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It is believed that throughout the history of the United States social experiments, the 20th Century Probation leads in the most notorious fails. The trial transformed millions of innocent Americans into criminals since it outlawed the consumption of alcohol. When it came into effect, prohibition created a new class of criminals that illegally engaged in the manufacturing and distribution of alcohol, a substance which was formerly legal. By the time the federal authorities repealed prohibition, it was already late, and American authorities had learned the hard way the implication of making some substance illegal. Some observers use this case study from the prohibition era to make an inference to the case we face today as country as far as the issue of marijuana is concerned. According to these people, the state is repeating the same mistake it did during the prohibition era; labeling tens of millions of Americans criminals for enjoying smoking marijuana and thousands go to prisons for the same.
Marijuana, scientifically known as cannabis sativa has been around the world for centuries. Marijuana comes from the flowering top of the plant cannabis sativa, and it contains a chemical component known as tetrahydrocannabinol abbreviated as THC. The compound in THC is what is responsible for causing mind-altering state among the users of the substance. Historically, the use of cannabis sativa dates back to 6000 B.C. when the Chinese used the seeds of the material in their food. Evidence also indicated that during the time of Napoleon marijuana was used as a sedative to people who were injured in wars. Presently, cannabis sativa is used as a psychoactive substance; it has been used as a mood change inducer as well as an element for relaxing and calming down consciousness. Recently, some policymakers, scientists and observers have termed the substances as a recreational drug from its psychoactive effects the drug manifests.
In light of the failures of prohibition era and the recreational effects of marijuana, both states and local authorities in the country continue to debate whether the drug should be legalized. Since 12 in the US, the District of Columbia plus four states have fully legalized the sale and use of recreational marijuana. By 2016, observers had predicted that other five states would follow suit in legalizing marijuana. In 2004, Alaska, District of Columbia and Oregon authorities considered whether to authorize the use and sale of marijuana for purposes of recreation. 54 percent of voters in Alaska were in favor of cannabis sativa legalization against 46 percent. The approval in Alaska was 53 percent of the total voters. An important point to note about Alaska is that it legalized the use of recreational marijuana in the 1970s and criminalized the same in 1990 (Aydelotte et al. 1327) and (Zhang et al. 465) On the other hand, Florida voters rejected the use of marijuana in the state. Many cities and districts in Colorado, which legalized the use of recreational marijuana in 2012 have banned the sale and use of the substance. Some states in the country have contemplated the legalization of recreational marijuana as some observe the economic benefits of doing the same. Other are opposed to legalization citing the moral principles that American is founded on. This essay analyses two primary debates that we face as a nation, whether or not to legalize the use of marijuana.
My View on Legalizing Marijuana
From my point of understanding debate for or against marijuana use and sale has three sides, ethical, criminal and health approaches; for this section, the section of the paper, the focus will be on the three subjects. Most arguments on the use of marijuana boarders the escapism and pleasure brought about by the substance. Moral questions are bound to arise whether it is wrong or right to be high. Honest answer to this the marijuana use question is not easy compared to pointing out the wrongness in crimes like murder or rape. From my perspective, adequate assessment of the morality of the use and possession of marijuana should begin with a look at the effect the substance has on its consumers. There are two outcomes involved in the use of marijuana, psychological and physical ones. For example, the intoxicating chemical compound, THC, in marijuana is capable of stimulating the brain of the users. The effect is a reward system that causes euphoria, i.e., being high. Just like other intoxicating drugs, the compound releases dopamine (Kerr et al. 433). Even though the chemical may make the uses hallucinate, laugh, increase their appetite and have a modified perception, the adverse outcomes of the use include anxiety, panic or fear. Also important to note is that when the effect of marijuana wears off, the users always feel depressed and sleepy. In similar research findings, it is indicated that any cannabis sativa intoxication results in the users' short-term memory impairment the same as their ability to make sound judgment and to shift attention. The drug is also blamed for poor coordination and reaction making driving under the influence of the same dangerous. For the chronic users of cannabis sativa, some long-term effects include learning and memory impairment, respiratory problems, addiction and adverse effects similar to ones associated with a smoking cigarette. Even though there is no conclusive research discussing the relationship between marijuana use and some mental conditions, smoking pot is associated with long-term anxiety and depression that affects even those who stopped smoking the substance.
After the assessment of what smoking marijuana does to the users, a pertinent question then arises; Is smoking pot ethical? Moral philosophers are concerned with the issue of smoking pot to establish its objectivity. The object, in this case, should not involve the effects coming from choices that the users accept. It is first necessary to point out that those people who use recreational marijuana do so with the intention of getting high and induce the euphoria mentioned earlier. On the contrary, they do not use marijuana to feel depressed, anxious or lose their memories. The adverse effect of smoking pot may occur to the users, and they accept them as unintended outcomes, which they do not precisely choose. In this case, therefore, the noble objective of smoking weed is getting high, a state defined as a pleasurable consciousness that entails alteration of the users' perception and his or her faculty of cognition. My moral stand whether to legalize marijuana or not, therefore, comes from the argument that it is not right to impair human cognition. Human perception is a precondition that informs the choices we make, i.e., whether good or bad. Any substance that pair human cognition means that they impair our ability to make decisions.
Arguments against Recreational Marijuana
Arguments against the use of marijuana mainly point out three areas, social and health issues, and the substance is viewed as a gateway drug. Scientific backings indicate that the effects of marijuana manifest in attention, memory and learning lapses after the drug wears off and it can last for weeks depending on the users' history with the drug. For people who smoke marijuana daily, their intellectual functioning may be at reduced levels. Research carried out among various students indicate that those who smoke pot daily tend to underperform compared to their counterparts who do not (Kerr et al. 1997). As a social concern, those opposed to the legalization of marijuana cite its long-term social effects. Smoking pot affects users' perception and judgment, and the drug is also associated with low achievement. If legalized, recreational marijuana will cause memory and learning problems, which will manifest in the results of those in high school and colleges. Socially, smoking cannabis sativa will increase the incidences of delinquent behaviors, aggression, poor relationships and rebellion for children as young as 12 years. The effects of marijuana use in the workplace are also evident, and it depends on a particular work being performed. A smoker in a highly technical sector will most likely lose concentration if they engage on marijuana (Barcott 6).
Secondly, the people opposed to using marijuana city its effects on the physical wellbeing of the smokers. Legalizing marijuana smoking may increase chances of breathing problems. Smoke from the substance irritates the users' lungs, and the individuals are smoking marijuana can have breathing problems just like their cigarette smoking counterparts. Documented evidence also shows that pot smoking affects the rate at which human heart functions. Marijuana smoking increases heart rate up to three hours after smoking the substance. Also important to highlight is that cannabis sativa smoking may affect child development, during or after pregnancy for women who use marijuana. On health, constant use of marijuana may lead the users into addiction. What may start as begin as a recreational activity may become a habit that would be hard to quote. With the earlier mentioned side effects, the adverse impact may manifest on the wellbeing of the user. Some people who have developed high depends on the drug report poor health conditions that call for immediate attention. Therefore, legalizing the drug would lead to dependence, which in effect will have a severe health effect on the users.
The third argument against the legalization of marijuana use is that it is a gateway drug. According to these groups of people, marijuana use would most probably lead the users into consuming other illicit substances and develop addiction in the process. The gateway theorist, as supported by the National Institute of Drug Abuse points out that, addiction with hard drugs starts from soft ones. Existing data indicate that most heroin, cocaine and heavy drinkers had at one point smoked pot and did not view the substance as addictive. Research carried out with rodents indicated that early exposure of the animals to cannabinoids would decrease the animals' brain dopamine reward center once they enter adulthood, confirming the theory that recreational marijuana would lead to other drugs. The finding supports the argument that pot is a gateway drug. However, other studies point out that the majority of marijuana users do not engage into other substances later on in life.
Replies on the Two Arguments
History of the country is dotted with failures on social experiments that tried to illegalize the use of drugs. America prohibited consumption of alcohol, and the adverse effects were evident in the creation of gangs that illegally run the supply of alcohol in the country. Some observers have pointed out that the illegalization of weed smoking as a recreational drug opens a window for people with evil intention to engage in the underground supply of the substance in the country. Going by statistics, marijuana smoking is the most popular and abused illicit substance in the state. It is popular among children as young as 16 years and adults as old as 80 years. Some observers have tried to put pressure on state and federal authorities to legalize recreational use of marijuana, but moralists' philosopher is also concerned. There is a sharp divided between the opponents and proponents of legalization of recreational marijuana. Opponents cite scientific backings while those in favor have their reasons. On the morality of the use of marijuana, arguing against marijuana use as a right or wrong question is difficult in modern America where some people do not buy the idea of absolute wrong or right. Pot smoking should remain as a controlled substance according to my response.
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