The decriminalization of marijuana has been a hot topic recently. The liberal party of Canada has been at the forefront of the conversation regarding marijuana legalization. Prime minister Trudeau’s Liberal government will legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana. In the United States, it is legalized in nine states and Washington, DC and decriminalized in 13 states. I personally think marijuana should be legalized and here is why.
Marijuana is actually safer than some of the already legalized drugs such as tobacco and alcohol. A study published in Lancet in 2010 and reported on by The Economist, drug experts in the U.K assessed the harms to other and to the user of marijuana as less than the harms posed by alcohol or tobacco use.
There is a lot of stigmas around this drug even though there aren’t any recorded accounts of death from overdose. That’s right. Not one single account of death from the overdose of marijuana. 38,329 people died from drug overdose in 2010 and 60% of those deaths were related to prescription drugs. On the other hand, 25,692 people died from alcohol-related reasons that same year. Funny how so many people are okay with alcohol but not with marijuana.
One of the common opposition argument is that it will lead to dependence. But as Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains in his essay “Why I Changed My Mind About Weed” marijuana leads to dependence in about 9-10 percent of adults, whereas cocaine to about 20 percent of its users and heroin to about 25 percent of its users. Tobacco is the worst one with a rate of 30 percent of its users becoming addicted.
Cannabis is a great sleep aid. It is great for cancer patients suffering from nausea because according to a Discovery Health article it is very successful in relieving nausea. Furthermore, this drug helps patients with HIV/AIDS experiencing loss of appetite.
Marijuana does not sound like a very destructive drug, yet it was initially considered a schedule I drug. The reason being, Richard Nixon who signed the Controlled Substances Act into law was culturally and racially motivated. His aides and Oval Office Tapes showcase his disdain for the countercultural movement and racial minorities.
As stated by an article on Washington Post, “The tapes also make it clear that Nixon wanted to link marijuana use and its negative effects to two groups who he held in contempt: African Americans and hippies. Nixon even appointed a commission to look into the ills of marijuana — the Shafer Commission. When the group issued its report entitled, “Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding,” which explained that marijuana was not as dangerous or addictive as it had widely been perceived, Nixon called his handpicked chairman, former Republican Pennsylvania governor Ray Shafer, into the Oval Office to be chastised.”
This whole war on marijuana began with racism and it is still continuing. An analysis done by the Toronto Star found that “Black people with no history of criminal convictions have been three times more likely to be arrested by Toronto police for possession of small amounts of marijuana than white people with similar backgrounds.” Legalizing marijuana will help fight against racism. It has many benefits including its low risk of abuse. Legalizing it will help fight against it by prohibiting funding for gangs and cartels. Overall, it is a much safer alternative compared to already legalized drugs such as tobacco and alcohol.