The Marijuana Debate

As college students, we are constantly surrounded by illegal substances such as marijuana. I often find myself wondering, would marijuana be as frequently abused if it were legal? There are differing opinions on the potential legality of marijuana. Let's take a look at both arguments.


One side argues that marijuana should remain illegal because it is a dangerous substance.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana causes a "high" and other effects such as "distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory." People who use marijuana are compromising their own safety and the safety of others even by performing simple everyday tasks such as driving, working, or taking care of children. Another argument on this side is that marijuana can often times become a "gateway drug" to more dangerous substances such as cocaine and meth. Studies show that chronic marijuana users eventually build up a tolerance to the drug and therefore often times feel the need to "upgrade" to a stronger substance. Marijuana also has an effect on physical health. For example, when it is smoked, it causes irritation in the lungs, leading to respiratory problems. One huge arguement on this side is that marijuana IS addictive. It is reported that long-term marijuana users show withdrawl symptoms when attempting to quit. For these reasons, many people believe that marijuana should be illegal.

The other side argues that marijuana is not as dangerous as people claim, and therefore it should be legal. People who support this view also claim that marijuana is more desirable to people because it is illegal and that is the reason it is abused (similar to the prohibition of alcohol way back when.) These people argue that marijuana is not a "gateway drug" because of its substance but because people who deal marijuana also deal harder drugs. Marijuana users are exposed to other drugs that way. Another arugment on this side is that marijuana is not nearly as harmful physically and mentally as cigarettes and alcohol. Therefore, since alcohol and cigarettes are legal after a certain age, marijuana also should be made legal. 

Personally, I have no idea why this is an issue. Unless it is prescribed for legitimate medical reasons, there is absolutely no positive benefit that marijuana can bring about. People should shift their thinking and ask why cigarettes are not illegal instead of asking why marijuana is illegal. Anything that is simply harmful should not be made more readily available.

Read more about the harmful effects of marijuana.



Marijuana was made illegal because hemp threatened logging industries, who stood to lose a lot of business over the introduction of a cheaper alternative. It was vilified, and the whole situation was mishandled to the extent that the plant was blamed for a number of mental and physical illnesses we now know have no correlation. Personally, I believe that legalizing marijuana for recreational/medicinal use nationwide would significantly improve our economy through taxation, and have the second-hand effect of popularizing hemp (thus, saving a lot of trees). I disagree with you when you state that "there is no positive benefit that marijuana can bring about," when in fact (beyond the reasons I've already provided) it's been shown to potentially delay the symptoms of Alzheimer's, according to this article:

Before I even got to the end of your blog, I was thinking about how cigarettes should be banned and then you brought that up and I really could not agree more. I know a friend of a friend who goes to school in Colorado where they legalized recreational use of marijuana and she said that now it's so easily accessible, people have started to rely on other, stronger drugs to give them their high. Obviously not everyone would react to the legalization this way but it's something to be concerned about. Going along with what was mentioned above, yes taxing marijuana could bring it a lot of revenue for our country, but if they tax it too much people won't pay for that and they'll just buy and sell it under the table as they do right now. For now, I think this will continue to be a highly debated topic and they'll have to look closely at what happens to the states where marijuana is legal now.

I actually wrote a paper on this debate for my english 15 class and it's an interesting topic to discuss. Overall, I believe it's apparent that it shouldn't be legal, but neither should alcohol or cigarettes. It's sad there has been no reported deaths on marijuana and ridiculously high death rates from lung cancer directly relating to cigarette use and alcohol poisonings. Although it is a drug, the reason it was banned was related to our racial issues with respect to the belief that Mexican's and African American's brought it to the United States. Once they claimed that was the majority of people using it, they created rumors of bad side effects and made it illegal it based off of no evidence of real hazards.

I'm not saying that marijuana should be illegal or legal, it just makes me wonder why alcohol isn't illegal for all ages as well, because it pretty much has the same effects as marijuana does. I don't understand why one is allowed and not the other. If alcohol is allowed after the age of 21 because people are then said to be "responsible" and "mature", then why doesn't weed have the same kind of rules? Both cause you to lack judgement and maybe make stupid decisions, but on the other hand, both may release tension and temporarily relieve stress. I think that they should either both be legal or both be illegal because, honestly there is not a big difference.

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