Medicinal Marijuana Is Bad Idea Essay

4425 words - 18 pages

Marijuana is a psychoactive drug made from the dried leaves and flowering parts of the hemp plant. It is one of the most strictly classified illegal drugs in the United States. Under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is listed as a Schedule I substance, which defines it as having 'a high potential for abuse'; and 'no currently accepted medical use.'; Marijuana is therefore classified more severely than cocaine and morphine, which as Schedule II drugs are also banned for general use, but can be prescribed by doctors. It is illegal to buy, sell, grow, or possess marijuana in the United States. Marijuana prohibition comprises a large part of the federal governments War on Drugs. Law enforcement officials made 600,000 marijuana-related arrests in 1996, and 800,000 in 1998-four out of five arrests being for possession alone. Under federal and state laws, many of which were strengthened in the 1980's, people convicted of marijuana offenses face penalties ranging from probation to life imprisonment, plus fines and forfeiture of property. In addition to criminal justice efforts, the federal government, state government, and local communities spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually on prevention programs such as Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), in which local police officers visit schools to teach young people to refrain from trying marijuana and other drugs.
     However, public controversy has been growing over the two assumptions-high abuse potential and no legitimate medical use-that underlie marijuana's status as a Schedule I drug. In turn, disputes over the abuse and medical potential have shaped differences of opinion over public policy. Many of those who question one or both of these assumptions about marijuana have advocated a full or partial relaxation of the governments blanket prohibition of the drug, while those who accept these assumptions generally are opposed to any full or partial legalization of marijuana.
     Supporters of marijuana's continued prohibition argue that the drug is easily abused and can lead to numerous physical and psychological harms. Short-term health effects-according to the NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse)-of the drug listed in this paper include memory loss, distorted perception, problems with learning and coordination, an increased heart rate, and anxiety attacks. Long-term effects according to NIDA-include increased risk of lung cancer for chronic marijuana smokers and possible damage to the immune and reproductive systems. In addition, marijuana opponents argue that many users attain a psychological dependence on the 'high'; that marijuana can create. Such dependence can result in stunned emotional and social maturity as these users lose interest in school, job, and social activities. About 100,000 people each year resort to drug abuse treatment programs to end their marijuana addiction. Marijuana is also viewed by some commentators as a 'gateway'; drug that can lead to the...

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