Marijuana, also known as cannabis, weed or Maryjane, is a drug that is seen as a popular discussion in the media. It is brought up so much in the media because of the debate over whether or not it should be legalized. Also the government has to take into account, if they were to legalize it, how would it work. In the United States Marijuana is classified as a schedule I drug.
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration defines schedule I drug as, “substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” (DEA / Drug Scheduling). In today’s society, Marijuana has been regarded as a harmful plant that has endangered lives of users. It has gained a negative reputation because of the affects it has on brain function such as: memory, coordination, and learning. However, based on the economic and medical benefits it has proved to overcome the negative reputation of cannabis.
As more United State citizens push for legalization, the question of, why are more drugs are legal and not marijuana, is being raised. Alcohol and tobacco are two of the deadliest drugs that are legal in America. The DEA has noted that there has never been a report from marijuana. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported;
“An estimated 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. The first is tobacco, and the second is poor diet and physical inactivity” (Alcohol Facts and Statistics).
Marijuana is instead viewed under the same category as drugs such as opioids. Instead of being viewed with such harmful drugs it should be seen in the same light as alcohol and tobacco. It is clear that alcohol and tobacco are more harmful to a person than Marijuana. Many cannot understand why marijuana is illegal and alcohol is not. People become concerned with the effects that marijuana has on the body, meanwhile most consume other more harmful substances.
Those who are concerned about the effects that marijuana has on the body are not properly educated on the medical benefits that the plants offers. Marijuana should not only be legalized because it is less harmful than other legal drugs but because it can offer benefits to those suffering. Certain states have legalized the use of medical marijuana.
The National institute on Drug Abuse defines medical marijuana as “using the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat symptoms of illness and other conditions” (NIDA). Studies have shown that cannabis can help in relieving pain, nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, movement disorders, and can help with insomnia.
There are two cannabinoids from the plant that are used in the medical field are CBD and THC. THC is the one that can reduce nausea, potentially increasing appetite and helps with inflammation and muscle control. CBD does not give the user a feeling of being high but still helps in reducing pain, inflammation, and preventing seizures.
Scientists have also been studying how parts of the plants can help kill and reduce the size of cancer cells. At Harvard University studies have shown that THC can cut tumors in lung cancer in half, while also stopping cancer’s ability to grow and spread. “According to the researchers, THC fights lung cancer by curbing epidermal growth factor (EGF), a molecule that promotes the growth and spread of particularly aggressive non-small cell lung cancers” (Gardner). The results of this study could be a huge breakthrough in the medical and pharmaceutical fields because it could possibly change the way cancers are treated.
CNN published a story about a six-year-old girl named Charlotte Figi. Charlotte suffered from Dravet Syndrome, which is a rare form of epilepsy. At only three months old, Charlotte suffered her first seizure, which lasted about thirty minutes. Following that she was repeatedly hospitalized for seizures that would last two to four hours. By three years old she was having about three hundred seizures per week, losing her ability to walk, talk, and eat.
Multiple different medications were tested on her and nothing was coming close to relieving the pain. It got so bad that to give her body a rest doctors suggested that they put her in a medically induced coma. That was when her the parents started to do research. Her father went online and found a similar case to Charlotte and the answer was medical marijuana. The article published by CNN states that after treatment “Charlotte, 6, is thriving.
Her seizures only happen two to three times per month, almost solely in her sleep. Not only is she walking, she can ride her bicycle. She feeds herself and is talking more and more each day” (Young). Despite stories reported such as Charlotte’s, the government still classifies marijuana as a schedule one drug. Heroin, cocaine, and LSD are also classified as schedule one drugs. The issue with classifying marijuana as a schedule one drug, is that schedule one drugs must have no medical use. Based on research and reported stories, marijuana is proving it has a use in the medical field.
Recently there has been talk about various ways to boost the United States economy. By the end of 2012 the states of Colorado and Washington began the movement in doing so by, both legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Colorado legalizing marijuana proved that the legalization of this drug is one of the most effective ways to start new growth in the economy. Tax revenue is the obvious economic aspect that is boosted when marijuana is legalized.
CNN reported that in Colorado as of July 2017, “Revenue from taxes and fees has increased each year, from $76 million in 2014 to $200 million last year” (Smith). Recreational marijuana is taxed with a sales tax of 2.9 percent, and then the state charges an excise tax of fifteen percent and a special sales tax of 10 percent, plus license and application fees. For medical marijuana there is only 2.9 percent sales tax plus license and application fees The profits that the state gains are used mostly on schools. Smaller portions of the money go to towards regulating the marijuana industry with drug prevent and treatment programs.
These numbers reported by CNN also show how tax revenue increases after legalization, “Pot shops opened in Washington in July 2014, and in Oregon in October 2015. Last year, pot tax revenue totaled $256 million in Washington and $60 million in Oregon, in the same year that Colorado brought in $200 million” (Smith).
This popular debate is one that over the next few months has the potential to hit very close to home. In November of 2017, the next governor of New Jersey was elected, democrat Phil Murphy. Throughout his campaign the future governor vowed to legalize recreational marijuana in the state of New Jersey.
CNN also reported, “State Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he wants call a vote on a draft bill that was written in May, and get it approved within 100 days of Murphy’s inauguration on January 16” (Smith). After being analyzed it is believed that if New Jersey follows through with the plan to legalize marijuana, it could eventually grow into a one-billion-dollar market, creating a tax revenue of three hundred million dollars.
If legalization of the plant occurs it will start with 5 percent sales tax the first year, followed by 15 percent the second year, and 25 percent in the third. The income the state would have would be relatively similar to Oregon rather than Colorado. New Jersey’s would differ slightly because it is more densely populated.
Over the year’s marijuana has gained a negative reputation as a drug. It’s economical and medical benefits seem to have overcome this reputation in certain states, New Jersey may possibly be the next. Marijuana as a schedule I drug has never had a reported death but is still classified under the same guidelines as drugs that have reported deaths. In the medical field this plant has shown that it can help make peoples pain tolerable. In the states that have legalized their profits from tax revenue have done nothing but increased since legalization. After seeing what legalization has done for other states, it is a nationwide debate on whether this drug should be legalized.
“Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2017.
Gardner, Amanda, and Healthday Reporter. “Marijuana Compound May Fight Lung Cancer.” ABC News. ABC News Network, 23 Mar. 1970. Web. 19 Nov. 2017.
Ingraham, Christopher. “The Marijuana Industry Created More than 18,000 New Jobs in Colorado Last Year.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 27 Oct 2016. Web. 02. Dec. 2017.
Smith, Aaron. “Colorado Passes a milestone for Pot Revenue.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 19 July 2017. Web. 02 Dec. 2017
Smith, Aaron. “New Jersey Could Become the next Legal Pot State.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 10 Nov. 2017. Web. 02 Dec. 2017.
NIDA. “Marijuana as Medicine.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 28 Apr. 2017. Web. 19 Nov. 2017.
Young, Saundra. “Marijuana Stops Child’s Severe Seizures.” CNN. Cable News Network, 07 Aug. 2013. Web. 19 Nov. 2017.