The 5 Biggest Pros and 5 Biggest Cons
Should marijuana be legal? That’s a question discussed even during the current U.S. Presidential campaign.
In some states and countries marijuana, or Cannabis sativa, is now legal or at least decriminalized for medical use. This November, voters in Colorado, Washington and Oregon will consider making marijuana legal in their states, too.
We’d like to know: what do you think about the issue? Why should marijuana be legal? Or why not? Post your comments at the end of the article and please SHARE this with others by clicking above….
Below are the five biggest pros and five biggest cons we’ve heard regarding marijuana legality…
Marijuana Legalization – Pros
#5 Safer recreational drug
Proponents of marijuana legalization frequently point out that alcohol and tobacco products are far more dangerous than marijuana – yet these more dangerous drugs are legal for recreational use (though usually regulated) in all 50 states and most countries around the world.
For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attribute over 80,000 deaths to alcohol every year in the United States. Yet they don’t even have a category for marijuana attributable deaths – and no one has ever heard of someone dying from acute marijuana poisoning.
#4 Increased tax revenue
By legalizing, regulating and taxing sales of marijuana similar to alcohol and tobacco, proponents suggest cash-strapped governments can raise significant new revenue through excise taxes.
Based on an estimated average cost of $5 per illegal marijuana cigarette, Dr. Stephen Easton, Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute, estimates anywhere from $40 to $100 Billion dollars in new tax revenue could be generated each year by legalizing marijuana and selling it at the same price through legal channels.
#3 Less crime
Don’t laugh… experts aren’t talking about the “mellowing” effect of smoking a joint, though some evidence suggests those who use marijuana are much less likely to become violent than those who drink alcohol.
Instead, proponents are talking about less crime for two other reasons: the elimination of “victimless crimes” and countering the violent side effects of an underground illegal drug trade.
According to FBI crime statistics from 2010, marijuana possession alone accounted for over 750,000 arrests in 2010. That’s more than the number of arrests for of all violent crimes combined. The associated legal and incarceration costs to the public are estimated at $10 billion dollars. Not to mention the lifelong effect on marijuana users branded as a criminal for using a drug deemed safer than alcohol.
Proponents say decriminalizing marijuana would end this injustice for marijuana users and free up scarce law enforcement resources to focus on more violent crime. And eliminate some violent crime just by legalizing the substance.
Making marijuana legal would effectively end the illegal trade in the drug similar to how most bootleggers were put out of the moonshine business with the end of Prohibition. And, advocates say, less violent crime from drug dealers fighting over turf and profits from America’s third most commonly used recreational drug (behind alcohol and tobacco).
#2 Personal liberty
“It’s a free country, man…”
Well, it isn’t for pot smokers, complain advocates.
Why should government be involved at all in regulating, much less banning, the growing and use of a natural plant? Proponents of marijuana legalization point to the clearly unsuccessful “war on drugs” campaign as just one more example of the failed policies of big nanny-state government.
#1 Medical marijuana use
Even many opponents of marijuana legalization admit there are potential medical benefits from the plant.
One of the first widely accepted and FDA-approved medical uses of marijuana is the use of THC, one of the plant’s unique active compounds, in the drug Marinol (dronabinol). This drug is approved for use by cancer patients to control nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy treatments and the loss of appetite in AIDS patients.
However, THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is only one of the dozens of known unique compounds in marijuana plants that advocates insist bears further study – and easier access for patients. According to the Institute of Medicine, marijuana appears to have therapeutic value in treating:
- Appetite loss
- Nerve-related pain
- Chemotherapy-related pain
- Multiple sclerosis
Some advocates say the potential health rewards far outweigh the potential risks of legalizing marijuana for medical use. For many users, marijuana is simply another natural health option with far less risk than conventional drugs.
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Marijuana Legalization – Cons
#5 DUI hazard
Marijuana has a sedative effect on some users which may last for hours. Opponents of marijuana ask why should marijuana be legalized when it promotes a potentially serious driving hazard that may be harder to recognize and test for than other impairing drugs like alcohol.
Achieving a DUI conviction for drivers who actually are driving under the influence of marijuana can be more difficult to achieve than a DUI for alcohol as a driver can test positive for marijuana use up to a month after use while a simple breath or blood test can give a quick and accurate blood alcohol reading.
While there are behavior-based roadside sobriety tests designed to indicate impairment from marijuana, these are considered too subjective by some compared to a physiological test.
Opponents suggest keeping marijuana illegal helps eliminate the argument on impairment altogether since physiological tests are not an adequate indicator of current impairment in marijuana users.
#4 Increased risk of persistent psychotic episodes
“That joint just blew my mind…”
Many who are opposed to making marijuana legal aren’t surprised. They point to a 10-year study recently published in the British Medical Journal that followed 1,923 Germans from age 14 to 24. Those who used marijuana showed a significantly higher risk of persistent psychotic symptoms. And the risk continued to grow the longer marijuana was used.
#3 Lowers IQ
The common Hollywood-promoted image of the unintelligent teenage stoner is practically a stereotype. Only it isn’t.
According to a brand new study which followed 1,037 New Zealanders from birth to 38 years of age, those who started using marijuana before age 18 lost an average of eight IQ points. Permanently.
The study’s lead author, Madeline Meier, told FoxNews.com that this is a significant drop. “Take an average person – an IQ of 100 puts them in the 50th percentile of intelligence,” Meier said. “If this person loses eight IQ points, it drops them to the 29th percentile.”
All the more reason to keep marijuana illegal and away from kids say legalization opponents.
#2 Health risks
While marijuana may be considered a relatively harmless drug by many, research suggests about 9% of all users become addicted to marijuana – nearly double that among younger users.
While most marijuana users do not become addicted like cocaine or heroin users, opponents of marijuana legalization point to numerous health risks from long-term use of this “harmless” drug:
- Increased heart rate and risk of heart attack
- Lung infections and respiratory issues (possible lung cancer)
#1 Gateway drug
Hotly contested by marijuana legalization advocates, but perhaps the most commonly used argument from opponents, is the use of marijuana as a “gateway drug” – opening the door to more dangerous drugs like ecstasy, cocaine and heroin.
Some long-term studies show an association between early marijuana use and later use of harder drugs, but the jury is still out on exactly why this association exists.
What do YOU think?
Should marijuana be legal? You’ve heard the top five answers on both sides of the issue. Now we’d like to hear what YOU think.
Do you think marijuana should be completely legal? Completely illegal? Legal only for medical purposes? Regulated or unregulated?
Please SHARE this by clicking above … and tell us your thoughts on marijuana legalization by adding your comment below.
Ferner M. Why Marijuana Should Be Legalized: ‘Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol’ Campaign Discusses Why Pot Prohibition Has Been A Failure. 2012 Aug 28.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol Related Disease Impact (ARDI) application. 2008.
Legalize Marijuana for Tax Revenue. Bloomberg Businessweek. 2010 Mar.
Hoaken PN, Stewart SH. Drugs of abuse and the elicitation of human aggressive behavior. Addictive Behaviors. 2003 Dec;28(9):1533-54.
Federal Bureau of Investigation. Arrests. Crime in the United States 2010. 2011.
Federal Bureau of Investigation. Table 29 – Estimated Number of Arrests. Crime in the United States 2010. 2011.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Marijuana Prosecutions For 2010 Near Record High. 2011 Sep 19.
Medical Marijuana: When It May Help. Bottom Line Health. 2011 Apr 1.
Looby A, Earleywine M, Gieringer D. Roadside sobriety tests and attitudes toward a regulated cannabis market. Harm Reduction Journal. 2007; 4: 4.
Kuepper R, et al. Continued cannabis use and risk of incidence and persistence of psychotic symptoms: 10 year follow-up cohort study. BMJ. 2011 Mar 1;342:d738.
Meier MH, et al. Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2012 Aug 27.
Grush, L. Pot users show drop in IQ from adolescence to adulthood. FoxNews.com. 2012 Aug 28.
DrugFacts: Marijuana. National Institute on Drug Abuse. 2010 Nov.
Degenhardt L, et al. Who are the new amphetamine users? A 10-year prospective study of young Australians. Addiction. 2007 Aug;102(8):1269-79.
Goldberg J. Marijuana Use and Its Effects. WebMD. 2012 Jul 23.
Written By: Updated: September 7,2012
15 thoughts on “Should Marijuana Be Legal?”
marijuana is far safer than alcohol. for those who don’t do well with it they are free to not smoke it. it’s just a plant.
Like most drugs it has its pros and cons. I think the evidence for an increased risk with psychiatric illness is very strong, however alcohol probably does considerably more damage to peoples health and it is still legal. So logically if we think it is OK to have alcohol legal we should probably decide to legalise marijuana as well.
I vividly remember my sister, being confined to a wheelchair suffering from incurable MS, finding relief from the use of marijuana and being prosecuted and humiliated for doing so. Marijuana or cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for over 3000 years, it is safer than alcohol and tobacco and as long it is not made available to children, the world will benefit from legalizing the use of the substance. Big pharma and alcohol outlets will suffer some losses of revenue, but the public will be safer and far better off.
It’s so sad to think that this country finds it is ok for Doctors to over prescribe pain medication and create a nation of addicts, yet someone who might be self medicating with marijuana to reduce social anxiety
is forced to become a guinea pig for their prescribers, having to try one anti anxiety and anti depressent after another, only to suffer inumerable side effects for the sake of legality. Remember the days of prohibition? People who drank alcohol, even responsibly were looked down upon and shunned socially.
There is so much stigma on users of marijuana. Not all social drinkers are alcoholics and not all occasional marijuana smokers are druggies. I have read all the pros and cons and it seems to me that the pros out weigh the cons for the very reason that all of the prescribed drugs that are being offered in the world come with a long list of possible potentially “lethal” side effects. The whole thing needs to be re examined from a different point of view. Just because something is legalized does not mean that everyone is going to use it. Cigarettes are legal, but everyone teaches their children the dangers of smoking at a young age.The dangers of abusing any substance should be the theme of conversation.
It’s way past time for marijuana to be legalized. The arguments listed above against it are all pretty weak arguments, especially the ‘gateway drug’ argument. Most people I know who smoke it, never do any other drugs. Alcohol and tobacco are far more dangerous and harmful to the body, and neither of them have health benefits. Marijuana does have health benefits. Let the police spend more of their time going after the people committing REAL crimes. We’re only about 30 years late making marijuana legal. It’s about time. I personally think the main reason it hasn’t been legalized all this time is because big pharma hasn’t been able to find a way to profit from it. That’s not a good reason to keep it illegal. I’ve also never known anyone to die from over-use of marijuana, but thousands of people have died from using alcohol and/or tobacco. This is a slam dunk.
Hi I see many of the previous comments are based on comparison to other substances. Alcohol started with additional use for food preservative. Hence social and medical acceptance for millenniums. Like most other illicit drugs you use it and keep it to yourself. Cigarettes are illegal in the country Bhutan, near ‘Tibet’, this is due to the cost of treatment. Tobacco is a drug that if you exhale it I may inhale it. This will be the same for marijuana (THC) and I don’t want to accept your output. Your exhalations are not wanted. It is illegal to smoke in indoor public areas in Australia so others dont inhale tobacco users exhaust. Australia stopped Winfield from sponsoring Ferrari Formula 1 as we terminated tobacco advertising in public events. The cost of treatment of cancer is excessive. As a mental health nurse I am also exposed to the worse side of THC with psychotic side effects of THC + many drugs. A question I have is not all cigarette smokers get cancer but how many will use your taxes for on going psychotic treatment from THC. I agree totally with the comment about pharma industries. Why would they support it if they cant make the profit? unless they genetically altered it mmm Sorry but NO.
Addit. I have epilepsy and THC will only be effective on certain areas of the brain. This will be useless for the seizures I have. If a person has a seizure, be generous, monthly when do you have that cone? A person at work also commented that in the last 20 years the strength of a cone has increased > 10 times. That means 1 cone today is equal to 10 in 1990. Bit like the dollar.
All of the above is true. Just like with everything else, even food, there are drawbacks to overusing and abusing and potential harmful side effects. But then there are the benefits. Soooo, just like with anything, shouldn’t the individual have the choice? Shouldn’t we be teaching our children to make wise decisions? I know several people who are benefiting from the medical pain relieving effects. I am so grateful they have been able to have less pain and suffering with out the opiate addiction problems. So again, there is always a tradeoff to any choice we make.
#5 DUI hazard
Millions of people drive under the influence of prescriptions, narcotics and alcohol every day. Why can’t someone drive under the influence of Marijuana, whereas you would know if you smoke, that you actually eliminate stress, aggressive driving and road rage, while high.
#4 Increased risk of persistent psychotic episodes
Ridiculous, if you call increased awareness of your spiritual self, and come close to the Christ Like state of mind God wants you to be in then you would see that the fits of truth and brilliance, or peeking through the veil of this false reality we call life, you would see these episodes as good things.
#3 Lowers IQ
Seriously? I’ll whoop your ass at Jeopardy blunted, 8 days a week.
#2 Health risks
9% oho big deal? Hello don’t let kids smoke, until they are 18 or 21. DUH? Is there anyone with a heart, brain and soul who conducts these studies, sanely or fairly? hum… NO! Compare the risks of Cannabis, to anything else already legal.
#1 Gateway drug
This is the biggest lie and myth of them all, perpetuated and funded as a reality by the greedy companies, and lobbying groups who keep Cannabis illegal in the first place.
So please show me 5 real “con’s” and not more B.S. and you might have a real argument.
What do YOU think?
I think the term Marijuana, is SICK …
It’s a made up word, the plants real name is Cannabis Sativa, and it’s used prevalently throughout the bible, including the first page. Jesus was buried in a hemp robe, and mankind saw by the hemp seed oil lamp longer than any other period of (non sunlight) illumined history. White people would not be in America without this plant, and our Nation came to prosperity because of it’s use. We all suffer at the hands of the cancerous murderous industries that eliminated hemp and cannabis use in the 20s & 30s and we have all suffered as humans because of it. Read the emperor, wears no clothes, the bible, and the great book of hemp, and do research on the founding of America and the use of hemp and Cannabis by all people of earth for eons, before you judge anyone for doing exactly what GOD wants us to do…
Yes, marijuana should be legal if for no other reason, than it being our within our rights to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, as per our country’s founding Declaration of Independence. What those that oppose the idea fail to understand is that making MJ legal would not increase it’s use. Most would relegate it to recreational use, as they already do now, with very little change in their current routine. Those that maintain heavy use, would only continue doing what they are already doing, and then there are the many who might move away from alcohol towards pot, which would be much better in every aspect, from their health, IQ, burden and/or threat to society, etc. Of course, all of the five points in favor, already listed in the article would be part of the picture as well. Essentially, it just needs to be regulated like hard liquor, which would largely solve the more legitimate concerns.
Alcohol and cigarettes pose a greater health risk pot is just a plant that anybody can grow in their yard. Maybe that’s the problem for regulating it. You might consider beer a gateway drug too also inducing psychological disorders and lowering IQ due to alcoholism. They need people in prison to keep the private penitentiary owners happy and taking taxpayers money. It has nothing to do with health and safety.
Should have been legalized 30 years ago ! Good Grief Charlie Brown.
Often in gray areas of discussions of ‘freedoms’, there must be a line drawn in the sand, as to whether or not we are simply abusing our freedoms, and what they were intended for, taking liberties with our liberty. We can’t stop people from abusing themselves, but when it effects others (including the burden of the tax-payer to cover undue health issues) because of their habits, than this is going against what freedom is for. To summarize, we live in a drug-culture, and the impact of such, is eroding our freedoms operate within the benefit as well as protection of society as we know it. The negative impact far out-weighs the positive which the latter can be controlled.
Therefore, I am against the legalization of marijuana.
I have been clinically depressed for years now so bad I wouldnt even eat. I was on and off anti-depression medication; Suicidal thoughts, etc. I hate the side effects of the anti-depressants and therefor had to stop. The use of marajuana has helped improve my mood, helped encourage myself to eat regularly and really keeps my days brighter. I can also say it has helped greatly with my social anxiety, I can make friends, and talk without fear.
I know recently I haven’t had access to it and have been drinking ALOT. Escaping with alcohol tends to lead to destructive decisions. I get emotional and I do STUPID things like drive when someone pisses me off.
Personally, the benefits have kept me sane enough to continue in my daily life. I would defiently encourage aleast increasing the “Medicinal coverage” for Marijuanna.
Of course it should be legal. Especially for medical reasons Cannabis was THE drug of choice 100 years ago, doctors prescribed it for everything and it worked. Then the drug companies came along and demonized it so they could sell (and make fortunes) pushing their drugs which have much worse side effects.
The UK has a cannabis spray which I think would have made it possible for me to control the intense pain I suffer from spasticity (I have MS). Cannabis really helped me but I am not a smoker so had to make & eat cookies. This required a huge amount of cannabis which was difficult to source (the organic is best as they tweak the other & it is filled with chemicals) and worked out too expensive. It also took a lot of time and effort to to cook, process and then bake .
Here you are alllowed to grow 2 plants for medical needs. But they are very difficult to grow (I am a gardening enthusiast and the weather is perfect and only managed to successfully grow one female plant) and take months to reach maturity.
I was going to EXIT in Switzerland because the continual pain was too much when doctors at the pain clinic suggested a pain pump. I am very lucky because the lowest dose of baclofen (an anti spasticity drug) completely controls the pain & helps the spasticiy a lot. If I increase the dose even a little it makes me sick. IT MAKES ME VERY ROCKY WHEN I STAND & I AM NOW ADDICTED TO BACLOFEN. In USA a pump costs $36,000 to implant + costs of 3 hr operation + regular refills + doctors charges. After 6 years it all has to be repeated. For life. Drug Company heaven is to keep you alive but sick.
I never had any side effects or psychotic episodes to Cannabis. When the spray gets here I will be taking it and reducing the drug until I no longer need it.
My neighbour has a middle aged son with some depression problems. She always maintained that he was happiest and easiest to live with when he smoked pot. When he drank he became abusive and she had to take out an AVO to stop him attacking her.