Table of Contents
Marijuana is known by its scientific name cannabis sativa, which is a herb that originated and was discovered in Mexico and in some regions in the southwest of the United States of America. Its name comes from the compounds that marijuana contains, which are called cannabinoids. These chemicals bind with cannabinoid receptors in the human brain. The active form in the drug is THC (9-tetrahydrocannibinol). This THC can produce the same effects on the human brain that alcohol does, and it can also be used for medical purposes. Marijuana has been given a lot of slang names in the USA and across the globe such as “weed” and “pot”
The ancestors of cannabis originated in the Middle East, possibly in areas with more gentle slopes especially on Himalayan hills or the Atlai Mountains of the North. The exact place of origin of cannabis has not been clearly indicated. The marijuana plant tends to grow in thick stands by dropping seed about the spread of their branches (Kathleaa, 2009).
The earliest mention of Marijuana stems from the oldest known culture Yang-Shao in China. At the time, the clothes people wore, the ropes they used, and the nets they fished with were made from a fiber that was long, durable and strong. This fiber separates itself from the marijuana stem when its stem decays. This type of cannabis was called hemp. Firstly, hemp clothes were only worn by the most prosperous people, while ordinary people wore animal skins. However, later on, everybody could use hemp to sew their clothes.
Apart from sewing clothes, the Chinese used marijuana seeds along with millet, soybeans, and rice. The seeds were primed into a meal, cooked in porridge or roasted whole. Some ancient tombs in China had sacrificial vessels replete with different grains and hemp seeds for the afterlife.
The use of marijuana progressed further when people started to use its leaves for medical purposes. The Pên-ts’ao Ching, which is the oldest pharmacopeia known, prescribed marijuana for treating various diseases such as malaria, rheumatic pain, female disorders and many others. Another study shows that the root of marijuana can also be used for medical purposes to relieve pain caused by broken bones or surgeries.
As the Chinese advanced in their technology, they took cannabis seeds, milled and heated them. Thus, they could get valuable oil that would be used to fuel lamps, cook, as a machine lubricant, and sometimes it would be used as a paint or as a component in soap making. The residue that was left after extracting oil still had proteins and would be used to feed domestic animal.
Ancient Chinese used nearly every piece of the marijuana plant in the following ways: The root was used as medication; the stem was used to produce textiles, paper and robes; the seeds were mainly used to make oil; and the leaves parts for intoxication or for medical purposes. The marijuana culture was brought to India by the Aryans. Due to the fact that they worshipped the spirits of animals and plants, they used marijuana for their ritual purposes. The Indians introduced marijuana to Arabia. With the rising power of Islam, usage of marijuana increased and it was popularly known as “hashish”
Marijuana became criminalized in 1937 and the reasons for this are vague. Some say it was threatening multi-million businesses, for example, those in the paper making industry, as hemp could be used to produce quality paper that threatened the existence of those companies. Hence, there was a campaign against it that it caused violence.
When alcohol was outlawed in the US, marijuana became the only available legal recreational drug and this was the beginning of its rapid popularity within and outside the United States. In New Orleans, marijuana was linked to the culture of partying and jazz and this caught attention of politicians who blamed the chaos of the city on marijuana. Consequently, marijuanna was banned unless it was used for medical purposes.
During the depression, the surplus of cheap labor of the Mexicans had a negative impact on the US, hence strict marijuana rules were put in place in South Western states and the possession of one joint could lead to life imprisonment or even deportation.
Research done by the U.S. federal government through the department of Narcotics Bureau described marijuana as a powerful, addictive substance that will cause users to develop drug addiction and this also was one of the reasons why marijuana was illegalized.
Marijuana became classified along with Heroine as drugs that had the highest abuse. No accepted medical use and zero tolerance of the Reagan and Bush administrations led to the enactment of laws and clauses that prohibited people from the possession of drug substances such as marijuana.
Marijuana has various purposes both personal and medical and is used worldwide. The use of marijuana in medicine has been known since February, 1997 when the National Institute of Health (NIH) released a report on major uses of marijuana for medical purposes.
For example, marijuana could be used to alleviate cachexia and stimulate appetite. The active THC of marijuana most likely acting via the cannabinoids receptor in the brain stimulates appetite. Reports have shown that marijuana users enjoy food more after intake and they also eat more. This is useful for patients infected with HIV who are at great risk of being infected with opportunistic infections and diminished caloric intake. These risk factors lead to weight loss, a decrease in appetite, and cachexia. Reports also show that intake of cannabis is not at all unsafe for HIV patients.
Control of nausea and vomiting in most cases is associated with or linked to cancer chemotherapy. Marijuana has shown tremendous results when it came to reducing nausea in cancer patients. There are a lot of cases of patients whom marijuana has helped to reduce cancer pain and nausea that are caused by chemotherapy. According to a recent article by Dr. George, who is a specialist in the field of cancer with 29 years of medical experience and whose wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, after taking marijuana for almost a year, his wife kept on losing weight because she could not avoid the synthetic THC, which is called marinol and which was too distressing for her. He purchased some natural marijuana and after consuming some lumps, her nausea was gone, which he felt was not normal.
Marijuana has proved to inhibit growth of tumors. It works by raising the potential of some fat molecules which are known as ceramides. Additional ceramides in turn trigger cells that would be normally produced during vascular endothelial growth and facilitate the growth in the blood vessel hence resulting in a slow growth of brain tumors (Alicia, 2008 ).
Some studies have shown that cannabis has analgesic properties. Several experiments that were carried out using mice and rats have concluded that delta-9-THC is more powerful in controlling pain as compared to morphine. Studies using cancer patients have also yielded results that marijuana has analgesic properties and can relieve cancer patients of their pain.
Neurological and Movement Disorders
Reports show that marijuana has antispasmodic and anti-tremor activity. In a clinical setting, these properties may help patients who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, Huntington's chorea, Multiple sclerosis, seizures, and spinal cord injuries.
Some individuals use marijuana for personal purposes as a recreational drug. Some smoke marijuana to kill depression. For some people, marijuana is associated with the feeling of pacifism; it reduces stress and enhances creativity.
Marijuana has a lot of effects on an individual who uses the drug; it has both physical and mental effects. Studies have shown that marijuana has adverse mental effects as opposed to how many people perceive it as being a harmless substance. The effect on the human brain depends on the frequency of use, the amount used, and the quality of marijuana. Some short-term effects on mental health include impaired memory, difficulties with thinking, problem solving, and perfuming, distorted perception, anxiety disorders or feelings of paranoia, and impaired judgment.
Individuals with chronic effects can experience euphoria with pleasant sensations; they may also feel relaxed, happy, calm or talkative. Due to this feeling of euphoria, the most affected individuals often get drowsy, depressed or anxious. Rarely do individuals experience extreme cases of hallucinogenic effects like paranoid thoughts and delusions.
Marijuana also has some long-term effects on the user’s mental health. Studies show that
prolonged use of marijuana can cause depression. The use of marijuana during adolescence can lead to psychotic disorders in adulthood. Individuals who use marijuana regularly also have a high chance of developing suicidal thoughts. Also, the use of marijuana can increase the risk of developing uncontrolled aggressiveness. Prolonged use of marijuana may badly disrupt the nervous system, especially, brain cells responsible for memory.
There is a substantive increment of uncertainties tied up with schizophrenia in adulthood for teenagers who regularly use marijuana, which is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder. The marijuana physical effect is altered or increased while mixing marijuana with other drug and alcohol combinations. Some individuals who often use marijuana may experience some physical impacts of the drug, which may last up to 8 hours. The impact of this drug is less than 8 hours but with varying intensity of the drug take.
The more one inhales the fumes or smokes of the weed, the more prolonged effect marijuana has. When a person inhales marijuana, they may experience coughing, an increase in heartbeat and body temperature, runny nose, shortness of breath, and some may even vomit.
Apart from the effects mentioned above, there are some other physical impacts of marijuana. They include redness of eyes, cottonmouth, excessive appetite, temporary impairment of motor functions (delayed reaction time), and heightened sensitivity (taste, touch, sound, smell, sight).
An individual’s sight may be impaired thus leading to receiving misleading information, for instance, the individual may see pictures that are freeze framed like those in a flip book. This may lead to tunnel vision (eyes fixed on single objects).
Once an individual inhales the fumes or smokes, the fumes pass through the alveolar and finally into the bloodstream. The body of the user instantly reacts to the THC. In this case, blood pressure may increase while sitting, and drop while standing. This can cause feelings of nausea, light-headedness, and in worst cases fainting.
Chronic heavy usage of marijuana decreases the function of large airways and often causes bronchial symptoms including wheezing, increased sputum, and chronic cough. There is also evidence that marijuana users have high chances of developing neck and head cancers.
It has been discovered that cannabis fume contains more than 400 chemical compounds, among which most of the compounds are carcinogenic substances. A study that has been carried out on this component shows that high percentage of non-cannabinoid substances of cannabis fumes may affect the alveolar macrophages, substances around the lungs, which play a vital role in the immune system of the body.
Marijuana has some physical effects on men such as affecting some brain parts responsible for proper functioning their reproductive system and sexual activity. Hence, marijuana can cause a decrease in testosterone, leading to enlarged breasts in men, reducing the amount of sperm, and causing infertility.
In women, marijuana can cause irregularity in menstrual cycles, depression, an increased testosterone level, infertility, and also defects in their babies.
Fighting the war against marijuana has brought about a lot of costs to society. It is not an easy war, since marijuana has been widely used in a great number of regions. There are various costs that are involved in the fight against marijuana. The costs involve those collective costs that are endured by society as a whole. These include various fiscal costs of arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating marijuana offenders, and public safety costs of enforcing these laws instead of others. Some other costs include dealing with family members who engage in illegal consumption of the marijuana substance and are arrested for violating marijuana laws.
Fiscal and Organizational Costs
The enforcement of marijuana laws uses up a lot of fiscal and organizational resources, beginning with law enforcement. Marijuana arrests constitute a big part of the recent increase in drug arrests nationally. As the number of marijuana arrests grows, the domestic law enforcement component of the federal drug control budget also goes up.
Individuals in possession of marijuana are arrested and the enforcement of marijuana laws consumes a lot of correctional resources. Since the number of offenders has gone up due to the enforcement of marijuana laws, it costs the government a lot of taxpayers’ money and the costs include the money spent on incarcerating someone in a state prison; funding for a new prison bed; costs of detaining marijuana offenders in county jails; supervision in the community after release; and filtering large numbers of arrests due to marijuana offenses through the prosecutor’s offices and the courts. All these consume significant local and court resources. Also, the majority of offenders cannot afford lawyers; thus, a state lawyer has to be administered to them, which causes additional expenses. Therefore, marijuana enforcement entails significant institutional costs, including police, court, and jail resources, since once arrested, the marijuana offender is booked into jail and this incurs costs. Their cases are processed by prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and court personnel, which drives the marijuana enforcement budget off the roof.
Families of individuals arrested for marijuana will face a lot of financial costs such as lawyer fees that will be incurred for those whose loved ones took private counsel. Legal proceedings also cause other costs to their families such as bail, fines and court costs. Some of the families could face loss of assets such as savings and property by the police through forfeiture laws, and loss of incomes due to the arrest of their loved ones. Their families also face social, psychological and physical costs such as emotional stress of fearing the uncertain future of their loved ones; the sense of guilt; and loss of confidence during the criminal proceedings (Robert, 2011).
Legalizing marijuana has its pros and cons. Most studies show that the legalization of marijuana does not at all increase marijuana use in many parts of the country.
The pros of legalizing marijuana can be considered from different points of views. From an economic point of view, legalization of marijuana will have a positive effect on the economy. This will lead to the establishment of new firms or factories which would allow people to buy its product without being arrested by the government authorities. Illegal dealers of marijuana that are currently making their illegal money would like to get rich quickly with the support of government officials. They would also like to start their own legal profitable businesses. This would enable them to establish a client base, which is a vital component in any business environment. This kind of business will be easily established because it does not need a huge starting capital and will quickly spread to other parts within and outside the United State. One of the positive points of legalization of marijuana is that it may lead to an increase of the National Income and (GDP) Gross Domestic Product, because of high production of marijuana products which are grown and sold. Most sellers of marijuana are those below the poverty line. Thus, giving them legal dealings in marijuana will also help to eradicate poverty.
Also, legalization of marijuana will lower the government costs used in enforcing laws on marijuana, and the money can be used to develop the country in other more important spheres. Legalization of marijuana will allow the government a higher level of control than when trying to ban it. It will be better to try and control it and reduce its harmful effects. The government can educate people on the effects of the marijuana use and bring a better understanding of the drug. Marijuana legalization will also allow for a quality and safe product. Legalizing marijuana will also make marijuana fall into the category of alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana will be the lesser evil among the three, since people may prefer it to alcohol and tobacco thus reducing their harmful effects.
The government can benefit from taxing marijuana dealers. Since it has a high possibility of bringing in a lot of income, it will be a great source of tax revenue for the government. The government can also get revenue from marijuana dealers, as they will need a business license to operate, and this will give the government revenue.
On the other hand, legalizing marijuana has some negative effects that are detrimental to society. Undoubtedly, legalizing marijuana may be harmful to the youth, since there will be aggressive advertising campaigns and the youth will be definitely informed on its use. Control measures to prevent the effects of advertising on young people will be a wild goose chase, as it will be easy to reach young people through different media, for example, the Internet. Also, a negative consequence of legalizing marijuana is a probable increase of antisocial activities such as violent criminals at large. It is believed that there is a correlation between drug use and violent crimes. If there are more marijuana users in the streets, then it means there will be a lot of violent criminals.
Another negative effect is that whether we like it or not, whether marijuana is beneficial or not, it has mental and physical bad effects. Since it will be legal, a lot of people will be able to smoke it in public places. Thus, there will be more people affected besides the users themselves. As a result, a larger population will experience the adverse effects of marijuana.
Legalizing marijuana has a lot of effects on society and also on the government. Thus, cost benefit evaluation or analysis on the pros and cons of decriminalizing marijuana should be carefully done to know exactly where the action of legalizing marijuana stands. Marijuana is a drug which is used in various spheres in the present world. The act of legalizing this product in the USA will cause many negative impacts not only to US citizen, but also to the entire world. These negative impacts will outweigh the positive qualities of the substance. Some of the negative impacts include increase of immoral activities because people will be able to take the substance the way they want anytime and anywhere causing violent and other antisocial behavior (Whitaker, 2009).
Finally, legalizing marijuana will increase insecurity incidents because drug users are likely to engage in activities such as killing people, theft, and rape. My point of view is that although the product has changed the world a lot and has numerous positive characteristics, we have to limit the way we use this substance. The government of the USA should not allow the legalization of the product because it will cause more harm than good. Let us use this wonderful product in a manner that will help our people rather than kill them.