One of the aspects of current drug policy in the United States that continues to provide
tension and a level of debate is why certain drugs, such as nicotine, are allowed to be produced
and consumed within government regulation whereas other drugs, such as marijuana, are
completely and entirely outlawed by the federal government. One might say that the reason
for such a differential has to do with the overall level of harm differential that exists between
these two drugs; however, when one considers the fact that both drugs are ultimately damaging
to one’s health – if inhaled – the level of differential between them, from a quality of health
standpoint, is negligible. Within ...view middle of the document...
Although marijuana is not unique in that its use has both a series of side
effects and benefits, this paper will attempt to categorize this, discuss their nature, and draw
conclusion as to the overall effects with regards to whether medical marijuana is worthy of
continuing to be used as a drug due to its inherent benefits or should be discontinued as a drug/
treatment as a function of the risk it poses to the individual. Yet, the battle over marijuana
legalization is not something that many states are willing to leave up to the federal government.
As one author noted, “The issue of marijuana legalization is one that has encouraged many of the
more progressive/liberal states to make the first move in decriminalizing, and in many cases
tacitly encouraging, the legalization of marijuana” (Tutro 243).
With respect to some of the most important side effects that have been medically proven,
one has to note that the smoking of any substance provides a greatly increased risk of developing
a host of cancers. These include but are in no way limited to the following: lip cancer, tongue
cancer, cheek cancer, esophageal cancer, and lung cancer but to name a few. Similarly, it has
been proven that smoking marijuana also weakens the body’s immune system. This is of vital
importance to many individuals who will be taking it to assist in the effort to survive a given
illness. In this way, the individual is likely to prolong the amount of time that they are suffering
from an illness due to the fact that the use of marijuana has a negative effect on the total white
blood cell count and the body’s inherent ability to fight off infection.
Another relevant piece of research pointed to the following: “In addition to the increased
risk of a litany of cancers, the user of marijuana is also at a highly increased risk of respiratory
illness; due to the fact that inhaling the smoke from even 1 joint per day can noticeably affect the
bronchial linings in the air way which serve to protect the individual from a host of airborne
viruses” (Friese & Grube 37). Additionally, as many people are well aware, the amount of tar in
a single cigarette is one of the most harmful factors of smoking because it causes a plaque like
buildup to form within the lungs of the user over time. Said one author, “Even though pot is
understood be society as a “safe” drug; the fact of the matter is that smoking any substance has
negative, oftentimes detrimental long term health effects, upon the individual in question” (Wells
79). A little known fact is that a single joint contains 4 times the level of tar as a single cigarette.
In this way, the individual can see that even smoking a single joint per day is the equivalent of
smoking 4 cigarettes with respect to the overall level of tar and the negative health effects. As
well as current research has been able to prove that cigarettes are harmful for a number of
reasons to the average smoker,...