The Legal Battle over Marijuana use

The legal battle over the personal freedom to use Marijuana has been surging for decades. The marijuana debate is nothing new, and has become a huge public issue. It’s perhaps one of the most controversial subjects for debate in the world today. All over something as simple as a plant. An often beautiful looking plant that creates a pleasing aromatic scent in addition to having many practical and medicinal uses that I will elaborate upon below.

Some may dismiss my testimony as the ramblings of an uninformed pothead, but I assure that I am very informed about this topic (and not a pothead). It’s true that many use marijuana to escape reality and suppress thoughts, which can lead to “abusive habits”.

But at what point do we consider the habit to be abusive? Studies have concluded that Marijuana is impossible to overdose on. The claim is that you need thousands of pounds ingested within minutes to create a lethal response. That is not physically possible. With most recreational drugs and legal medications, overdose is entirely possible and may lead to death.

Heading into the practical and medicinal uses for Marijuana, it should be noted that The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of a synthetic marijuana pill called Marinol for treating Waste Syndrome, a condition in AIDS patients where extreme weight loss is experienced. The FDA has also approved Marinol for treating nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, perhaps partially based on a study I’m about to mention.

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, based in Washington D.C., reported in 1999 that the active ingredient in Marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), was proven to ease vomiting in about 25 percent of Chemotherapy patients. The Institute also claims THC was effective in reducing eye pressure in patients with Glaucoma, but found the effect was too short-lived and not worth the drug’s side effects according to study participants. So far, their approval of the drug is cited as a civil liberties issue.

As with any drug, Marijuana also has side effects, which are largely mild, and may be quite pleasant for some people. These side effects may include temporary impairment of cognition, euphoric feelings, anxiety, depression, delusions, and depersonalization. It can also cause changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and effect your anaerobic endurance in a negative temporary fashion. Some of these side effects are also widely believed to be cured with Marijuana, so these findings are somewhat inconclusive and show the need for more research.

Going on to less scientifically backed medicinal uses, THC has also been shown to ease pain, and stimulate your appetite. Additionally, contradicting studies and evidence suggest THC is effective for treating other ailments such as stress, anxiety, congestion, and even Asthma (depending on the method of ingestion).

There are many ways of introducing THC to your bloodstream, but the most popular is probably the traditional Marijuana cigarette, or joint, where the smoke is inhaled deep in the lungs. If you’re planning on using THC to help treat Asthma, this is obviously not the desired method. Marijuana can be mixed into a hot tea, baked into food items, and used effectively with any other method which creates heat and releases the active ingredient. The requirement for smoking it simply does not exist.

Many claim that smoking Marijuana causes cancer (particularly lung cancer), for which there is no hard evidence to support. You could go your whole life without smoking one cigarette, or any Marijuana, and still die tragically of lung cancer. Logical evidence would suggest long term use may have this effect, not unlike cigarettes.

The common consensus is that certain phases of Marijuana smoke produce more carcinogens (cancer promoting compounds) than regular tobacco smoke, because the users often inhale and hold the smoke deep in their lungs for as long as possible to achieve the greatest chemical effect.

It should be noted there are special sorts of pipes and smoking devices available to filter the smoke and make it more healthy. These devices are typically marketed towards tobacco users, but guess who normally uses them instead? Mostly Marijuana users. One example that can be found fairly easily doing a Google search, would be the gravity bong, which filters smoke through either alcohol or water sitting in a chamber where the smoke is passed through.

The addictive nature of Marijuana is mythical to a large extent. While it’s true marijuana has psychologically addictive properties, there is no indication that it creates a physical dependency. With psychological dependency, the user has basically conditioned their brain to accept something into their body as part of routine life or as a stress relieving activity. The user believes mentally that he needs it, because it’s part of his routine and may become agitated if the routine is inconsistent. He may exhibit depression or discontent after abrupt discontinuation of use, but the effect is not physical and also relatively short-lived.

The difference is that physical dependence arises when the body becomes addicted to something in such a sense that abruptly discontinuing use causes physical manifestations of sickness and discomfort. A marijuana user who is psychologically dependent will normally have a regular night of sleep without the drug, where as someone physically dependent on something such as Methadone, will wake up and likely be unable to function properly or sleep without ingesting it. They may even become sick and vomit, have seizures, or any number of potentially harmful side effects that are non-existent with Marijuana.

We become dependent on many things in life, including our gas powered vehicles, snow blowers, tractors and lawn mowers. Many arguments could be made for criminalizing the use of these machines, as they create pollution and release greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Why don’t we just outlaw scented candles and farting while we’re at it? And trees. I recently discovered an article which claims 30% of the methane gas in our atmosphere is produced by trees, which means they’re a contributing factor to global warming.

Imagine how much methane humans themselves probably produce without smoking. Environmental conditions are a totally different blog topic, but you can see how ridiculous we could make our laws if we put enough thought and effort into thinking them up. Nearly anything can be considered dangerous and probably is in some way or another.

The major trend of increasing Marijuana use is not going away anytime soon. While I disagree with other drugs such as Cocaine, LSD, Heroin, and Crystal Meth being legalized, Marijuana has found an unfortunate place in society being categorized with these drugs as dangerous. Facts remain, that while alcohol becomes an increasingly more dangerous enemy to drivers everywhere, I could not find one reference of marijuana being ruled the sole determined cause of a traffic accident. You’re likely to drive more carefully when stoned (high on marijuana), because you often become acutely aware of things you weren’t while not using it.

Many places are already legalizing Marijuana for medicinal use. In my home state of Michigan, marijuana is legal pending your doctor’s approval in Detroit, Ferndale, Ann Arbor, and Traverse City. Recent bids to have it legalized in Flint apparently failed, as I’ve heard nothing else since it came to my attention the issue was on a ballot. Amsterdam, Canada, many places are deciding the medical benefits of Marijuana outweigh the potential caveats.

Furthermore, our government wastes an incredible amount of our tax dollars keeping these drug offenders locked up. Nearly 25 percent of prison and jail inmates in the United States today are locked up because of drug offenses, increasing federal spending to over $3 Billion annually on containment of ONLY drug offenders. These are our tax dollars going into the toilet, as it costs about $25,000 a year to house a single federal prison inmate. The annual costs of federal probation for a single person are far less, at about $2,500 annually.

Even more money is spent by groups working for the government who have been producing the most ridiculous television ad campaigns lately against Marijuana. Some of these commercials go into hardly any detail and blatantly lie about the effects. For instance, one commercial I’ve seen shows an adolescent male running from a group of guard dogs. As he jumps onto a fence and begins to climb over to escape, the dogs jump and catch him. They blame his inability to escape on the effects of pot, claiming it robbed him of the stamina and endurance required to outrun animals which usually run considerably faster than humans to begin with.

Another commercial claimed you would smoke marijuana and fall asleep, forgetting about upcoming social events, like a date with your girlfriend. Sure, this may happen if your body is already tired and half asleep, but is not going to happen if you care about your girlfriend any. Marijuana is commonly classified by the government amongst other drugs as a narcotic. By definition of the word narcotic, a chemical compound which causes narcosis (sleep), this classification is entirely false.

The government is so full of themselves half of the time it isn’t even funny, and a good portion of the population follows their every word like a herd of mindless sheep following each other off a cliff. The disinformation being spread is absolutely disgusting, in my opinion, and probably a major contributing factor to continued criminalization of the drug.

Legalizing Marijuana would create jobs and help our economy. It would create more room in our prisons for people who have actually been involved in violent crimes and threaten our society, and put our tax dollars to better use. The government would profit by introducing taxes on the sale of marijuana, and also benefit from it themselves. Crime rates would be lowered. People could walk into a store and buy Marijuana instead of robbing someone for it, or roaming the streets looking for a dealer who may sell them a tainted product with impurities.

I for one, am not satisfied with my tax dollars being used to house drug offenders who only want to smoke marijuana. I say we legalize it and end the drama, federal spending, and enter a new era where tolerance is promoted. Nobody who smokes pot has ever done me wrong.