Legalized marijuana for recreational use

Jessica Pellegrino – General Assignment Reporter

A Pew Research Study found roughly 53 percent of Americans believe that marijuana should be legalized for recreational use. This number has almost doubled since the last time this study was conducted in 2006.

It seems, little by little, Americans are getting on board with the idea of legalized marijuana. But why is that?

First, we should look at a little history. Marijuana as a recreational drug first made its way on to American soil during the Mexican Revolution in the early 1900s. Cannabis had been in American medicinesfor many years prior to this, but the introduction of Mexican immigrants brought marijuana as recreational substance.

Like many situations in America at this time, the media used fear mongering to scare people. The media portrayed the new Mexican-Americans as disruptive and uncivilized. As such, the criminalization of marijuana started as an extension of Americas racism towards the new Mexican settlers.

A few years later, the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 officially outlawed the drugs use and sales. This was revisited during the Nixon Era, but the sentiment remained: marijuana was the enemy.

Fast forward six decades, and in 1996, California became the first state to legalize the drug for medical use. Nowadays, the drug is legal for medical purposes in over 30 states. But, the drug remains generally illegal as a recreational drug.

One of the main defenses for the cause to keep marijuana illegal is that it is dangerous. While no one has ever died from a THC overdose, drug addiction is a growing problem in the United States. In 2010, there were nearly 40,000 drug-related overdoses. That number is on a steady incline. Drug addiction is clearly a real problem.

However, marijuana is no doubt safer than other substances that have already been made legal in the United States. If you drink or smoke cigarettes, you should not have a problem with marijuana. According to the Lancet drug scoring scale, which scores substances on both their harmfulness to users and their harmfulness to others, alcohol and tobacco are shown as more harmful than marijuana in both categories.

Most importantly, however, it seems that every day, new studies are released citing the health benefits of marijuana to cure or quell symptoms of countless ailments.

Marijuana is a known sleep aid, as well as a commonly used drug to subdue nausea.  Marijuana is a great way to stimulate appetite in chemotherapy patients, as well as people with HIV or Crohns Disease. It is also a safe pain reliever, for people with muscle spasms, like multiple sclerosis patients. Prescription painkiller addiction is much more dangerous.

It also has anti-inflammatory properties, so it can help with swelling from arthritis or a concussion.

The list of possible medical issues for the product goes on and on. But, unfortunately, the illegal status of the substance has kept medical professionals from being able to do large amounts of research with it.

Legalizing marijuana could open up so many doors medically, so it does not make any sense to not allow this substance while alcohol and tobacco remain legal.

Photo Credit: Brett Levin

HEADER PHOTO: Legal marijuana for recreational use in Colorado


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