Marijuana Legalization Essay

2088 words - 8 pages

In the U.S. today, the use of recreational drugs and legislation concerning them revolves heavily around the most used illegal substance, marijuana. Marijuana is also known as cannabis, as well as a slew of other names, as it is derived from one of the three Cannabis plants: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. Cannabis’ popularity can largely be accredited to its THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content. THC is the main psychoactive component found in cannabis that produces the “high” that marijuana users may experience. The drug is most commonly rolled into a “joint”, or weed cigarette, and smoked. While weed may provide its users a feeling a euphoria, it gives lawmakers headaches as it presents several social and legal difficulties. In the United States, laws regarding marijuana vary from state to state, but the drug is generally illegal throughout the country. Decriminalization in many states allows for freer cannabis consumption, and medical marijuana allows for patients to intake prescribed drugs without any issue. With the relative availability for marijuana despite its legal standing, obvious social constraints are placed upon members of society.


Cannabis has long been used as a medicinal agent. The first uses of medical marijuana can be traced to the Chinese emperor Shen Neng, and this practice dates as far back as 2700 B.C.. The use of medical marijuana has spread from China to India, to ancient Rome, and then through Asia, Europe, and Africa. The plant was used to treat any number of ailments, including “gout, malaria, beriberi, rheumatism, and, curiously, poor memory” (Understanding Marijuana 11). Marijuana was also used as a painkiller, an anesthetic, and even as a cure for flatulence. Today, the uses for medical marijuana have been targeted towards minor and serious illnesses; cannabis has been utilized to help in restoring appetite and alleviating nausea in HIV/AIDS and cancer patients, as well as a temporary cure for pain, glaucoma, and anxiety, with many patient testimonies regarding other diseases (Understanding Marijuana 171). Although there is some indication that marijuana may be successfully used as a drug, there is simply not enough research to back any calls for legalization. Being a smoked treatment also hurts marijuana’s chances at being used; many opponents of medical cannabis have stated their concerns with a treatment that can potentially cause lung and respiratory issues, and with the difficulty to properly control dosages when the drug is smoked (Nakaya 55).


While the cannabis plant has seen use as hemp and a medicinal substance, its use as a psychoactive drug is the most notable aspect of this plant. Recreational use in the U.S. dates back nearly one hundred years, but marijuana usage began its rise with the prohibition of alcohol (Understanding Marijuana 24). Drug laws are always seen following the use and abuse of some substance, and cannabis was no exception. The 1937 Marijuana Tax...

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