By Vivek Gurumoorthy
For many years, police forces around the U.S.A. and around the world have been cracking down on the use and distribution of drugs. In fact, in several areas, drugs have been the primary source of crime. Of the many illegal drugs that law enforcement has taken action against, marijuana has recently been a hot topic. Being a drug with both positive and negative effects, many opinions exist on both sides: whether marijuana should be legal or not. In the states of Colorado and Washington, this debate came to a head and culminated in the legalization of marijuana. This officially came into effect as of January 1st, 2014, and now, marijuana is readily available to consumers in these areas. However, the fact that marijuana is an addictive substance that can be hurtful and the recent increases in marijuana usage by teens are evidence that these legalizations have had a detrimental effect on these states.
Much of the debate about whether marijuana should be legal or not has stemmed from the positive medicinal properties that marijuana has. Through the developments of civilization, marijuana was often used as a staple healing drug, and recent studies have shown that it can be used in treatments for some of today’s diseases. For example, several studies designed to show the effects of marijuana in chemotherapy have been conducted, one specifically by the New York State Journal of Medicine. The study tested the effect of smoked marijuana when used as an antiemetic, or a drug to prevent nausea, when normal antiemetics couldn’t eliminate their symptoms. Seventy-eight percent of patients tested showed that they were positively influenced by this usage of marijuana. Therefore, from these studies, marijuana has shown a positive in certain medical cases. Although this may be true, marijuana has negative effects on the human body and has introduced many teenagers to drugs very early in their lives.
Every drug has some negative effects, and can be abused if used irresponsibly. Marijuana is no different. One well-known effect of many drugs is the “high” that comes from using them. Marijuana affects the endocannabinoid system of the brain that is associated with the senses and concentration, which is why high people do not have good awareness of their surroundings. Additionally, marijuana stimulates the heart to beat faster, increasing a user’s chance of cardiac arrest. Finally, marijuana is addictive, and if one gets addicted to it, they will constantly put themselves at risk of being affected by the above symptoms. Thus, marijuana is detrimental to the human body when used to get “high”.
In many schools, drug use often involves children peer-pressuring others into trying new things such as drugs and alcohol. With legalization of marijuana, this use of abusive substances in teenage years is growing steadily. Now businesses are opening doling out marijuana-infused brownies and cookies. Accessibility of the drug has skyrocketed. When harmful substances like marijuana are legalized, it gives many kids the false idea that drugs aren’t really bad for them, using to more use and subsequent abuse. Data was taken on marijuana usage of 12-17 year olds in Denver, and has already climbed from 9.62 to 12.2% in the span of 2006-2010, before marijuana was even legalized. This compares from the miniscule increase in the US average in the same time period, just 6-6.6%. Also, in many fatal car accidents, drivers are being found under the influence of drugs like marijuana. Lastly, marijuana is known as a gateway drug, as usage of marijuana could easily lead kids to use very harmful drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
In all, though marijuana may have a use in specific medical practices, it is harmful in the hands of ordinary people, and its legalization has given rise to more accessibility of drugs, increased drug usage, and a more likely possibility of kids progressing to more detrimental drugs. Hence, marijuana legalization has had negative effect on the states in which it was instilled, and the prospect of more legalization proposes risks to US citizens in other states.