Running head: JUST SAY NO TO LEGALIZATION
Just Say No to Legalization of Marijuana
Legalization of illicit drugs is a controversial topic. Proponents approach the issue from many vantage points. This paper will address two main arguments proponents of drug legalization put forth. First, they claim illicit drugs such as marijuana should be legalized due to medical value this drug is alleged to possess. They also claim that legalization would reduce crime. The arguments and reasoning proponents use can sound alluring at first glance, but it proves to be flawed under closer scrutiny. I will refute the argument that marijuana has legitimate medical use, and the claim that legalizing marijuana or other illicit drugs would reduce crime. First, I will discuss the claim that marijuana has medical use. "In 1994, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that marijuana should remain a Schedule I drug: highly addictive with no medical usefulness. The court noted that the pro-marijuana physicians had relied on non-scientific evidence" (DEA, 2000). The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is an association which advocates the legalization and decriminalization of drugs such as marijuana. Under the guise of persons concerned about alleviating the pain of the terminally ill, NORML claims that making marijuana legal for medical purposes is a legitimate reason to legalize marijuana. Ironically, the book titled Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base which NORML refers to on their web page (2000) in support of their claim that smoking marijuana is beneficial, indeed more beneficial than any currently legal pain remedy, does not support their view under closer inspection. The authors (Joy et al, 1999) at the Institute of Medicine warn of the dangers of smoking marijuana: The chronic effects of marijuana are of greater concern for medical use and fall into two categories: the effects of chronic smoking and the effects of THC. Marijuana smoking is associated with abnormalities of cells lining the human respiratory tract. Marijuana smoke, like tobacco smoke, is associated with increased risk of cancer, lung damage, and poor pregnancy outcomes (p 5). The Institute of Medicine is not alone in its rejection of marijuana as a safe and effective medicine. Organizations rejecting medical value of marijuana include: The American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, National Sclerosis Association, the American Glaucoma Association, American Academy of Ophthalmology, National Eye Institute, and the National Cancer Institute (DEA, 2000). The Institute of Medicine also warns against smoking marijuana as a safe delivery system of THC (Tetra Hydrocannabinol) the main psychoactive ingredient of marijuana: Scientific data indicate the potential therapeutic value of cannabinoid drugs, primarily THC, for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation; smoked marijuana, however, is a crude THC delivery system that also delivers harmful substances. (Joy et al, 1999, p 4). THC is already legally available in a pill called Marinol. There are even more effective, newer medicines than Marinol currently available (DEA, 2000). This should make the smoking of marijuana for medical purposes a mute point upon consideration of the risks noted above.
Now, I will discuss the claim that crime would be reduced as a result of legalization of marijuana. Donnie Marshall, Deputy Administrator of the DEA, in his statement to Congress on June 16, 1999 about the issue of drug legalization, decriminalization and harm reduction, stated "It's been said that you can't put the genie back in the bottle or the toothpaste back in the tube. I think those are apt metaphors for what will happen if America goes down the path of legalization. Once America gives into a drug culture, and all the social decay that comes with such a culture, it would be very hard to restore a...
References: Bureau of Justice Statistics. (1994). Fact Sheet: Drug Related Crime. [On-line]. Available: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/drrc.pdf
Drug Enforcement Agency. (1999). DEA Congressional Testimony. [On-line]. Available: http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/cngrtest/ct061699.htm
Drug Enforcement Agency. (2000). Say it Straight: Medical Myths of Marijuana. [On-line]. Available: http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/sayit/myths.htm
Joy, J. E., Watson, Jr., S. J., & Benson, Jr., J. A. (Eds.), (1999). Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base, Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
NORML. (2000). [On-line]. Available: http://www.norml.org/
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