For a long time, the marijuana plant has always taken a center stage when it comes to plant restrictions. This is because the plant is associated with various organic compounds most of which are miscued by people. However, studies have revealed that the organic compounds found in marijuana plant have many important uses that cannot be ignored in health management (Smith & Lannon, 2017). Owing to the risks associated to its use when not regulated, many governments have opted to banning the use of marijuana, unless directed for medical purposes. This has elicited a raging debate that has for a long time been unresolved. This means that there is need for governments to rethink its position and strategies of dealing with marijuana issues. Additionally, studies have also shown that cannabis has less harmful effects when compared to other drugs, such as alcohol or tobacco, that do not receive ‘serious sanctions’ like cannabis (Fischer et al., 2017 & To, Gracie and Ford, 2016). As such, it is noteworthy pointing out that whether it is for medical or recreational purposes, marijuana should be legalized since the benefits outway the perceived negative effects.
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To start with, there are exorbitant social costs associated with prohibition of marijuana. In particular, many governments have allocated ‘serious’ funds to help fight the use of marijuana. Governments spend a lot of money to fund anti-drug institutions and bodies whose main aim is to curb the use and distribution of marijuana. Similarly, governments also pay high legal fees to advocates who take cases of people caught in possession of marijuana on behalf of the state. In addition, people caught in connection with marijuana are charged and eventually jailed if found guilty. Management of these prisoners while in jail is quite costly and thus governments end up spending a lot of money just to maintain these prisoners in correctional facilities (Dueholm, 2014). This means that there is a need for governments to rethink their position and strategies of dealing with marijuana issues.
Of more significance, there are few benefits associated with this decriminalization. Despite the concerted efforts and funds provided by authorities, there has been little success in curbing its use throughout the world due to several reasons. Firstly, the existence of black market makes it very difficult to curb the use of marijuana. It is even more difficult for governments to truck marijuana dealers who are in most cases drug warlords, who make every effort to hide their tracks when dealing with it. In addition, most of these dealers do not use legitimate methods when transacting like banks, therefore, it becomes very difficult to identify them (Neill Harris & Morris, 2017). Additionally, research has also shown that cannabis has less harmful effects when compared to other drugs, such as alcohol or tobacco, that do not receive ‘serious sanctions’ like cannabis (Fischer et al., 2017 & To, Gracie and Ford, 2016).
On the other hand, marijuana has long held a particular attraction to a large segment of youths, thus exposing them to unprecedented risk. Studies show that by the time they become adults, 100 million U.S. youths have tried marijuana. Approving the use of marijuana for recreational and medical purposes therefore exposes them to harmful effects associated with its use. One such harmful effect is addiction, which leads to poor performances and possible school dropout, as studies indicate that youth who smoke marijuana suffer from particular brain abnormalities, which regulate emotions and motivation (Costa, 2015). Further, studies indicate that youth who use marijuana daily eventually become dependent on it, and are more likely to attempt suicide or even engage in other illegal drugs in the future. In addition, these youths may experience lower life satisfaction, poor physical and mental health as well as relationship issues.
Despite the fact that the use of marijuana comes with many associated risks not only in youths but also in adults, marijuana has extensive uses in the medical field. The use of marijuana can therefore be regulated and/ or its use limited only for medical purposes. There are several ways through which the use of marijuana can be regulated in youth. Firstly, the youth can be educated on the benefits of abstaining from use of marijuana. As such, youth will make informed behavioral choices when it comes to its use. Secondly, key regulation measures such as marijuana product labeling and content regulation should be put in place in order for the youth to have prior and proper information of what they are using and the possible risks associated with it before engaging. With these measures in place, it is possible to reduce the harmful effects associated with the use of marijuana and especially with the youth.
In conclusion, it is evident that the benefits of legalizing cannabis outweigh the perceived negative effects. There are exorbitant social costs associated with prohibition of marijuana ranging from allocation of funds to fight marijuana use to establishment of anti-drug institutions as well as paying high legal fees and managing prisoners convicted with marijuana use. On the other hand, although the use of marijuana among the youth exposes them to great health-related as well as social risks, measures can be taken to ensure that they make more informed decisions before engaging in it.
- Costa, D. (2015). Evidence grows regarding marijuana’s harmful effects on youths. Caribbean Business, 43(25), 19.
- Dueholm, B. J. (2014). After prohibition. Christian Century, 131(15), 26-29.
- Fischer, B., Russell, C., Sabioni, P., van den Brink, W., Le Foll, B., Hall, W., & … Room, R. (2017). Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines: A Comprehensive Update of Evidence and Recommendations. American Journal of Public Health, 107(8), e1-e12.
- Garnier-Dykstra, L. M., Caldeira, K. M., Vincent, K. B., O’Grady, K. E., & Arria, A. M. (2012). Nonmedical Use of Prescription Stimulants during College: Four-Year Trends in Exposure Opportunity, Use, Motives, and Sources. Journal of American College Health, 60(3), 226-234.
- Neill Harris, K., & Morris, J. C. (2017). “Grass” Roots in Texas. World Affairs, 180(1), 93-126.
- Smith, P. D., & Lannon, A. P. (2017). Local Regulation of Medical Marijuana in Florida. Florida Bar Journal, 91(9), 59-63.
- To, N., Gracie, D. J., & Ford, A. C. (2016). Systematic review with meta-analysis: the adverse effects of tobacco smoking on the natural history of Crohn’s disease. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 43(5), 549-561.