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By Scott Lindsay
US Government reports indicate nearly 98 million Americans have likely used marijuana at least once in their lives. Trends also indicate increased use among high school and college students.
There has been a push in recent years for the legalization of marijuana use for medicinal purposes. In essence the hope of this push is to make marijuana available to patients as prescribed by a qualified physician.
Marijuana was actually used in pharmacology prior to 1930. Once the use of the weed was prohibited a portion of the American public responded in much the way they had during prohibition. Marijuana had suddenly gained strong underground support.
Those who have lobbied for the medicinal use of this drug have well documented evidence to support the use for those who have specific forms of nausea and pain. It has also proven useful in the treatment of glaucoma and multiple sclerosis.
There is also a concerted push to make the use of marijuana legal for any kind of use. Proponents of the idea suggest that marijuana has no viable commercial opportunity if it is legalized. The reason this is a common belief is that this drug comes from a weed that is easily cultivated with minimal processing. Secondarily, unlike tobacco the use of marijuana requires only a small amount for full effect. In the end the hope is that there comes a time when marijuana is allowed for personal use it will generally be a personal decision to cultivate the plant.
Those opposed to the idea of legalizing this drug indicate it is a drug that generally is a stepping-stone to harder drugs that are also illegal. Government statistics seem to back up this assertion.
Should marijuana be legalized it may also bring up a complicated new dynamic in the operation of motor vehicles. Because marijuana can cause confusion and increases heart rates there may be a need for laws related to what levels would be accepted for marijuana use in relation to driving.
Both sides of the debate also have divergent opinions on the impact of crime should this drug be legalized. Proponents believe that when it is legal to grow and harvest marijuana crime will decrease because the drug culture aspect of marijuana use will be brought into a more mainstream setting. Opponents believe that when it is legalized it will simply invite more widespread use and an increased appetite for additional drug experimentation.
Some opponents also contend that long-term use of marijuana is likely to increase lung cancer rates due to reports that indicate the carcinogenic effects may be as much as 70% higher than tobacco use.
Some would contend that what may have started as a well intentioned idea has turned into massive enforcement issues when legalization would make most issues simply go away.
Opponents point to the nearly 2 million marijuana related arrests in 2006 and the average age of 24 for those seeking addiction treatments as signs of widespread addiction. This leads many to believe that there should be continued enforcement of existing laws instead of making it easier to gain access to marijuana.
Two determined points of view with articulate voices on both sides of the issue. Has any of the above information challenged your perspective?
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