marijuana to minors which is a more effective approach.

Furthermore, where traditional medicine is claimed to provide relief for many patients suffering from chronic diseases, the argument among many marijuana supporters is that, what can it hurt to try something that’s has existed for years, that might give relief for such patients where nothing else has worked?

The opponents of the drug, on the other hand, argue that marijuana is a drug that is too harmful and dangerous to be readily available. They further insist that as a drug, marijuana affects the psychological function of a person and would even be more dangerous if it falls into the hands of teenagers and children.

Hence, the drug should not be made legal. Moreover, these opponents firmly believe that the use of marijuana progresses to the abuse of other drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

The legalization of the drug has suffered various blockages from government leaders and communities in Africa, who solemnly believe that there is no good that can be attained by legalizing marijuana.

According to Norah, a psychiatric nurse at Mathari Mental Hospital, marijuana just like any other drug and alters a person’s judgment and perception to a given level. It has psychological effects such as panic feelings, anxiety, depression, psychosis, social problems and even suicidal thoughts.

She explains that the composition of cannabis is a huge risk factor for mental illness, stating that many of the mental patients admitted at the hospital suffer from mental conditions that are attributed to the prolonged use of marijuana, with the impacts of addiction being far more reaching than many people understand.

From a medical point of view, while she agrees that there is some medicinal value attached to the drug, the legalization of it is a total fault especially on governments and stakeholders, who are supposed to promote an environment that is conducive for the physical and mental wellness of each citizen.

”Saying we legalize marijuana is turning a blind eye to the mental illness associated with the drug that is crumbling the lives of our children and to use medicinal value as an argument is to say we might as well hand morphine to our children. There are legal medical drugs that effectively relieve pain”, says Norah.

But then the debate takes on a truly unexpected turn. Amid the ongoing national fight against drugs, there are countries globally that are leading an active revolution to legalize marijuana, if not for any other reason, then at least for medical use.

As the revolution moves closer home, as a country we need to have these tough conversations with government authorities, policy makers, religious and community leaders, parents as well as our children.  The facts have been laid down on the table, we cannot afford to ignore this conversation because marijuana is everywhere around us.

We would love to hear your opinion on this topic? Are you an advocate or opponent of the legalization of marijuana, and why? And as parents, would you allow your child to smoke weed if it is made legal in the near future? Join in the conversation and hopefully we will find a neutral stand regarding the big smoking debate.

 

 

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