The Debate Regarding The Legalization Of Marijuana — страница 2

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system. They say that the physical effects of marijuana and its level of addiction are lower than those of nicotine and alcohol, both legal drugs. They say that legalization would take the criminal aspect out of the distribution of cannabis; in other words, as the distribution of cannabis would be taken out of the hands of criminals, there would be less crime related to cannabis transactions. There would also be a standard for cannabis, therefore avoiding “laced” cannabis, which can have serious physical effects. They say cannabis has real medical value and can be cheaper than prescription medicine. They say, most importantly, that it is an adult individual’s right to choose whether or not to use cannabis, just as it is his or her right to use nicotine or alcohol ( Inciardi

78). Several institutes and scientists have attempted to determine the adverse physical effects of cannabis, its possible medicinal merit, and to advise the government as to its policy regarding marijuana. For example, Richard Nixon created the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse in 1972. This commission recommended that possession and sale of up to one ounce of marijuana be decriminalized. After President Nixon disregarded the commission’s finding, a panel convened in 1982 under the appointment of the National Academy of Sciences. They reached the same conclusion as the 1972 commission, but were equally ignored (Baggins 71). The safety level of marijuana has been debated. A common way to dtermine safety is to measure the safety margin of a drug or substance. One

determines the amount of the substance that causes the desired effect in fifty percent of its subjects. One then finds the lethal dose for fifty percent of the subjects. The lethal dose divided by the amount necessary to produce the desired effect is the safety margin. For example, 10 mg of morphine will produce the desired effect in fifty percent of a population. 90 mg of morphine will kill fifty percent of said population. Therefore, the safety margin of morphine is 9. The safety margin of alcohol, a legal drug, is 10; the safety margin of nicotine is 60. Comparatively, the safety margin of cannabis is 2600; it requires 1,300 marijuana cigarettes, in the span of approximately five minutes, to produce a lethal dosage (Fish 413). Incredibly, while there are numerous deaths each

year from overdoses of alcohol, there has never been a death resulting from overdose of cannabis. David Baggins says on page 72 of Drug Hate and the Corruption of American Justice , “…there are zero fatalities in medical history from marijuana use. This compares to nearly a half million deaths each year from tobacco and tens of thousands of deaths each year from alcohol, the nations number one and two drugs in terms of health consequence…The health risk of marijuana is predominantly that almost half a million Americans each year are drawn into the criminal justice system through the prohibition of this drug.” The most controversial, and at this point in time plausible, argument for the partial decriminalization of marijuana is the potential medicinal value of marijuana.

Marijuana use has been cited as a cure or treatment for several afflictions. For example, when a person suffers from glaucoma, fluid pressure builds in the eye until it causes damage to the optic nerve. Marijuana use causes a drop in intraocular pressure for glaucoma sufferers which usually lasts several hours. Marijuana use also has been praised for lessening pain, cramps, and nausea among cancer and AIDS patients, as well as stimulating their appetites, which are usually destroyed by chemotherapy and AIDS medication (Fish 422). Fish compares the use of marijuana and the use of the drug ondansetron on page 422 of How to Legalize Drugs. He explains that they both have comparable success rates in curing the nausea and vomiting of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The

benefit of marijuana over ondansetron, however, is the price. In countries where marijuana has been decriminalized, the effective dose costs approximately thirty to forty cents, as opposed to thirty or forty dollars per ondansetron pill. Recently, voters in the District of Columbia, Alaska, Oregon, Nevada, Washington, and Arizona voted to suspend legal punishment of any person using marijuana under the supervision of a physician. The war on drugs is still in full effect. Despite several medical studies insisting on the partial or full decriminalization of cannabis and medical marijuana bills winning popular approval on state ballots, there are more marijuana-related arrests now than ever before. During Bill Clinton’s Presidency, ten million people have been arrested on