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Cannabis sativa, the main active chemical component in marijuana obtained from the hemp plant, is delat-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Marijuana’s ingestion can be through smoking a cigarette or a water pipe, or mixing it into food or brewing it as tea. Upon the ingestion of marijuana, THC gets into the blood stream. Then, it gets to the brain and other body organs. This chemical component acts upon particular receptors in the brain triggering a series of reactions that make a person fell “high”. The debate over marijuana legalization has dominated the political, economic, and environmental scenes for a long time. Presently, the use of marijuana remains illegal in most parts of the world. In a great number of countries, drug laws categorize marijuana together with other drugs such as heroin and cocaine as a hard drug. Also, numerous laws have been enacted as counter-measures against the use of marijuana. For example, in the 1930s, the United States legislature passed laws restricting marijuana growth, sale, and consumption. Other measures include regulations that allow the police to confiscate vehicles and search homes on allegations of marijuana possession.

The reason for marijuana criminalization originates from various effects attributed to its use. Marijuana distorts perception, impairs coordination, and causes problems with thinking and memory. Long-term marijuana use may lead to addiction. If a person wants to overcome the addiction, it results in irritability, lack of sleep, decreased appetite, anxiety, and other symptoms (Goldstein 115). Also, marijuana smoking increases the heart rate. This significantly increases the risk of heart attack. Furthermore, marijuana affects heart rhythms and causes palpitations and arrhythmia, which increase cardiac vulnerability. Marijuana smoke contains carcinogens and causes lung irritation. Actually, when compared with tobacco, marijuana contains 50-70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons. Marijuana smoking involves deep inhaling and holding breath for longer, which increase the lungs’ exposure to carcinogenic smoke.

However, in comparison with other legal drugs, marijuana is not as addictive and harmful as other hard drugs. Many regular marijuana users agree that to stop using the drug does not pose any problem whatsoever (Bello 30). In fact, marijuana has proved useful in treating alcoholics and morphine addicts. Substituting marijuana for alcohol and morphine has rehabilitative value. Medical reports and studies have shown that marijuana does not pose any considerable threats to society. They have refuted the previous claim that the use of marijuana can cause birth defects, brain damage, reduced testosterone, and other disastrous consequences. Moreover, scientific studies have established that there is no difference between marijuana users and non-users regarding the willingness and ability to perform tasks, thus, eliminating the idea that marijuana induces laziness (Jacob 139). With increasing publicity and support for marijuana legalization, there have been positive results in this regard. For example, in 2000, Ontario’s top official court suggested that the federal government should rewrite the law prohibiting marijuana possession. Furthermore, the Obama administration has introduced policies that regulate the federal agents raiding of medical marijuana dispensaries. Moreover, marijuana users would not be prosecuted for the use of marijuana. Despite being an illegal substance, the fact that the use of marijuana is as widespread as that of legal substances such as tobacco and alcohol calls for a close scrutiny of the laws and motives behind its illegalization. Undoubtedly, marijuana legalization and regulation will positively influence the world.

Marijuana health effects

Various effects emanating from the use of marijuana are caused by ignorance and lack of knowledge. Most marijuana users are not aware of the risk effects, since the information about the drug is minimal and talking about it may raise suspicions and subsequent arrests. Marijuana criminalization hampers the fight against its abuse in various ways. Its legalization will help people learn sufficient information regarding its use. Marijuana criminalization hampers various methods of marijuana addiction treatment such as motivational incentives and behavioral interventions, since marijuana users do not want to expose themselves in fear of being arrested and prosecuted. Thus, even if someone may want to overcome marijuana addiction, the lack of appropriate and supportive channels is likely to hamper such undertakings. In fact, the prohibition of marijuana promotes its abuse among people. Since users have to purchase marijuana from the black market due to the absence of a legal market, they become exposed to hard drugs. Sometimes, drug dealers lace marijuana with portions of substances like cocaine to “hook-up’ their customers. A legal market is likely to eliminate such instances and regulate marijuana filtering, growing, and manufacture. This will facilitate the eradication of the sale of marijuana contaminated by insecticides and other substances such as PCP. In addition, legal product packages will contain warnings informing users of the health risks involved.

Marijuana criminalization discourages the investigation of various THC properties, which can facilitate the treatment of various medical conditions and prevention of various adverse effects of marijuana smoking. Marijuana enhances a person’s physiological and psychological states, which is detrimental to health. Its effect on the body causes slower and more expansive breathing, which leads to increased oxygen intake. It induces capillary expansion and greater heart’s expansion and contraction allowing enhanced blood supply to the rest of the body. Thus, the brain and other body organs receive more oxygenated blood, the result of which is a highly functioning and relaxed body system. The body supplied with more oxygen is able to cope with threatening situations physically and mentally. In addition, marijuana mitigates extreme swings in ANS, which minimizes digestive disturbances.

Asthma patients who have difficulty in exhaling can use marijuana, as it increases bronchial dilation. Moreover, cannabis minimizes emphysema encroachment and suppresses coughing. An alcoholic cannabis extract serves as an effective antibiotic against penicillin-resistant organisms. A pathologist who injured his thumb during dissection and developed a severe infection that was resistant to other antibiotics avoided an imminent amputation by applying cannabis extract. Research indicates that marijuana ingestion initiates the production of alpha waves, which create the state of well-being. The brain waves enhance perpetual experiences due to mental clarity created by a relaxed wave pattern. Slow brain activity provides the energy used for rapid mental shifts and hence the manifestation of consciousness (Bello 36).

There have been cases of women using hemp to aid in childbirth, stimulate lactation, and relieve menstrual cramping (Robinson 46). Pharmacists have identified cannabis as useful, although with various degrees of success, in the treatment of all maladies that the Indians and Chinese have historically treated with hemp. In addition, they have found cannabis effective in the treatment of migraine, blood poisoning, leprosy, and other numerous medical conditions. Its therapeutic use in patients undergoing chemotherapy minimizes nausea and vomiting. A survey of American Society of Clinical Oncology members has revealed that a considerable number of respondents recommended the use of cannabis to patients undergoing chemotherapy, even though it is illegal.

Marijuana and the economy

Every year, governments spend billions of dollars on various marijuana-related cases considering its wide use. These include the prosecution and incarceration of people found in possession of marijuana. Marijuana legalization will reduce the state and local expenditures by approximately 5.5 billion dollars, and the federal expenditures by approximately 2.5 billion dollars annually (Julie Holland, M.D., 448). In America, the police arrest more than seven hundred people per year for marijuana-related offenses. A significant percentage, about 86 percent, of the total arrests is due to marijuana possession, not selling (Goldstein 118). Legalizing marijuana will considerably reduce the workload for the courts and the police. Consequently, they will be able to focus on dealing with crimes that are more serious. If marijuana was legal and regulated like alcohol and tobacco, all the money which goes to criminal gangs and organizations would be channeled to various development projects such as the improvement of education and health care.

Statistics indicate that taxes obtained from marijuana sales would range between 2 to 6 billion dollars annually. Regulations will control where marijuana is used, and at what age people can legally use it. This will eliminate risk factors such as children exposure to marijuana or driving and operating heavy machinery under its influence (Goldstein 118). Marijuana legalization will increase the total government revenue collection obtained from legal marijuana sales, since the government cannot collect taxes on illegal drugs. Furthermore, legalization will eliminate the risks associated with the purchase of marijuana causing an increase in demand. Consequently, the increase in sales will lead to increased government revenues. Although the increased use may have adverse effects on people’s health, legalization will enable the government to control marijuana consumption. Since prohibition increases the prices, it discourages economic and healthy means of marijuana intake such as eating which reduces the  effects of exposure to smoke, as it requires more quantity and hence increases spending. Marijuana prohibition encourages corruption, since those buying and selling from the black market need to avoid law enforcement authorities. Thus, they pay them to continue with the activities uninterrupted.

Industrial hemp

Industrial hemp is useful in papermaking, textiles, food, and other products. Compared to wood, making paper from hemp includes less toxic chemicals and thus facilitates environmental conservation. It is also a viable substitute for cotton in the production of high quality, sustainable, and organically grown fiber. Compared to other composites, hemp-based composites offer better resistance to fire, fungus, rodents, termites, and other pests. Moreover, this hemp use facilitates the preservation of forests, as it provides an alternative to the highly demanded timber (Robinson 24). Hemp provides a source of bio-fuel obtained from its seed oil and stalk with minimal costs to farmers, as it is naturally resistant to pests and weeds and requires minimal fertilizer application as compared with other fiber crops. Hemp seeds produce naturally fine oils, which are fuel sources. Traditionally, the oil has been used in lamps and for heating purposes. Hemp-seed oil burning qualities and viscosity ratings are similar to number-two heating oil (Robinson 30). Considering that it is thicker than the processed liquid fuel and contains some amount of methanol, it produces oxygenated liquid fuel with a boiling point and viscosity similar to that of petroleum diesel fuel. Its use produces full engine power with reduced carbon dioxide and soot emission, and particulates. The oil is also useful as a lubricant. Also, hemp’s woody stalk, when burned directly, provides heat and power for electricity-generating boilers. The cellulose and hemicelluloses in the core can be broken down into starches whose fermenting produces alcohol fuels or can be further digested into methanol, ethanol, or methane gas. Furthermore, energy companies using hemp as a source of fuel will attain considerable savings concerning the installation and operation of pollutant-control equipment. Hemp biomass will facilitate economic development by mitigating fuel costs in areas where other sources of energy are scarce, as the plant grows in diverse climatic conditions.

The hemp plant can grow up to 16 feet out weeds, thus, minimizing the use of harmful and costly herbicides. In fact, after hemp harvesting, the field remains virtually weed-free for the next crop. This will save farmers thousands of dollars while maintaining the water quality without being adversely affected by runoff pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. This will also minimize the introduction of harmful pesticides and herbicides, which pollute the environment. Products manufactured from hemp are easily disposable, since hemp is biodegradable (Robinson 20). Its deep root system helps to minimize soil erosion, and the plant gradually purifies the soil by absorbing heavy-metal contaminants from it. Furthermore, hemp provides a perfect rotation crop with other traditional crops. This is an important aspect in farming practices. Narrow crop rotation increases incidents of diseases and soil pathogens. This results in reduced farm yields and increased use of soil fumigants. The introduction of hemp improves the soil structure, suppresses weeds, and minimizes incidents of diseases and pests. For example, growing beans together with hemp protects them from brown spot infestation. In addition, hemp protects cabbages from the white cabbage butterfly and guards potatoes from late blight infection.

Conclusion

Considering the case of Amsterdam where marijuana is legal, the legalization of marijuana is likely to lead to a strong economy. In addition, the city’s crime and murder rates are among the lowest in the world. This discredits the notion that marijuana use promotes criminal acts. The medical, economic, industrial, and environmental benefits of marijuana legalization and regulation far outweigh the detrimental effects associated with it. Its legalization is likely to enhance the development of advanced technologies that will significantly reduce the harmful effects of marijuana while facilitating its beneficial use in various aspects. Its regulation will keep society safe, especially by reducing the access of young people to marijuana and promoting its sensible use. The services provided by the black market will be pointless. Patients who may derive health benefits from marijuana will be able to have legal access to it. Alcohol legalization has produced a number of positive results. The legalization of marijuana is likely to do the same.

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