Marijuana Legal or Illegal
Cannabis, sold as marijuana, hashish and hash oil, is the most
frequently used illicit drug in Canada. Roughly one in four Canadian
adults report having used cannabis at some time in their lives. Cannabis
use has been on the rise among young people. “For example, a 1997
Addiction Research Foundation survey found that 25 per cent of Ontario
junior high school students used cannabis in the previous year, up from 13
per cent in 1993.” (cannabae) Knowing this, should the United States
legalize cannabis? There are some questions that must be answered first.
What other uses does cannabis have and how would legalizing affect the
drug rings in the US.
In terms of health risks, some consequences of cannabis
are clearly known, while others, such as the effects of chronic exposure,
are less obvious. In terms of respiratory damage, marijuana smoke
contains higher concentrations of some of the constituents of tar and
tobacco smoke. In addition, it is hotter when it contacts the lungs and is
typically inhaled more deeply and held in the lungs longer than tobacco
smoke. In terms of physical co-ordination, Cannabis impairs co-ordination.
This brings with it the risk of injury and death through impaired driving or accidents such as falls. When it comes to pregnancy and childhood
development, Cannabis use by pregnant women may affect the fetus.
As with tobacco smoking, risks such as low birth weight and premature
delivery increase with use.
Research has shown a link between chronic heavy marijuana use
and damage to the respiratory system similar to that caused by tobacco.
“Long-term marijuana smoking is associated with changes, such as injury
to the major bronchi, that leave the lungs open to injury and infection.
Frequent, heavy use has been linked with bronchitis.“ (dope head) There
Is also no link between marijuana smoking and lung cancer.
Some interesting facts on cannabis; the impact of health problems
linked to cannabis is much less than that resulting from alcohol or
tobacco use. Survey data from the U.S., show that dependence on
nicotine among smokers is several times more damaging than cannabis
dependence among marijuana users. “Moreover, the legal drugs
tobacco and alcohol account for the bulk of the economic costs of
substance use. A recent Ontario study found that annual health care
costs resulting from cannabis use were 8 million dollars when compared to
those for tobacco 1.07 billion dollars and alcohol 442 million dollars.”
Is Marijuana a gateway drug? Researchers are looking into using
marijuana to help crack cocaine addicts to quit. “There are 40 million
people in the United States who have smoked marijuana for a period of