Tuesday, August 3, 2010

50 Reasons to Legalize/Illegalize Marijuana Today

My colleague Ben Small has been writing about the drug smuggling problems along the Arizona/Mexico border. He has raised the question of legalizing marijuana. We have an interesting guest post today by Rachel Davis. Rachel, a cancer survivor, retired web developer, recent grandmother, maintains RadiologyDegree.com as a nonprofit site in her spare time. It is particularly helpful for individuals who are considering becoming a radiologist or entering the broader field of radiology. The site includes a blog where she posts interesting stuff on medical matters. The article below was taken, with permission, from her blog.

Split on whether or not to make medical or recreational marijuana legal? It is a volatile subject. With proponents on both sides feeling strongly about their issue, putting them together can be a recipe for shouting, talking over each other, and little accomplished. So why not turn to the internet?

Those who support and oppose the idea have taken the time to lay out their arguments. In an effort to portray both sides as fairly as possible, we have gathered 50 reasons to legalize/illegalize marijuana today. They include topics on medical and recreational use, with everyone from doctors to users to parents chiming in.

Well Known Reasons to Legalize Marijuana Today

These are some of the most commonly used reasons to legalize marijuana today.

    1. No Marijuana Overdose : This is a common held belief among those who use it. According to Urban Dictionary, the marijuana overdose is something that does not exist or would be impossible to accomplish. They theorize that one would have to smoke more than their own body weight to achieve an overdose. 
    2. Not a Gateway Drug : A twelve year study by the University of Pittsburgh reports on this. It tracked over 200 boys aged ten to twelve, all of whom used legal or illegal drugs. It then categorized them into those who used only alcohol or tobacco, those who moved onto marijuana, and those who used marijuana first. Nearly one fourth of the boys used marijuana before the other two.  
    3. Marijuana Cures Everything : Visit this forum on Grass City to see what users post. It features a link to a video from Rick Simpson, who claims that marijuana can cure cancer. Others chime in on the debate.  
    4. Smoking Cigarettes is Worse : Using pregnant women, WebMD discusses the risks to a woman’s health, along with that of the baby. Possible side effects include increasing the baby’s heart rate, premature birth, and risk of miscarriage.  
    5. Driving While Stoned Not as Bad as DUI : NORML’s Paul Armentano prepared a scientific review of over a dozen studies evaluating marijuana’s effect on psychomotor skills and the risks posed by marijuana intoxication behind the wheel. He found that marijuana impairment is generally “subtle and short-lived,”falling far short of the threats posed by drunk driving. The article goes on to recommend that people not drive while stoned.  
    6. Marijuana Better Than Alcohol : In a report by CBS, Bristol University found that alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than marijuana. The researchers used three factors to determine this: physical harm, potential for addiction, and impact on society. Heroin and cocaine were rated the most dangerous drugs of all by the study.  
    7. Marijuana is the Same as in 1960’s : The site Drug War Distortions reports on the claim that marijuana is more potent today than 40 years ago. They go on to say that “research shows that the average potency of cannabis in the US has increased very little.” The Potency Monitoring Project is used to back up the claim.  
    8. Marijuana Doesn’t Cause Death : In this chart, leading causes of death among those in the United States are listed. Tobacco, poor diet and inactivity, and alcohol were at the top three. The source on marijuana is quoted as “Indeed, epidemiological data indicate that in the general population marijuana use is not associated with increased mortality.”  

Lesser Known Reasons to Legalize Marijuana Today

You may not have heard of these reasons to legalize marijuana.
    9. THC = Broccoli : Have a look at this article by Associated Content. It reports on how baby broccoli sprouts and the compound found in marijuana helped keep cancer at bay. Although anyone can get the baby broccoli at a grocery store, the special THC is not available from a dealer. 
    10. Hemp Isn’t Marijuana : The folks at Associated Content outline the differences between hemp and marijuana. Industrial hemp is technically from the same species of plant that psychoactive marijuana comes from. However, it is from a different variety, or subspecies that contains many important differences.  
    11. Marijuana Chemical May Fight Brain Cancer : Researchers in Spain found that an active chemical in marijuana promotes the death of brain cancer cells. Results are reported on both mice and human subjects. However, none of the recipients actually smoked pot. They were given THC by other supervised means.  
    12. Hemp is Illegal for the Wrong Reasons : Vote Hemp is an organization who is in favor of legalizing hemp as a crop in the United States. In the myth and facts section, they answer many commonly held beliefs. The main site also has more.  
    13. Moral to Smoke Pot : The site Equal Rights 4 All has gathered several ways cannabis was used in biblical times. Several Bible passages are also given. In particular this line from Genesis “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth.”  
    14. Marijuana Benefits Mood : Xia Zhang and colleagues from University of Saskatchewan show that a potent and synthetic cannabinoid promotes neurogenesis. This drug also exerts anti-anxiety and antidepressant-like effects. You can read more on the report from Medical News Today.  
    15. Marijuana Stimulates Brain Cell Growth : In a study from the same professor and university, a marijuana analogue stimulates brain cells. The effects of HU-210, a potent synthetic cannabinoid similar to a group of compounds found in marijuana, was tested on rats. The treated rats showed growth of new brain cells.

Non-User Reasons to Legalize Marijuana Today

Even if you don’t use marijuana, the below are reasons to legalize it.
    16. The Drug War : Reported on by Alter Net, Walter Cronkite “cannot help but wonder how many more lives, and how much more money, will be wasted before another Robert McNamara admits what is plain for all to see: the War on Drugs is a failure.” Mexico and Columbia are also discussed. 
    17. Criminals Aren’t The Only Ones Dying in the Drug War : This blog posts a report by the “Boston Review”on 13 honor students who were killed in the drug war in Mexico as they celebrated a birthday. President Calderon was quoted to say that there have been 23,000 deaths in the drug war since 2006. The blogger also weighs in.  
    18. Drug Tests Violate Privacy : The Indiana Civil Liberties Union is fighting to have urine and hair testing for drugs banned. They go on to report that these tests serve no good purpose because they only detect past marijuana use and fail to detect other deadly drugs such as LSD. Learn more by visiting.  
    19. Medical Users and Child Custody : In this report, a dad who was a legal medical marijuana patient lost custody of his kids. The dad said that he uses medical marijuana to treat pain from carpal tunnel syndrome and a shoulder injury. Another dad also lost visitation because of use.  
    20. Possible Aid for Autism : Non Domesticated Thinker is a blog that often muses on the fringe news. In this post, a mom says giving her autistic child marijuana has made all the difference. However, she didn’t seem to even try the legally prescribed drugs.  
    21. Marijuana for Cancer : We have all heard the arguments for marijuana aiding those who have cancer. But have you ever heard it from the National Cancer Institute? Part of the NIH, they discuss the two types of marijuana commonly used here.  
    22. Other Benefits : Click here for an opinion piece on medical marijuana from CBS. Mitch Earleywine is an associate professor of psychology and SUNY who believes in the legalization of pot for medical uses. See why and how here.  
    23. What Does it Cost? : The Media Awareness Project examines what the cost of the drug war is. The estimate that the fed spends 17 billion dollars per year fighting drugs. Other expenses are also discussed. 
    24. It’s Expensive : If the above doesn’t convince you, click here. It is a real time clock on the costs of the drug war. The clock shows what the cost is in federal and state taxes, along with the total. It is currently at over 25 billion.

Well Known Reasons to Illegalize Marijuana Today

These are some of the most commonly used reasons to illegalize marijuana today.
    25. There is a Marijuana Overdose : The site Wrong Diagnosis is focused on exposing the health problems that traditional doctors miss. One such problem is the marijuana overdose. Symptoms include rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, delirium, and more. 
    26. Too Much of Anything Can Kill You : An essential part of life, even too much water can lead to a deadly overdose. In this article from the “Daily Mail,”a man died of water overdose while trying to relieve a pain in his gums. The sad story is evidence that too much of anything can kill you.  
    27. It is a Gateway Drug : Stop here to get an archived article from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It outlines the four stages in which people become involved with drugs. The third is marijuana, of which 26 percent move on to harder drugs, while only one percent of those who never smoke marijuana do.  
    28. Marijuana Doesn’t Cure Anything : While the argument is made that marijuana helps ail symptoms, it currently cures nothing. In an article from “Newsweek,”they outline the new drugs approved by the FDA which include 157. Not a single one among them was cures or even effective treatments for devastating diseases.  
    29. Marijuana Can Be Associated With Hemp : Hard to believe? Marijuana advocates who are in favor of its medical and other uses actually named their convention “Hemp Con.” If one has nothing to do with the other, the name would make no sense.  
    30. Marijuana is Worse Than Smoking : In another entry from Associated Content, marijuana smoking while pregnant is worse than smoking cigarettes. The THC and other 400 chemicals can cause a miscarriage, problems with birth, and low birth rate. Even the chances of conceiving while smoking marijuana are lowered.  
    31. Marijuana Does Lead to Reckless Driving : The causes of this are the effects of marijuana on alertness, coordination, reaction time, and much more. A roadside study of reckless drivers who were not impaired by alcohol showed that 45 percent tested positive for marijuana. Another study found that habitual cannabis users were 9.5 times more likely to be involved in crashes, with 5.6 percent of people who had crashed having taken the drug, compared to 0.5 percent of the control group.  
    32. Alcohol Better Than Marijuana : Many experts have reported on the benefits of drinking alcohol such as red wine. Containing procyanidins, they are said to help with all sorts of health problems. Of course, only in moderation does it do more good than bad versus marijuana. 
    33. Marijuana More Potent Than in 1960’s : The average potency of marijuana, which has risen steadily for three decades, has exceeded ten percent for the first time according to the U.S. government. CNN goes on to say that the average level is expected to climb up to 15 or 16 percent before leveling off. The average of ten percent alone is three times what the average was 30 years ago.  
    34. It Does Cause Death : In a short and heart breaking comment left by David White on April 2010, he describes the tragic death of his brother after long term use of marijuana. The autopsy showed he had the organs of a 100 year old man. As a retired high school teacher, David also saw many bright students lose their way after taking up marijuana.

Lesser Known Reasons to Illegalize Marijuana Today

You may not have heard of these reasons to illegalize marijuana.
    35. Smoking Pot Doesn’t Cure Brain Cancer : The “Journal of Clinical Investigation”published a study in 2009 on how marijuana effects brain cancer. However, a specially prepared part of the cannabinoid was used and not available to even the marijuana-buying public. The extensive and heavy report is featured here. 
    36. Everyone Else is Smoking It : A common argument to get someone to try it for the first time, it actually isn’t true. According to the NIDA only one in seven 10th grade students have smoked marijuana in the previous month. Additionally, fewer than one in five are current users.  
    37. Marijuana Worse Than Cigarettes : In a study for “The New England Journal of Medicine,”scientists compared the health hazards of marijuana versus cigarettes. As compared with smoking tobacco, smoking marijuana was associated with a nearly fivefold greater increment in the blood carboxyhemoglobin level, an approximately threefold increase in the amount of tar inhaled, and retention in the respiratory tract of one third more inhaled tar. In short: marijuana does five times more damage to blood, has three times the amount of tar, and 33 percent more inhaled tar in the lungs than cigarettes. 
    38. Girls Are Using It More : Teenage girls may be more easily lured by drugs and alcohol than teenage boys, according to a new survey conducted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. The new survey showed that teen girls are also more susceptible to alcohol use. Click the article to read more.  
    39. Hemp is Legal : In this press release from the DEA, they clarify the status of hemp in the law. Products that aren’t allowed to contain any THC from hemp include beer, coffee, flour, and other edible products. Products that do not allow THC to enter the body such as bird seed, cosmetics, and paper are legal. 
    40. Immoral to Smoke Pot : If of Christian faith, do you ever wonder what the Bible says regarding pot? Although the Bible does not address marijuana directly, it does discuss other mind-altering drugs. A passage from Galatians reads “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.”  
    41. Drug Tests Help Users : Global Change is a site that seeks to map future trends in today’s world. They argue that drug testing at work is “the single most effective weapon we have against adult substance abuse. It is a proven, low cost strategy which identifies those needing help, reduces demand, cuts accidents and sick leave, improves attendance, and increases productivity.”  
    42. But Can Hurt Other Tests : Studies show that marijuana use during peak academic years in a student’s life can have a significant negative impact on academic performance. These times include college entrance exams, SAT, and others. It is also reported that a student with a D average is four times more likely to have used marijuana than one with an A average. 
    43. Marijuana and Depression : Daniel Hall-Flavin is a doctor at the Mayo Clinic. In an answer to a reader’s question, he discusses how marijuana goes hand in hand with depression. This is more true for heavy or even regular marijuana users.   
    44. Marijuana Kills Brain Cells : According to WebMD, marijuana use may shrink the brain. It goes on to report that a study shows heavy marijuana use over several years was associated with structural differences in at least two different regions of the brain, the hippocampus and amygdala. The results showed men who smoked pot regularly had significantly lower brain tissue volumes in the hippocampus and amygdala areas, as well as more symptoms of mental disorders.

Non-User Reasons to Illegalize Marijuana Today

Even if you believe in marijuana legalization and don’t use it, have a look at these reasons.
    45. We Already Have Too Many Entitlements : Dr. Keith Ablow weighs in on medical marijuana, government entitlements, and what they hold for the future. Using bailouts and freebies currently being subsidized by the tax payer, he lays out what the future will be like when all 50 states, instead of just the 14, have legalized marijuana for everything from pain to social anxiety disorder. 
    46. Pot Smoking Kills Others : The headline from “The Pittsburgh Channel”simply reads “’Burnt Marijuana Odor On Driver In Mt. Lebo Mom’s Death.” A woman pushing her two kids in a stroller was hit by an SUV in June of 2010. While the children survived, the mother was killed and the police reported the odor of burnt marijuana on the driver. The driver failed a sobriety test and only at the age of 20 had seven other traffic violations.  
    47. Opiate Caused ER Visits Skyrocket : The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the most common poisonings treated in emergency departments in the United States are caused by misuse of opioid pain medications. These involve prescribed pain medications which are being misused and include medical marijuana. In a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, they found a 111 percent increase in emergency room visits involving non-medical use of prescription opioid pain relievers.  
    48. Marijuana Also Tops Drug Related ER Visits : Ever wonder why lines at the ER are so long? According to Drug Science.org, marijuana related episodes at emergency rooms increased by 46 percent from 1988 to 1993 and 22 percent from 1990 to 1993. 
    49. It Contributes to Human Trafficking : The problem of child trafficking in drug factories and farms is growing in the UK, and may be an indicator of a new global trend of child trafficking. In March of 2010, police found eight slave children in an English marijuana factory, six of which were kidnapped from overseas. The site Change.org has much more.  
    50. It’s the Kids Who Suffer : In a horrifying video, a seven year old boy who had down syndrome has marijuana smoke blown in his face while his mother watched and approved. She was eventually caught when her computer was repossessed by an electronics store who found the video on her hard drive.
The above 50 reasons to legalize/illegalize marijuana today are meant only to be a tool for open discussion and debate. Please consult a physician before beginning any use of medicinal or recreational drug.

Thanks, Rachel. Check out her blog at RadiologyDegree.com.

Chester Campbell

Visit me at Mystery Mania


Terry Stonecrop said...

Well done. I'm on the side of legalizing it, for medical reasons as well as some societal ones mentioned.

Unknown said...

It's about supply and demand. So much money, and the flow is going the wrong way, to the wrong people. Folks will get their pot. Why not regulate it and tax it, take the market and money away from the Mexican drug and human smuggling cartels currently invading our Southwest borders?

Unknown said...

Interesting Huff Post article on topic.


Unknown said...

And believe it or not, in D.C. there's a Pot for the Poor program. The law which legalized medical marijuana also included a provision requiring discounts to the poor.


Jaden Terrell said...

Thanks for sharing, Chester. This is food for thought. I'm in favor of legalizing it, though, for the reasons Ben stated.