The Marijuana argument

What is the reasoning behind the classification of marijuana as a ‘dangerous’ and ‘illegal’ drug? Does the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) give any good, solid reasoning as to why they classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug? A lot of people have said that marijuana should be decriminalized and/or legalized. Those people are sometimes attacked with this counter-argument: “But if you legalized it, that means everyone could smoke it….including children!” Alcohol is legal, but it’s legal WITH CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS. Some of those restrictions are as follows:

1.You cannot operate a motor vehicle after having consumed a certain amount of alcohol.
2.Alcohol can be consumed in your own home, but not in public, unless it is in an establishment licensed to sell and distribute liquor (i.e. a bar or pub)
3.You must be of a certain age in order to legally consume alcohol (in B.C.: 19, Alberta: 18, the U.S.: 21, etc.)

I propose that marijuana be de-criminalized and then legalized WITH CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS (perhaps using the three bullet points above as a guideline). Of COURSE I don’t want to see children smoking marijuana, and neither do I want to see them consuming alcohol! Can you see where I’m going with this?

Some say that marijuana can cause health problems if used long-term…so can cigarettes and alcohol! But here is the difference between cigarettes and marijuana: marijuana can produce an altered state of consciousness, just as alcohol can. Cigarettes cannot. You can smoke cigarette after cigarette and it won’t get you ‘high’ like marijuana can.

There will be those who will say, “But I don’t want to have to deal with people who are high on marijuana in public”. Nor do I want to deal with people who are intoxicated from alcohol in public! In the case of alcohol, it’s called “public intoxication” and is a criminal offence for which you can be charged. I believe that, if you’re high (due to marijuana) in public, you should be charged under the same “public intoxication” law.

If you’re going to argue in favour of marijuana legalization, don’t use that tired old excuse (“Because we wanna get high, man!”); it would be no different with people who wanted alcohol legalized because “We wanna get drunk, man!” Look, alcohol is legal under the pretence that it’s a “social beverage” and that it’s consumed during “social interaction” with “other patrons” in places like bars and pubs; it’s also served at sports venues (although under what pretence I’m not sure…“for personal enjoyment while watching the game”?). YES, a lot of people consume alcoholic beverages in order to get “buzzed” or “drunk”, but that can be seen as a definition of “alcohol abuse”. The same thing could be said of marijuana: if you want to smoke it to get high, you’re abusing the drug. No one is forcing you to consume alcohol in public places such as bars or pubs. It is YOUR CHOICE whether or not you want to have a drink (or a few). I realize there are people addicted to alcohol and I’m not referring to those people in this case. You are allowed to consume alcohol at a certain age with the assumption that you know what its effects will be on your body, and you are solely responsible for what you do under those effects. Bartenders have responsibilities too, such as cutting you off when you are showing signs of excessive alcohol consumption, and I have read that, as a bartender, you are responsible for your patron while you are serving them in your establishment.

Speaking of which, there are some people who may have serious adverse effects when consuming alcohol (the body instantly rejecting it, for example; some people’s bodies do not take kindly to alcohol). The same COULD be said for marijuana, but is that really a reason for it remaining illegal?

Marijuana as a “gateway drug”: this could be said of alcohol as well. You may do things that you wouldn’t normally do under the effects of either alcohol or marijuana; that doesn’t mean one is more dangerous than the other. Education plays a role as well. And I don’t mean scare tactics and propaganda, I mean REAL EDUCATION. Knowing what these (or any other) substances can do to your body and your mind before you consume them play a huge role in what choices you may make before you decide to use them and/or while under the influence of alcohol or marijuana.

There are arguments claiming that marijuana can help with health problems (“medical marijuana”); there are also arguments claiming that a small amount of alcohol every day can be beneficial for you (some European studies talk about a glass of wine per day, some North American studies talk about a beer per day).

From the marijuana plant, hemp can be made, which can be used to produce clothes and paper. There are also many different types of alcohol that are used in various cleaning agents. So it can be said that both substances have other positive effects in society.

Then there’s the ever-popular argument that ‘marijuana never killed anyone’. I don’t know that such a statement is true. It may be true that marijuana never DIRECTLY killed anyone (i.e. overdose), but with the claims that its long-term use can cause lung cancer, it’s certainly possible (if that claim is true) that using marijuana frequently and for the long-term can cause death. The same could be said of cigarettes and alcohol, yet those two things are legalized. I would not doubt that people have died due to accidents while under the intoxication of marijuana, but the same could be said (and has been said, and has been proven) for those who have consumed alcohol (drunk driving, for example).

What are we not being told about marijuana? If arguments and counter-arguments can be made on marijuana’s behalf in comparison with alcohol (and in a few cases, cigarettes), then why is it still illegal? What are we not being told about it? The U.S. Department of Justice website claims that Schedule 1 drugs

“…are classified as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision” (http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/concern/marijuana.html).

Prescription drugs also have a high potential for abuse, and that’s why things like “recommended dosage” and “side effects” are listed either on the bottles of prescription drugs or in the manuals/pamphlets/instruction booklets that come with them.

“According to the American Psychiatric Association, marijuana use may trigger panic attacks, paranoia and even psychoses, especially if users are suffering from anxiety, depression, or having thinking problems.” From (http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/concern/ondcp_marijuana.html)

The exact same thing could be said of alcohol!

“”Teens who are high on marijuana are less able to make safe, smart decisions about sex – including saying no,” said Sarah Brown, Director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. “Teens who have used marijuana are four times more likely to get pregnant or get someone pregnant than teens who haven’t.” Once again, the same thing could be said about alcohol! In fact, I can say from personal experience that I was many times more likely to get a woman pregnant under the influence of alcohol than under the influence of marijuana, for the simple fact that I was too busy laughing and/or lying around while under the influence of marijuana. And here’s another point: it may be true that long-term marijuana use can deplete the activity level of a person. I would be in favour of supporting unbiased studies that looked into this. This is why I believe that smoking marijuana does not need to (and should not be) done every day. It is, in my mind, no different than a candy bar, cheesecake, or pizza: it’s something you MAY have every once in awhile. Use it in moderation. Overusing ANYTHING, be it drugs (such as marijuana or alcohol), candies/cakes/pastries, prescription drugs…hell, even weightlifting…can cause unwanted health effects. You need to become educated on all these products and their effects on the human body, and then exercise restraint in using them. That’s part of what being a responsible adult is.

Could marijuana be classified as an addictive drug? It is my belief that it could, along with alcohol, cigarettes, and perhaps even sweets (chocolate being a prime example). But how does that make it dangerous? This is how:

“The short term effects of marijuana use include: memory loss, distorted perception, trouble with thinking and problem solving, loss of motor skills, decrease in muscle strength, increased heart rate, and anxiety.” (http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/ongoing/marijuana.html)

If you’re addicted to a substance that has these kinds of short-term effects, then it’s possible that the long-term effects could be disastrous for your health. But how about smoking? Overeating? Eating foods that are rich in sugar, salt, and other preservatives on a regular basis? Do the short-term effects of the aforementioned things make them dangerous to human health?

“Marijuana is much stronger now than it was decades ago…” (http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/ongoing/marijuana.html)

Could it be that long-term exposure to the chemicals in marijuana can harm a person’s health? Perhaps THIS is why marijuana is still illegal! If the THC content was lowered to an acceptable level, could marijuana be legalized with the idea of ‘recommended dosage levels’? Maybe it’s the rising level of THC that the DEA and medical professionals are worried about. What are THC’s effects on the brain? If THC harms the brain when used in large quantities, then it would make sense that marijuana would remain illegal…either that or have chemists lower the THC levels so marijuana could be distributed in a ‘controlled’ fashion, just as alcohol is (alcohol is sold in establishments licensed for the selling and distribution, in places like liquor stores, pubs, bars, etc).

You see, unlike heroin, not everyone can die from smoking his or her first marijuana joint. Yes, there may be people out there who have severe breathing and/or respiratory problems who CANNOT smoke marijuana, as well as people whose bodies may have deathly ill adverse effects from THC (although I cannot verify if these people have died from smoking marijuana or having THC in their system). But please stop with the fear mongering about marijuana unless you can document an instance where a person died simply from smoking it (as opposed to someone who had smoked marijuana and then became a Darwin Award nominee by getting behind the wheel of a car and dying in an accident, etc.). This article may be a beacon of light for the anti-marijuana-ists amongst us:
http://www.mirror.co.uk/celebs/news/2009/05/21/rock-star-from-eighties-indie-band-the-primitives-killed-by-smoking-too-much-pot-115875-21377003/

In conclusion: if marijuana can be made to be a controlled substance that can be used responsibly in a social setting (like alcohol is), then why can’t it be decriminalized and perhaps even legalized with restrictions? If studies can be done to find acceptable dosage levels (as was done with DMT by Dr. Rick Strassman), wouldn’t these studies be helpful in the possible decriminalization and legalization argument?

P.S. Someone made a goof on the website for the U.S. Department of Justice!

“In other studies, smoked marijuana has been shown to cause a variety of health problems, including cancer, respiratory problems, increased heart rate, loss of motor skills, and increased heart rate.”
http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/ongoing/marijuana.html:

Short-term memory loss indeed.

P.P.S. What is the lethal dose of marijuana?
http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/LIBRARY/mj_overdose.htm

P.P.S.S. Possible scare tactic? (In 2007? Come oooooon…)
MY BROTHER DIED AFTER OVERDOSING ON MARIJUANA:
http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message467900/pg1

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