Marijuana still blazing trails through American culture, courts
Dope. Hemp. Pot. Reefer. The fact that marijuana has so many slang terms shows how ingrained it is in our culture. So should it be legalized?
According to drugabuse.gov, “marijuana’s negative effects on attention, memory and learning can last for weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off.” After you have come down from your high, the drug is still affecting you. “Compared with their nonsmoking peers, students who smoke marijuana tend to get lower grades.”
Marijuana has the misconception that is is harmless, but that is false. “Marijuana has long-lasting effects, especially in adolescents. It needs some sort of regulation,” said Kenneth S. Arfa, a psychiatrist at the University Health Center.
There are other issues that come with marijuana use. According to Arfa, “there may be a weakening of the body’s ability to fight infection. It’s risky for people with high blood pressure or heart disease, as it speeds heart rate by 20 or 30 beats per minute. Marijuana cuts airflow in chronic users and may cause cancer. It lowers sperm counts, and can cause erectile problems and gynecomastia.”
Now on to the “good” things about marijuana. An article in the Sacramento Bee said that “pot may offer broad benefits for pain from nerve damage from injuries, HIV, strokes and other conditions.” Randy Astaiza of The Business Insider said, “Marijuana use can be used to treat and prevent the eye disease glaucoma, which increases pressure in the eyeball, damaging the optic nerve and causing loss of vision.”
Should pot be legalized in the United States overall? Twenty states have legalized it so far.
On a side note, according to a Gallup poll, “In the U.S., 38% have tried marijuana. Fewer young adults have tried it today compared with in the 1970s and 1980s.” Why the hype about legalizing marijuana now? The American Prospect writes, “First, we’ve had a fairly active debate about medical use of marijuana for some time, and that debate has been soundly won by the pro-legalization side, with as much as three-quarters of the public favoring legalization for medical purposes. Second, the decline in crime rates may make cracking down on anybody who thinks about lighting up seem like a waste of time. But the most important factor, I’d be willing to bet, is the aging of the population.”
Young people are the ones who support it the most. Gallup shows support for legalization is at 62 percent among adults under 30, 56 percent among those aged 30 to 49, 49 percent among those aged 50 to 64, and 31 percent among those over 65.
There are many factors to be taken into account. Arfa said, “This is an emotional issue involving the safety, social and economic effects of the drug. Supporters of legalization ask: ‘Why should we continue to sell cigarettes and alcohol but not marijuana legally?’ They ask, ‘Why criminalize citizens who don’t believe it’s a dangerous drug and choose to use it?’”
Marijuana legalization, for the most part, seems to be a bad idea. At the same time, if marijuana use helps those that are ill, maybe it should be okay for them to use.
Opinion columnist Callie Parrish is a math and arts senior and may be reached at [email protected]