The Downside Of Legalizing Marijuana
When examining the issue of marijuana legalization, pros and cons fill up both sides of the balance sheet. But while there may be some benefits to legalization, it should be noted that benefits of pot legalization do not directly translate to benefits of pot use. While the downsides and dangers of pot use are plentiful, that is a separate issue.
Marijuana – Not Harmless Or Equivalent To Medicine
One of the primary cons of marijuana legalization is the mixed message it sends to users and potential users, especially teens. Proponents of marijuana legalization speak of health benefits or cite it as a treatment for chronic pain or for the relief of symptoms associated with chronic illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and even AIDS. This language takes marijuana out of the realm of “illicit drug” and into the category of “alternative medicine.” If not seen as a substance that promotes health, it will, at least be seen as harmless. Unfortunately marijuana is not harmless, nor is it akin to medicine.
Though marijuana has been legalized in some states for medical use, that does not mean it has been approved by the FDA as a treatment for any sort of medical condition. Nor should it be linked with other non-FDA approved treatments and therapies such as herbal remedies, alternative medicines or vitamins. Regardless of its legal status, marijuana is a drug and it carries with it health risks and consequences. And voting to legalize it actually undermines the authority of the FDA, putting the task of approving drugs and medical treatments into the hands of voters and legislators.
High Risk For Dependence And Health Consequences
Questionable health benefits notwithstanding, people who use marijuana for medical or recreational purposes are building a relationship with a substance that carries a high risk of dependence and addiction. Using marijuana “medically” does not mean that one is exempt from short-term memory loss, that cognitive function is not impaired, that lung tissue is not damaged or that it may not become a gateway drug to more potent and dangerous substances.
Risks Outweigh Suggested “Benefits”
Those who oppose legalization continue to argue that any suggested benefits of marijuana use are far overshadowed by the risks and dangers. Anti-legalization doctors and scientists demonstrate that there are no measurable health benefits of marijuana use. The scientific research does not support the claims and adequate, reliable research has not been conducted. The conditions for which medical marijuana may be useful are broad and vague. Opponents also note that the legal, non-marijuana therapies currently on the market are more effective in treating the conditions for which pot is suggested
The cons of legalizing marijuana are many. Though marijuana may have some suggested (though not scientifically proven) health benefits, it is important to remember that those benefits come with risk as well. Legalization of marijuana not only sends the wrong message to young people about what is medicine and what isn’t, what is healthy and acceptable for use and what isn’t, it also may open the door to increased legalization of pot for recreational use. This in turn may lead to the demand for more hardcore illicit drugs, not to mention an increase in the national addiction epidemic.
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