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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

If Marijuana Is Legal, Will Addiction Rise?

Marijuana legalization has been a hot button topic for many years and is one that has serious implications. America's prohibition on "Weed" has many people wondering if legalization would do more good than the current laws have done. If Marijuana is legal, will addiction rise? I have found many great arguments on both sides of the table, this topic is one that should be discussed in depth for the fact that the question at hand is an American problem; more Marijuana is consumed in the US per capita than any other country. I can see positives and negatives for the legalization of Marijuana, I am attempting to get the conversation started on this delicate subject.

I do believe the question at hand is one that most adults have asked themselves at one point or another, whether or not legalization would do more good than criminalization has? The argument that "Pot" is just like every other illegal drug does not hold as much water as it used to. That is the danger with putting all illegal drugs in the same category for the fact that it is simply illegal raises social stigmas with the uninformed; which, in turn, has impacted how the government treats people who have dealings with Marijuana. The writing is on the wall and whether or not we choose to read it greatly affects us as a nation. In many cases trying Marijuana in America has been a right of passage since the 60's, the amount of people who continue to smoke marijuana is very low. A very small percentage of all that have tried "weed" continue smoking it on a regular basis; most people become social smokers, meaning they can take it or leave it. The small group of people that smoke daily are more than likely people with addictive personalities and perhaps the disease of addiction. Norm Stamper, who was Seattle's police chief from 1994 to 2000 said in a New York Times Article, "Any law disobeyed by more than 100 million Americans, the number who've tried marijuana at least once, is bad public policy. As a 34-year police veteran, I've seen how marijuana prohibition breeds disrespect for the law, and contempt for those who enforce it... Let's make policy that helps, not handcuffs, those who suffer ill effects of marijuana or other drugs, a policy that crushes the illegal market - the cause of so much violence and harm to users and non-users alike."

With the economy spiraling out of control and doctors stating that Marijuana is no more harmful or addictive than alcohol, many people argue that legalization could be one of the answers to boosting the economy. People have been growing, selling, and smoking Marijuana despite strict laws right here in the United States; legalizing it and putting government control over the substance would allow it to be taxed, thus decreasing the black market activity exponentially. Is it a coincidence that the many of the banks in America with liquid money are in Northern California? A professor at the University of Washington, Roger Roffman, believes this could be done one of two ways. "Surveys indicate increasingly positive attitudes in the U.S. for liberalizing marijuana policies. Two ways of doing this are: (1) legalization, which would involve lawful cultivation and sale of marijuana, and (2) decriminalization, which would retain criminal penalties for cultivation and sale while removing them for possession of small amounts."

Many who have experimented with Marijuana have suffered greatly, but not necessarily regarding their health. Legal policies have, in some cases, done more damage to a person's life than the side-effects of the drug. "I support finding alternatives to criminal penalties for marijuana possession. Those penalties have costs (being jailed, having a criminal record, barriers to employment, loss of scholarships, to name a few) and may accomplish little in deterring use."(Roger Roffman) Justification for this level of punishment has yet to be seen, nor has any good argument been clearly stated for why Marijuana is illegal and not Alcohol or Cigarettes. Why?

In this post I have tried to present a non-biased view of a subject that is at the forefront of social politics. I am not sure what the right answer to this problem is, if any at all; what I do know is that change needs to be considered regarding Marijuana policy in America. If legalization does come to fruition, policy makers need to be careful in the way it is done; there would need to be stringent rules in the way it is marketed and the way it is distributed. I do believe Americans can find a way to meet in the middle on this subject but it will take people on both sides being honest and realistic in the way we proceed. The idea is to lower drug related crimes and keep our children educated and informed of the possibility of addiction with Marijuana and all drugs for that matter. What we don't want is people getting rich off "pushing" the disease of addiction, that is promoting a product that can be addictive, as the cigarette marketers did for so many years. "Telling marketers they can get rich by creating disease is dangerous." - Mark A.R. Kleiman, Professor of Public Policy at U.C.L.A.

Our Whiteside Manor Blog seeks to be topical in the areas of addiction and recovery. As California considers new law, let us know your thoughts on this important subject...

In the meantime, I invite you to watch Dr. Nancy Snyderman of NBC News, as she discusses with a panel "Should Marijuana be Legal?"


2 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading your post. I have been trying to follow this story about California considering legalization. It can get pretty complicated. When Dr. Snyderman did this interview on July 8th, it got pretty heated. I am glad you made it available here for more people to watch. Your post has given us a lot to think about.

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  2. Ignorant man... He directly ignores and changes the subject of vaporizing marijuana. It is an EXTREMELY efficient and effective from of cannabis use that is healthy as well. There is also the use of a water bong that is possible; a less healthy than vaporizing method, but healthier than most conventional uses; through water filtering. There also bubblers; pipes with a water filtering use. These men are obviously persuaded by their pride and previous misconception of marijuana use to be against marijuana ingestion through smoking or vaporizing.

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