[Debate] Marijuana: A catalyst

In an effort to engender educated conversation, the Opinion staff will debate pressing election topics.  Future debate topic idea?  Email Zach Brown at zbrown@samford.edu.

Positions are determined by coin-flip.  Stated opinions may not necessarily reflect an individual columnist’s view, but are crafted for rhetorical exercise.

Should marijuana be legalized in the United States?

To see Evan Elmore’s response to this question, click here.

Marijuana: a catalyst

By Katie Savage

The debate over the legalization of marijuana remains a cloudy one of muddled stances on the definition of the use of the substance itself:  should it be legalized as a prescribed medicinal pain reliever, or should it be legalized as a component of the “War on Drugs?” Marijuana, in its use for both medicinal and recreational purposes, should not be legalized.

Varying forms of marijuana intake are being developed. It is not only available through the form of smoking, but it is also available to some as a mouth spray. Marijuana quickly enters the bloodstream as it is inhaled through the lungs, and although the reaction time varies with each individual, its effects on brain occur within minutes.

Effects include altered coordination, reasoning skills, and time perception, just to name a few.  Being under such a heavy marijuana influence–being “high”—can be considered as dangerous as having a DUI while driving. The question of whether or not marijuana is addictive remains at large because many case studies differ in results, but withdrawal symptoms are evident.

In the medical sense, marijuana, also known as cannabis sativa, has a therapeutic aspect that relieves pain, controls nausea and stimulates appetite. The 2012 election pro/con candidate biography on the topic of marijuana contains Vice President Joe Biden stating that “there’s got to be a better way for a humane society to figure out how to deal with that problem;” the problem being the treatment of pain.

The drug may alleviate pain for a few hours at a time, but in the meantime, many detrimental physiological effects result, and the drug does not cure the problem; rather, it creates more issues. Must our society be forced to succumb to a drug that simply makes you “high”? It a disgrace that we are not able to provide a solution for the pain and that we are forced to offer a drug that is not necessarily intended for a person in chronic pain.

The legalization of the medicinal use is exponentially growing, and medicinal marijuana has already been legalized in 16 states including the District of Columbia; 12 states are pending legislation, and several states have decriminalized the use of medicinal legislation. Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan supports the states’ own decisions in legalization.

The “terms and conditions” aspect of legalizing marijuana remains at large, mainly because politicians have different exceptions to the legalization of marijuana. President Obama believes that medicinal marijuana, if prescribed in the appropriate way for medicinal purposes, is up to the doctors.  Mr. Obama does not think it such a big problem for society, if legalized, but Congress and the Drug Enforcement Administration have identified marijuana as a Substance I drug in that it has high potential for abuse.

Governor Mitt Romney called marijuana the “gateway drug to other drug violations.” Mr. Romney responded with “You are not going to see legalized marijuana, even for medicinal purposes” when asked about his actions if elected president.

Marijuana, if legalized, will result in an increase of drug-related violence in crimes, drugged drivers, and potential for the use in the workplace. Children are at great risk of influence and use if used in the household, and as the Drug Enforcement Administration cautions, “legalization of marijuana will come at the expense of our children and public safety.”

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