Wednesday, October 10, 2007

2005 - Which Causes More Harm: Marijuana or Marijuana Laws?

“Response to the American Academy of Pediatrics Report on Legalization of Marijuana”
by Curren Warf

I found this article on PubMed. It was published in Pediatrics in November of 2005 in response to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stance against the legalization of marijuana. When assessing whether marijuana should be legalized or not, one needs to determine which is more harmful: marijuana or marijuana laws?

The author of this article, Curren Warf, argues that advocates against legalization are essentially advocating the “establishment of criminal records and imprisonment of young people and adults for a common exploratory behavior.” According to advocates against the legalization of marijuana, those found in possession of marijuana should have a one year prison sentence and lose voting rights. However, in my opinion, marijuana use is so widespread that any enforcement of the law is unavoidably capricious and unjust. What we do to people for using marijuana may be far worse than any biomedical consequences of the drug.

The United States has approximately 25% of the world’s incarcerated population, which is well over 2 million people. About 80% of the incarcerated population were arrested for a drug-related offense. The young people with records are then stigmatized for employment and professional education. When young people are incarcerated, they are taken out of their normal social environments into one that is much more dangerous. This is all a result of irrational drug laws. What we do to marijuana users is much more harmful than the physical or psychological effects of marijuana. Classifying marijuana as a schedule I narcotic is equating marijuana level of dangerousness to heroin.

Marijuana is even considered to be less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. When America experimented with Prohibition, there was an increase in alcoholism and the monopolization of the alcohol market by organized crime and the explosion of violence regarding its markets and sale. Prohibition was more socially destructive than alcoholism. As a result of drugs being illegal is that organizations are involved in the transportation and sale of these drugs operate outside the law.

If there is a successful policy of having the marijuana plant illegal, there would be some chief consequences. Tens of millions of Americans use marijuana and it is a major crash crop. There is a reason why criminalization of marijuana has been such a failure. Nobody advocates for adolescents to use marijuana, alcohol, or tobacco, but millions of adolescents use it. It must be accepted that it is merely a part of the exploratory and experimental behaviors in which many adolescents engage. The illegal status of marijuana means that many young people come into contact with people who sell other, more dangerous drugs, and by purchasing marijuana may expose themselves to becoming more involved in more serious drug use. In conclusion, marijuana laws are more harmful than the drug itself.


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