Marijuana, a renowned variant of the plant Cannabis Sativa (Goode 1) continues to blossom and grow as it is often showered with issues and controversies. Marijuana’s seemingly (infamous) reputation has been the topic of many intense and heated debates. For many of marijuana’s supporters and acclaimed believers, marijuana is not an ordinary plant that can easily grow in one’s backyard. It is best described as a “miracle plant” due to its ability to heal and create therapeutic effects. As a matter of fact, several medical practitioners support such claims.
Some would even prescribe marijuana for different kinds of treatment. On the other hand, the outright opposition and counter-attack often emanate from many law makers and other members of the community such as the school, the church and concerned parents. For them, marijuana is a harmful substance. The effects of what others perceive as “wonder plant” are devastating and life threatening. Given this situation at hand, there is a major question that has to be answered and readily addressed, should marijuana be legalized or not?
If marijuana is proven to be a potent medicine or treatment, then perhaps it would be too unfair to prohibit the use of such drug. If such plant can lessen the sufferings of humanity due to certain kinds of ailments and chronic diseases, to deny them of marijuana use also translates to denying their rights to live a healthy and normal life. In the meantime, if the plant is also prone to producing addictive effects that can harm one’s health and at the same time affect their attitudes and behavioral patterns, legalizing its use would place society in very uncompromising situation.
Society is an organized and systematic structure. Therefore, one of its duties and obligations is to ensure the safety of the majority. However, to actually reinforce and encourage the use of such substance is tantamount to euthanasia, or even mass murder at the extreme. Therefore, which ever actions are favored and implemented, the only thing that is certain is that it would create a major impact into the lives of many individuals.
The concerns of the state and the welfare of the whole community would have a different face and the laws governing the land shall be readily redefined. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in 2004 alone, it is estimated that 14. 6 million Americans, starting from age 12 and above have had marijuana intake (“NIDA InfoFacts: Marijuana”). In that same year, it is said that approximately 6,000 Americans are using marijuana in a single day (“NIDA InfoFacts: Marijuana”). Indeed, the popularity of the said substance tends to increase.
What is surprising or alarming for that matter is that even children are now fast becoming aware of marijuana and whether it is plain curiosity or enthusiasm, a single truth remains –that marijuana is readily utilized by the succeeding generations—that youngsters now have an easy access to this drug. Since their exposure begins at a very young age. They may carry this orientation through adulthood. By that time comes, their perceptions of the said drug are now based on pure and raw experience.
It is something that is not derived from media reports or formal education. They become more familiar with the drug and its effects. Thus, the opinions and views of other individuals or institutions which lack the actual experience that these youngsters have, no longer matter. This kind of situation is the reason behind Peter Cohen’s analysis on whether marijuana’s legality can be assessed as something that comes out from the desire to champion “compassionate use” or whether such is simply triggered by “vox populi (19). ”
Cohen’s arguments mainly revolve around whose claims should be considered with regards to legalizing marijuana (19). He (Cohen) mentioned that the tensions and disparities felt in implementing laws that allow marijuana usage sprung between those who simply “favors” marijuana’s used, regardless of whether they have scientific proofs or evidences and those who are acclaimed as “experts” in the field (19). It seems that the government is trapped between the two factions. Their arguments and line of defense, on way or another, have important points that must be readily considered.
Once and for all, if one has to critically assess the situation, experts or members of the academe who have performed and rendered considerable amount of time in studying marijuana’s effects are backed or supported by scientific explanations. The term “scientific” becomes the operative word in here for such translates to analyzing intricate details of the involved and subject and that certain procedures or prerogatives are strictly followed so as not to upset the objectivity of data analysis.
However, if these experts have developed their evidences from highly organized observation and by observation, this also means that these individuals have to distance themselves—it seems that the results they have produced are just one of the many “possible” effects of marijuana. One should not also deny the fact that a vast majority of those who analyzed marijuana’s impacts does not really entertain the idea that they themselves would use this substance.
But then again, it cannot be denied that those who have expressed their full support for marijuana, are also prone to heavy reliance on rhetoric and “convincing powers” with no studies to support their claims and call for action. Take for example, the case of JJ who has been diagnosed with personality disorders (“The Case of Medical Marijuana”). The boy was subjected to various treatments and different types of drugs, but to no avail, his condition even got worse, not to mention the fact that his mother has to resort to disciplinary practices in order to control the behavior of the child (“The Case of Medical Marijuana”).
Yet, upon giving him a marijuana treatment, the boy showed positive changes and responded accordingly to his environment (“The Case of Medical Marijuana”). Although, marijuana has proven to have positive effects, JJ’s mother is still not thoroughly convinced on whether she would allow her son to continue the treatment (“The Case of Medical Marijuana”). In this case, Cohen’s notion of “vox populi” does not simply reside on those who favors marijuana utilization. But of course, there are also many individuals who are directly opposed to legalizing marijuana’s use.
JJ’s mother serves as a concrete example—that while marijuana rendered positive results for her son, she is still hesitant whether she would continue such treatment. Basically, this has something to do with the negative connotations that are often attributed to it. For many, marijuana is a substance that should be readily avoided as it has been often linked with adverse and chronic diseases such as lung cancer and to a certain extent—psychological imbalance and disorders (Graves et. al. 379).
Negative impressions about marijuana are also heightened since it has been known to be used along with other abusive drugs or substances such as alcohol and cocaine (Graves et. al. 379). Basically this stigma causes moral panic among the parents and other members of the community. If marijuana can be used with other harmful substances, regardless of whether it can be used for medical purposes or not, then legalizing this drug is often perceived as something that would further encourage and promote its massive use.
Even though, the authorities remain vigilant and watchful over the matter, there is still a strong tendency that such drug will be distributed in utmost secrecy. When moral panic is concerned, ethical considerations are placed into the limelight. Both the public and the policy regulators are keen to observing these considerations. These factors have also affected the stand on whether marijuana should be legalized or not.