Society’s Negative View of Cannabis Has Been Proven Wrong
Most people who oppose legalizing cannabis, commonly called marijuana, stereotype the substance’s supporters as being liberal, uniformed, young people looking for a good time. While I may be young (20 years old), I am far from being liberal, and far from being uninformed. In fact, I consider myself a strict conservative. I believe in the ideals of limited government and promoting citizens to be independent contributors to our nation’s economy and our nation’s general welfare. Individuals know how to run their lives better than the federal government. The government should only interfere if people’s rights, as defined by our Constitution, are being restricted or violated. I feel legalizing marijuana for private recreational use does not violate anyone’s rights.
It is not the government’s job to enforce morality. Morality is subjective, so what gives the Federal Government the authority to decide what is morally right or morally wrong? If you do not share this viewpoint look at previous politicians. Former President Bill Clinton had several affairs while serving in the Oval Office, and lied under oath. Mark Foley had inappropriate relationships with young boys serving as pages for the Congressman. Many politicians are stereotyped as lying conmen who would do anything for a vote. Are these the type of people you want to define right and wrong? Another reason society should not give moral authority to the Federal Government is that it violates the First Amendment. Freedom of religion gives individuals the right to choose what religion best fits their beliefs or moral values. Each religion has values that conflict with other religions’ values. By defining right and wrong, the Federal Government would be enforcing its own religious views on Americans, thus violating our First Amendment rights. Government has no place in religion and religion should not impact public policy.
If religion should not impact public policy, then one logical reason for banning a substance would be to limit healthcare costs. This is a very valid argument and is the main reason many harmful drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, and methamphetamines should stay illegal. I agree that people who do not abuse drugs, should not be forced to pay high healthcare expenses to support someone who is addicted to crack. This again goes back to the fundamental conservative belief of limited government. Someone’s drug problem should never be made society’s problem.
That being said, contrary to the harder controlled substances, marijuana causes very few medical hazards to its users. In fact, there is no hard evidence proving marijuana does any long-term, irreversible damage to human health. Scientists haven’t proven the substance has any long-term effect on mental functioning or create any long-term damage to the brain or nerve cells. There is also evidence that long-term use has almost no effect on human cognitive functioning. Unlike most other controlled substances, marijuana has not been proven to be physically or mentally harmful. If you checked the medical records of people in healthcare, you would be hard-pressed to find one person there for the use of marijuana. Contrary to marijuana abuse, you would find plenty of people in healthcare abusing legal more harmful substances, like cigarettes or alcohol. Marijuana does nothing to healthcare costs, so it has no financial effect on individuals who abstain from using it.
Another argument made by people who oppose legalization is that marijuana increases violence and aggression. That would obviously be a concern because if someone were violent they would often be violating the rights of other people. While limiting violent behavior is a valid concern, there is absolutely no scientific evidence linking marijuana to violence. In fact, when cannabis was administered to individuals in hospitals, mood rating scales consistently showed a decrease in hostile feelings and an increase in feelings of happiness and friendship. Obviously, scientific evidence contradicts the belief that marijuana increases violence.
Maybe the most common concern shared among people against the legalization of marijuana is the fear of marijuana being a “gateway drug”. While there have been reports showing that most people who do harder more harmful drugs often start with marijuana, these studies do not show a direct link. For example, I drank orange juice long before I ever drank alcohol. That doesn’t mean drinking orange juice caused me to drink alcohol. One would believe that if marijuana really were a gateway drug people would develop a tolerance to it, get bored with its effects, and move on to harder drugs. This is not the case. Studies show that people who initially smoked marijuana before using harder drugs rarely gave up smoking marijuana. There is absolutely no causal relationship proving marijuana is a gateway drug.
In 2007 US officials decided to put a ban on companies selling marijuana-related paraphernalia online. A massive argument took place among various cannabis communities stating that it was an unfair move made by our government. There are many hard-to-find accessories such as grade 2 titanium dabbers and carb cabs which can be purchased from the online headshop Sky High Smoke Shop, but thankfully, in 2014 these laws were removed giving these online retailers the full ability to sell marijuana-related smoking accessories to the general public.
There is no argument for keeping marijuana illegal that does not contradict modern science. While there remains a negative stigma among many people, others are taking a more open-minded approach and really looking at the evidence. Substances like alcohol and cigarettes have proven far more harmful and far more addictive the marijuana. Some people will argue that marijuana should stay illegal because the government has to draw the line somewhere. I agree; if a drug causes physical damage, thus increasing health care costs, if a drug increases feelings of anger and hostility, creating violence against other individuals, and the drug is a “gateway” drug leading to harder substances, it should be illegal. Marijuana does not fit any of those arguments. The line for legalizing substances should be drawn somewhere else. Restricting marijuana is the government’s way of enforcing morality.