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Critically Assess The Arguments In Favour Of The Decriminalization Or Legalization Of Marijuana Use.

1322 words - 5 pages

Critically assess the arguments in favour of the decriminalization or legalization of marijuana use.It is estimated that 40 percent of young people in Britain have tried marijuana and that it is an 'underground' economy worth globally £100 billion and $1-3 billion a year in this country alone. There is no denying that marijuana is now a massive part of modern British culture along with alcohol and tobacco. One hundred years ago, it was perfectly legal to walk in to a chemist and procure a range of cannabis tinctures and opium extracts, heroine and morphine. Indeed it was only due to pressure from Egypt and Turkey at the Geneva International Convention on Narcotics Control in 1925 that marijuana was included on the list of banned substances that forced the banning of it in the UK under the 1928 Dangerous Drugs Act. This meant marijuana was grouped under the same law as all other drugs with no distinction being made between soft and hard drugs. Since this time there have been arguments for the decriminalization or legalisation of marijuana use. It is the Marxian idea that the key to understanding society is the studying of its patterns of consumption, production, distribution and exchange. According to Social Trends in 1996 one third of 16-19 year olds have already smoked marijuana. It is statistics like these that are fuelling the arguments for legalisation and decriminalization. In America alone 400,000 people a year die from smoking related diseases and alcohol consumes many lives also, whilst in its entire history no one has ever died directly from marijuana use. The argument for decriminalization of marijuana was boosted in1938 by LaGuardia report in New York which stated that marijuana was not a neuro-toxin, showing it to be less harmful than alcohol and tobacco. Anti-legalisation activists would counter this by arguing that allowing teenagers to freely smoke marijuana would lead to an increase in consumption and an increase in the consumption of other drugs. However this is not the case. According to the US Institute of Medicine, marijuana is not addictive and is not a gateway drug. The US Department of Health also backs this up saying in 1995 "Most marijuana users do not go on to use other drugs." Since marijuana is not a toxin, it does not have a fatal dose; indeed it has been estimated the user would have to smoke 100 pounds of marijuana a minute for fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response.The medical argument for the decriminalisation or legalisation of marijuana is one that is becoming stronger and more difficult to criticise. It is well documented now that smoking marijuana for a sustained period in moderate doses is found to have no detrimental effects; indeed this was the conclusion of The Wooten Report in the UK in 1968. Since then tests have revealed that the Cannabis plant can be used to treat a number of medical conditions, including Multiple Scleroses , glaucoma, alcoholism, asthma and even...

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