Approaches to marijuana legalization
Many countries across the world have prohibited the use, farming, possession, manufacture and trade of marijuana and its derivatives. However, some countries do allow limited and controlled use of marijuana for medical purposes or a limited amount for personal use often in private places.
In the context of medical use, marijuana has been used in relieving some conditions associated with cancer. Such conditions include nausea, anorexia, cachexia, pain and depression. While sixteen states in the United States have legalized medical marijuana use, there are still a lot of controversies surrounding its medical use.
Such controversies arise from the safety concerns surrounding the medical use of marijuana. The question of legalizing marijuana refers to the legal use of marijuana both in private and public places for medical use or otherwise. However, there are no adequate justifications on the need to legalize marijuana use.
The proponents of marijuana legalization often use three approaches to advance their arguments. One approach revolves around comparing and contrasting effects of marijuana use with other legal substances that are commonly abused. The other approach revolves around the notion of personal freedom of choice in a democratic space. The third and last approach revolves on the concept that marijuana has known medical benefits.
On the other hand, the opponents of marijuana legalization have developed arguments to counter the three approaches used by its proponents. One approach involves showing the health complications caused by legal but commonly abused substances that marijuana use is often compared.
The opponents of marijuana use advocate for the limitation of personal freedom of choice if such freedom leads to self-injury. The opponents of marijuana use have also argued that the medical benefits derived from marijuana use can be gained through alternative conventional drugs.
Marijuana use is often compared to substance abuse such as alcohol and tobacco use. These two substances do cause serious health complications. For example, according to the center for disease control and prevention (CDCP), tobacco use is associated with several diseases such as coronary heart diseases and stroke amongst many more physical and mental health complications (par 3).
Proponents of marijuana use argue that its use does not cause more harm than alcohol and tobacco use. Alcohol and tobacco use are legal in most countries.
On the other hand, the opponents of marijuana use have sought to show that marijuana use does cause grievous mental and physical health complications. According to National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana use severely compromises ability to do complex functions and causes chest problems similar to tobacco use (par 1).
Marijuana use has known health complications and antisocial behaviours. Having established the health complications caused by the marijuana use, the opponents of marijuana use argue against legalizing marijuana. Instead, the opponents of marijuana use advocate for greater sanctions on alcohol and tobacco use by governments across the world.
Freedom of choice
The notion of freedom of choice is another major reason advanced on the need to legalize marijuana. In this context, the proponents of marijuana legalization argue that marijuana use ought to be a personal decision as long as one does not present antisocial behaviour. This school of thought holds the view that this personal choice in relation to marijuana use ought not to be regulated by the government. People who use marijuana for recreational purposes often hold this school of thought.
There is documented evidence that the official government position across many countries is that marijuana use is harmful to a persons’ mental and physical health. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a US government agency, holds the view that ‘the use of marijuana can produce adverse physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral effects’ (par 2).
The opponents of marijuana use have used such government position to justify its interference with personal choices and freedom of choice. The opponents argue since many governments hold the view that marijuana use is harmful to one’s health then it has a right to prohibit it.
Medical use of marijuana
There are active ingredients in marijuana that have medical value in cancer medication and HIV/Aids management. In this context, marijuana has been used in the management of anorexia, cachexia and pain amongst other conditions associated with cancer and HIV/Aids.
The main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana used in management of these conditions is known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or formerly delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Nida 5) .This medical use for marijuana has been advanced as a major reason to legalize marijuana.
Having recognized the medicinal value of THC, medical researchers have synthesized THC that is used in most conventional cancer drugs. While there are still some limitations on the medicinal value of synthetic THC in comparison to its plant extract version, the benefits of prohibiting medical marijuana use still outweighs its benefits. This is because there is a high potential to abuse marijuana in the pretence of marijuana use.
On deep scrutiny and analysis, the three major approaches used to advance the need for marijuana legalization fail to pass the logic threshold. The reason advanced on the need to legalize marijuana use because there are other legal but commonly abused substances fails to appeal to logic. These commonly abused substances have the capacity to cause serious mental and physical health complications. Marijuana use in its own right causes serious health complications.
In this context, the focus ought to shift to lobbying the governments to regulate those substances and not to legalize marijuana use. The government has a duty towards individuals. In this context, the government has a right to infringe on personal liberties if it opines that the same may lead to self-destruction and harm. The world has synthetically produced the active ingredient in marijuana that has medicinal value and as such, there is no need to legalize marijuana use based on this reason.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP). Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. 21 Mar.2011.Web.19th Nov.2011
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). What Are the Long-Term Health Effects of Marijuana Use? Oct.2011.Web. 19th Nov.2011