The U.S. locks up more prisoners than any other nation, according to the International Center for Prison Studies. There were more than 847,000 marijuana-related arrests in the U.S. in 2008, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports.
A tremendous amount of tax dollars are spent on law enforcement and incarceration for marijuana-related crimes every year, and some see the legalization of medical marijuana as a step in the right direction. Fourteen states have already legalized its medicinal use.
However, there is no guarantee pot will ever be completely legalized, and the medical advocates are on the wrong track, as marijuana has little or no merit as medicine.
Medical legalization doesn’t help the recreational pot users. The problems associated with violent marijuana trafficking will not go away unless pot is completely legalized, much like the 21st Amendment brought the end of major mafia bootlegging of alcohol.
Prescription medication is not legally designed for recreational use. It will be subject to the same abuse as other prescription drugs, and possession could still lead to jail time.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the main chemical in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), acts upon cannabinoid receptors in the brain, starting a series of cellular reactions that lead to the “high” experience.
Euphoric “highs” might make suffering patients feel better, but so would an alcoholic beverage or a puff of salvia divinorum – another hallucinogen legal in several states. Ironically, all of these are understood to be toxic to one’s health, yet alcohol and salvia can already be used.
A culture that views marijuana through a medicinally beneficial lens can cause problems.
If being high is considered beneficial, then medical marijuana’s uses may be expanded to helping users cope with depression, anxiety, anger or countless other psychological ailments.
A line needs to be drawn.
There are prescription medications and other options involving medical professionals designed to treat these problems. Smoking weed should not be an alternative.
Smoking to deal with emotional problems, like those associated with serious illnesses for which marijuana is prescribed, only offers a fleeting relief from pain.
If pot is allowed, then why not legalize cocaine, methamphetamines or heroin for medical purposes? They too offer patients an unhealthy way to escape suffering temporarily without possessing any great intrinsic medical benefits.
Those who favor the legalization of medical marijuana fall into two camps: those who think it should only be used as medicine with a prescription and those who hope it will lead to the legalization of recreational marijuana.
However, making pot a prescription drug is a step in the wrong direction. It will only serve to cement the illegal status of recreational marijuana use.
Justin Rivera is a senior majoring in history.