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The Pros And Cons About Legalizing Marijuana

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Legal Issues

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Mainstream vs. Alternative Media; who do we believe?
The Journal of Media Studies Writer Discussion of the legalization of
marijuana brings up two main issues, those who are pro- marijuana and
those who are anti- marijuana. These issues have been covered by both
mainstream and alternative media, mainstream being pro, and alternative
being anti. These two factions have been arguing over this issue in the
halls of justice for many years. Because most of the American society is
mainly exposed to only mainstream media, they are not aware of other
factors of legalizing marijuana that alternative media covers. The problem
caused by this lack of exposure, is that the public may be deprived of the
truth, and may be led to believe facts that are not true.

Marijuana and Medicine

Both pro and anti-marijuana groups have discussed whether or not
marijuana can be used for medicinal purposes. Mainstream groups do not
believe that there are any convincing reasons to make marijuana a
treatment to sick patients. Their position is that marijuana can have
harmful long-term effects. The Anti-Legalization Forum explains that some
of these effects are: impairment of the immune system due to the inability
of T-cells to battle off diseases, delaying puberty in both males and
females, and unhealthy and smaller children born to women who used
marijuana during pregnancy. The

Drug Enforcement

Administration believes that since marijuana is not accepted by any
American health associations, there is no reason to legalize the drug.
They think that the main reason why pro marijuana advocates use the medical
use argument is because the uninformed public can be easily convinced to
support the movement. Simply not enough evidence proves that marijuana can
be used medically (Claim V). Unlike the D.E.A., lobbying groups such as the
Cannabis Action Network and the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, believe
that marijuana is a beneficial herb, and not a harmful drug (ICLU).

Alternative media sources, such as "Marijuana As Medicine," state that
marijuana can be used as medicine for: nausea, appetite stimulation,
relief from vomiting, reduction in spasticity, glaucoma, epilepsy, anxiety,
depression, asthma, multiple sclerosis, stimulation of the immune system,
Aids patient and cancer patients. For victims with AIDS, cancer and
multiple sclerosis, smoking marijuana is believed to help reduce emesis,
suppress vomiting, and stimulate the appetite. People with multiple
sclerosis are convinced that smoking marijuana also reduces the intensity
of their spasms. "Marijuana As Medicine," a Cannabis Action Network
pamphlet, states that, "Two highly qualified and experienced
ophthalmologists have accepted marijuana as having a medical use in
treatment of glaucoma." When taken, parts of cannabis lower intraocular
pressure in the eye. There are rumors that marijuana suppresses the immune
system. "Marijuana Myths" dismisses this belief because the myth was based
on studies where the experimental animals were given near-lethal-doses of
cannabinoids, and these results have never been repeated on humans. In
fact, two studies displayed that the immune system may actually have been
stimulated by the use of hashish and marijuana. On the other hand, a
separate alternative source stated that marijuana (Delta-nine-THC) does
possess an immunosuppressive effect. Marijuana shuts off some cells in the
liver, instead of stimulating them. The effect is only temporary and goes
away rapidly. According to "Marijuana As Medicine," Approximately 30% of
all prescription drugs can be replaced by THC, so pro- marijuana groups
lead to believe that one of the reasons why the drug is not legalized is
because it would take the profit away from currently used drugs. These
groups suppose that since no one has ever died from marijuana use, it must
be safe. We can already see the different myths that people read and get
confused about. The one thing that pro-marijuana groups agree upon is
that "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically
active substances known to man" (Marijuana As Medicine).

Marijuana and Crime

Another issue considered by the mass media is whether marijuana has an
effect on crime or not. As written in the "Anti-Legalization Forum," the
D.E.A. believes that drug use contributes to crime and violence. Many
police officers say that criminal activity is not caused by dealers, but by
those that are under the influence of the drug. A study showed that among
males (18-49 years old) those who used cannabis were ten times more likely
to commit violent acts than non-users. Anti marijuana groups look to the
example of gangs, after the repeal of Prohibition, gangster activity had
not decreased. Experts are positive that legalizing marijuana would only
add to the burden of criminal, health and social services. "There is no
denying the fact that drug use changes behavior and exacerbates criminal
activity" (Claim I). "Hemp for Food" claims that marijuana supporters
believe that the only criminal activity caused by marijuana is done because
of the illegal status of the drug, and not because of any influence that
the drug may have on users. They think that legalization would eliminate
black market activity. In Holland, marijuana is legal and so far, the Dutch
crime rate has declined and not increased as one would anticipate (87).
Supporters of the legalization of marijuana say that the United States
government can profit from legalizing marijuana because they can tax the
drug. A study done by Vera Rubin, of the Coptic study, found no links of
cannabis to criminal behavior. She said that smokers and non-smokers had
identical extroversion scores and work records. There was no proof found
that marijuana impairs motor skills, so she believes that large doses of
marijuana cut short one's motivation to work (86).

Marijuana and Behavior

Behavior is altered by using marijuana. The Medical Post states that
"marijuana has always been depicted as producing a lethargic, mellow,
laid-back effect rather than acting as a stimulant." A study was done on
young, male marijuana users to show any signs of stimulation. These
participants engaged in antisocial behavior. The doctors concluded that
these drugs could possibly disturb social interactions. Anti- marijuana
groups feel that legalizing drugs encouraged non-users that drugs are
acceptable (Anti-Legalization Forum Claim III). "Hemp for Food," an
alternative source printed that subjects in ...

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