Legalization of Marijuana Research Paper
The scent of marijuana enters the air as Chris Smith, a forty-three year-old woman from Trabuco Canyon, exhales a hit from her pipe. Smith has multiple sclerosis and credits smoking marijuana for relieving her muscle spasms and stopping the pain (Romney 1). Because Smith and many others like her smoke the drug for medicinal purposes, medical marijuana should be made legal in the United States. Many people in the United States are avid users of the drug because of pain or discomfort from pre-existing conditions. Dupont states that “marijuana, also spelled marihuana, is a drug made from the dried leaves and flowering tops of the hemp plant” (Dupont 201). The drug has many nicknames including grass, pot, weed, chronic and cannabis (Dupont 201).
Even though the drug has been available for thousands of years, it hasn’t been legal that long. Dupont says, “In the United States, marijuana use has been prohibited by state and local laws since the early 1900?s, and by federal law since 1937. In spite of these laws use of the drug became widespread during the 1960’s and 1970’s, especially among young people” (Dupont 201). The road to legal marijuana has been shortening over time though. Dupont states that “between 1969 and 1978, the federal government and many state governments reduced the criminal charge for possession of small amounts of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor” (Dupont 203). Certain states however went even further when they “substituted fines for jail sentences” (Dupont 204). But medical marijuana is not a legal drug in the US.
Most of the marijuana smoked in the United States is not for medicinal purposes. So then why do people in our society smoke marijuana? Well, most people smoke the drug to get high. Dupont says that “a marijuana high gives some people a false sense of having important new ideas and achieving a new understanding about life” (Dupont 201). It makes them feel important and like they have a purpose in life. Most people who begin smoking aren’t adults either; at least half of them aren’t even able to legally purchase cigarettes. But in fact, one author says that “most people who use marijuana begin to do so between the ages of twelve and eighteen. They try the drug because of curiosity. Some people believe marijuana improves talents and capabilities” (Dupont 201). But for whatever the reason is, people smoke, and are still smoking marijuana.
It has been documented that the effects of smoking marijuana can and will vary from person to person, and from time to time in the same person. The actual effects of smoking marijuana include physical and psychological reactions, and they can last anywhere from three to five hours prior to smoking. Your body’s physical reactions to marijuana include redness in the eyes and a rapid heartbeat. One source states, “The psychological reaction, known as a high, consists of changes in the user?s feelings and thoughts. Such causes are caused mainly by THC, a chemical found in marijuana that impairs brain function” (Dupont 201). Once the user has smoked the marijuana, he or she will soon begin to feel high. Dupont says, “In most cases, the high consists of a dreamy, relaxed state in which users seem more aware of their senses and feel that time is moving slowly” (Dupont 201). But being high is not always pleasant. Dupont states that ?often times smoking marijuana can produce a feeling of panic and dread. It really all depends on the concentration of THC in the marijuana. The presence or THC is not all that affects the user. The same source states that, “other factors, such as the setting in which marijuana is used and the user’s expectations, personality, and mood, also affect a person’s reaction to the drug” (Dupont 201).
In recent years it has been discovered that marijuana, when smoked, can help aid many different medical conditions. Marijuana is said to help glaucoma, which is a degenerative eye disease and the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Patients say that marijuana reduces pressure on the eye, alleviates pain, and slows the progression of the disease. Marijuana also helps aid patients. It is said to reduce pain, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. More so, marijuana is credited for reducing spasms in multiple sclerosis patients, preventing seizures in patient with epilepsy and for reducing pain in cancer patients due to chemotherapy (Somdahl 41). Medical marijuana itself has made some improvements on the road to legalization. In the year of 1992, seventy seven percent of the voters from Santa Cruz, California voted for a measure ending the prohibition of medical marijuana. (Mendoza 1). In 1996 voters in both California and Arizona passed laws making marijuana legal for health purposes. Under these laws, marijuana can be used only if a doctor recommends it (Somdahl 42). There have been many aspiring accounts of marijuana helping an individual to better his or her life. One such account is of Robert Randall. Gorman states, in September, 1972 Robert Randall, an aspiring speech writer from Washington D.C, was diagnosed with glaucoma and placed on the standard medical treatment. Unfortunately he developed drug tolerances to drug therapy and his sight, which already suffered from massive damage to both eyes, continued to degenerate. By early 1974 he was approaching maximum allowable doses. His disease was out of control. But in the fall of 1973, Randall, a former marijuana user who hadn’t smoked since his diagnosis, smoked two joints someone had given him before going to bed one night. When he got done Randall said that he looked out his window at a streetlight and there were no tri-colored halos like there usually were when the pressure in his eyes built up. After six months of experimentation, he’d incorporated marijuana into his medical — without telling his doctor. For the first time his disease began to become under control” (Gorman 1). Randall continued his search for relief from glaucoma and Gorman states, In December 1975, Randall underwent a thirteen day controlled experiment at UCLA under the direction of Dr. Robert Helper, to test the efficiency of marijuana in glaucoma therapy. The study concluded that left on conventional therapy, Randall would either go blind or be forced into risky surgery. The conclusions of a second set of tests, conducted at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University in March 1976 — during which he was given the most effective drugs used in glaucoma therapy but no marijuana — were that Randall was a candidate for immediate surgery” (Gorman 2). Gorman states, “Following that test, and using the conclusions of both, in May 1976 Randall petitioned the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for immediate access to medical marijuana. In November 1976, NIDA, FDA, and DEA jointly agreed to provide through DR. John Meritt at Howard University in Washington D.C. The federal government continued to supply Randall with medical marijuana until January 1978 – when his supply was abruptly cut off following his refusal to stop speaking publicly about his medication. Randall launched a suit to require legal medical marijuana in May of that year. The Federal Government agreed to an out-of-court settlement and the compassionate IND program was born. The IND program established a precedent by which patients, through their doctors could be provided access to a drug prior to its approval for marketing. Randall has been receiving three hundred marijuana cigarettes per month ever since as part of his medical therapy, and with the exception of the short period in early 2978 when his supply was interrupted, his glaucoma has remained stable. Though his sight is limited, he has not gone blind” (Gorman 2).
As far as statistics go in general marijuana is a widely used drug. Also it is found by the National Academy of Sciences that 32% of the U.S. population over twelve years of age had tried marijuana at least once but only 5% were current users (Lowery 37). In 1990 a study of 2,430 cancer specialists from the American Society for Clinical Oncology showed that 48% said that they would prescribe marijuana if it were available and 44& admitted that they had already prescribed marijuana illegally (Gorman 6). It has also been recently stated by the Atlanta Journal Constitution that, “there is no evidence that marijuana leads to harder drugs such as heroin, nor is there evidence that allowing patient to use pot increases illegal drug use among the general public” (Editorial).
When most people think of marijuana, they think in drugs in general and this in turn leads people to believe that marijuana is deadly and highly dangerous when it’s really not. As a matter of fact Lowry states, “According to common estimates, alcohol and tobacco kill hundreds of thousands of people a year. In contrast, there is a practical matter no such thing as a lethal dose of marijuana” (Lowry 37). So this means that the cocaine dealers are in jail for involuntarily killing people, but the marijuana dealers are in jail for what? Selling stress relievers? It really makes no sense to send people to jail for using a drug that, in terms of it’s harmfulness, should be categorized somewhere between alcohol and tobacco on one hand and caffeine on the other (Lowry 37).
Several different arguments are now arising supporting the legalization of marijuana. Supporters of legalization are now arguing that if drugs were legally available at low prices, drug dealers would go out of business and much drug-related crime would end. Musto states that “in addition, the billions of dollars spent on law enforcement could be devoted to drug education and treatment programs” (Musto 365). There are also different ideas; Musto says that “instead of legalization, some people suggest changing the law so that possession of small amounts of drugs would not be treated as a criminal offense.” Musto goes on to say that “such changes, called decriminalization, would make personal use of drugs legal or subject to only a small fine. Errors to arrest drug traffickers would continue, however” (Musto 365).
Even though there are some people for medical marijuana, most are against it. Those who are against argue that marijuana will interfere with a person’s judgment and coordination. This in turn impairs a user’s ability to drive an automobile under the influence of marijuana. Dupont states that “studies have shown that some people who have used marijuana regularly for several months or longer develop serious problems. Use of marijuana harms memory and motivation” (Dupont 201). As a matter of fact many farms and clubs for medical marijuana in parts of California are being busted. Richard Meyer of the Drug Enforcement Agency even states that he was shocked that city leader would even use of marijuana that way. Referring to a pot giveaway in Santa Cruz, California where medical marijuana is welcome (Mendoza 1).
Even though there aren’t many people who believe in legalizing marijuana, those who are believers, are firm believers. The Canada Committee is strong believers in legal marijuana. Lowry states that “the committee recommends that cannabis should be from here on in legal and of restricted use, so that Canadians can choose whether to consume or not in security” (Lowry 37). The Senate Committee believes the government should wipe clean the records of marijuana possession. The chair of the committee even said that there is no good reason pot smokers should be subject to criminal law. The committee goes on to conclude that cannabis is less harmful than alcohol and rejects the idea that smoking pot leads to harder drugs (Lowry 37). Part of the U.S, also shares a similar opinion. According to the Institute of Medicine, most people who use marijuana even with moderate frequency don’t go on to use any other illegal drug. Going more in depth the Institute says that, “there is no evidence that marijuana serves as a stepping stone on the basis of its particular physiological effect” (Lowry 37).
My own opinion towards the issue of making medical marijuana legal is to side with those that believe marijuana is a good drug for certain diseases. After researching many disorders and finding out how much pain they all can cause and finding out that marijuana can help ease pain and also help to solve these diseases I had to agree with those for legalizing medical marijuana. I believe it will solve more problems than it could ever cause.
Now picture yourself as a cancer patient. You have to donate almost all of your time to this lethal disease. Imagine having to go through all those painful chemotherapy treatments, and then being so weak because you can’t eat. But if only you would eat and gain energy back, and at least feel somewhat better. Medical marijuana should be legal to patients whose lives will be greatly improved because of it.
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