With the current buzz surrounding the issue of marijuana legalization, a lot of information is spread regarding its effects, both positive and negative. Marijuana is a sensitive issue concerning the government and almost everyone paying their taxes which goes to the implementation of drug laws including the prohibition of Marijuana. While there is proof of the medicinal effects of these fast growing plants, some people regard Marijuana as good business opportunity that will surely sell to the market and boost the economy.
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With the legalization of marijuana becoming the next big wield, there is a great need to know the truth and have an educated opinion regarding this long debate over Marijuana and finally put an end to this debate. Will Marijuana become a runner of our economy or will it be the doom of humanity?
“I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up…I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol. It is less dangerous, in terms of its impact on the individual consumer. It’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.”
– President Barrack Obama told Editor David Remnick of The New Yorker.
Used by almost 100 million Americans and even grown as indoor plants, Marijuana, also known as Cannabis, is the third most popular recreational drug in America. True to Obama’s statement, government surveys showed that around 50,000 people die each year from alcohol poisoning while 400,000 deaths have been attributed to tobacco smoking. With the 25 million Americans who have tried smoking the long-begotten weed, it was proven non-toxic without any numbers credited to its death through overdose.
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Recently, members of the Congress explained that numbers have proven Cannabis to be less dangerous ‘in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.’ However, Marijuana remains listed in the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 along with heroin and LSD as a Schedule I drug.
Marijuana has been considered as a medicinal plant ever since ancient times particularly in China from 2737 B.C. From then on, its reach went far as Europe in A.D. 500. Its fame boosted during World War II and extensively cultivated as their sources was cut off from Asia. Before being listed as harmful drugs, Cannabis was listed in the United States Pharmacopeia as an intoxicant and euphoric drug for labor pains, nausea, and even rheumatism from 1850 to 1942. In between those years, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics portrayed marijuana as a powerful, addictive substance that would lead users into narcotics addiction. In the 1960s, it became a symbol of rebellion against authority. In 1975, Mexico eradicated the production of Cannabis moving its production to Colombia. However, the American government promoted strict laws against the weed which heightened the “War on drugs.” After the significant decrease of marijuana within a decade, marijuana increased its trend once more. Over less than a century, Marijuana has caused a major whirr in the government and right now, people are causing a storm over its legalization and decriminalization.
With the increased knowledge of people about Cannabis through modern technology, numerous states saw the broad medical use of marijuana. As such, 1996 witnessed a series of states enacting medical marijuana laws and in 2012 voters in the states of Colorado and Washington approved the legalization of marijuana. However, this war has been tipped off greatly by the probable abuse of Marijuana users which do not use it for medicinal purposes
The Good and the Bad in Marijuana decriminalization
As stated in the Marijuana Reform Act of 1977, classified possession of small amounts of marijuana up to 25 grams is considered a violation subject to penalties ranging from a $100 to $250 fine and/or up to 15 days in jail depending upon whether it is a first, second or third offense, etc. Possession of more than 25 grams but less than 8 ounces is a misdemeanor. Possession of more than 8 ounces is a felony. Sale of less than 25 grams is a misdemeanor; sale of more than 25 grams is a felony.
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Before being considered as an illegal drug, these indoor plants, Cannabis, could be grown at your own yard and have been regarded as medicinal, yet if abused could be harmful to people without even having the digits to back it up. How well do we know Marijuana?
Benefits of plants to health have been regarded as important in the advancement of medical technology. Numerous studies have shown that smoking Marijuana gives off feelings of relaxation, happiness, increase in appetite, appreciation of music and surroundings, forgetfulness, better imagination and visualization, and sexual excitement. Marijuana has long been used for medicinal purposes. In ancient times, people have always seen marijuana and other plants as health and productivity hacks important to health and healing. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the main active ingredient in Marijuna, has been found to be supported by more than 60 U.S. and international health organizations under the supervision of a physician. Studies have shown that Cannabis could treat and have huge positive effects on a wide range of diseases such as nerve damage, nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, tumors, migraines, asthma, hepatitis C, epilepsy, alcoholism, HIV, AIDS, and even dementia.
Other than its medicinal wonders, varied cannabis specie could be used as hemp which contains a small amount of THC. This specific specie could be utilized for textiles, paper, paints, clothing, plastics, cosmetics, and animal feed among others. Currently, the hemp plant is produced in over 30 nations. Though grown and accepted across the American soil, it is nevertheless uprooted and destroyed by the law enforcement since it still contains THC.
Though the emotional effects have been proven positive, when used in a different context, it could be seen as negative which include being forgetful, over sleeping, not getting things done, concentration difficulties, neglecting work or duties, and loss of balance or dizziness. Increased usage of the weed combined with tobacco smoking could induce at increased rate of heart attack by 20-100 percent. Moreover, marijuana users have a 4.8-fold risk increase after smoking the drug in the first hour especially those with a history of cardiac problems. Long usage of cannabis contains 50 to 70 % more of cancer-causing substances which could cause as much damage to the lungs as up to five regular cigarettes smoked one after another. This may also cause bronchitis, an inflammation of the respiratory tract.
A long-term study in New Zealand showed a decrease of IQ among other cognitive abilities between 13 and 38 years of age. The THC works up the endocannabinoid system which causes a temporary psychotic reaction the alteration of mood, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory thus the loss of IQ. Moreover, mental illness has also been linked to high doses of marijuana use which could worsen the state of schizophrenic patients and develop psychosis. Working up the endocannabinoid system could increase the risk of neurobehavioral problems to the babies of pregnant women. Other consequences include problem with attention, memory, and problem solving.
Cannabis, the Next Entrepreneurial Wave?
With the information overload, people have been throwing stones at each other with its legalization and yet the state sees its bad effects alone. Other than its positive effects and legalization, businessmen see great potential in Cannabis as a major boost of the economy and sees Marijuana as a billion dollar business opportunity. But exactly, how could this be?
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In an article from Forbes.com, it said that the taxation of marijuana in the 1930s led to the criminalization of the drug. States have seen the legalization of marijuana for medical reasons sees it can be regulated and controlled. The argument leads to legalizing the weed and allowing to grow plants at home such as these means having a market where the benefit flows to the taxpayers and government other than the dealers and the cartels. Accordingly, compared with corn, Marijuana is the second most profitable crop in the United States. Looking at other legalized products such as tobacco and alcohol, alcohol has generated $91 billion in wages and more than $40 billion local revenues. These numbers might just be seen as a prime mover for the legalization of the drug.
However, having it legalized and decriminalized would in turn lose control over the drug usage. As such, the regulations would be closed and the gates would be wide open for drug addicts and may even legalize other drugs such as heroin and cocaine. These are mere premises; the federal government puts forth in a dangerous situation. Taking risk for the advancement of medicine and the betterment of society or simply dropping it off and opt for the usual, keeping it underground and leaving all revenues to dealers and the cartels.