The abuse andaddiction of drugs can be detrimental to the physical and mental health of anindividual. Issues related to drugs are ever-growing around the world. Acurrent major concern which is the root of many debates is the legalization ofmarijuana in Canada.
Marijuana – also called weed, pot, Mary Jane, and manyother names – is a greenish-gray mixture of dried flowers from the Cannabisplant (cite). It is a drug which isused both in medical and recreational situations. In medical circumstances,marijuana contains a chemical called cannabidiol (aka. CBD). CBD displays manymedical benefits, such as acting as an anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory andantipsychotic agent (cite). Thisresults in marijuana being able to be used as potential medicine for thetreatment of epilepsy, neuroinflammation and schizophrenia (cite). However, marijuana is also one of the most commonrecreational drugs used to achieve immediate feelings of euphoria, also knownas the “high”.
This occurs due to its psychoactive (mood-altering) effects onthe body. The “high” is caused by a chemical known as tetrahydrocannabinol(aka. THC). Effects of marijuana initially include relaxed feelings,intensification of sensory experiences, increased socialization and increasedappetite, but leads to a change in thinking, memory, time perception,hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts.
The feelings of euphoria which areachieved can cause an individual to develop an addiction to or dependence onmarijuana. OnNovember 27th, 2017, Bill C-45 – The Cannabis Act – received finalapproval in the House of Commons. This bill enacts the Cannabis Act to allowlegal access to marijuana and to control its manufacturing, distribution, and sale.The objectives of this Act are to prevent underage individuals from accessingmarijuana, to protect the public by applying product safety and standardrequirements, and to dissuade illegal activity by implementing penalties forthose who do not follow the legal guidelines. Marijuana was once again made atopic of discussion by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. During his electioncampaign, Trudeau promised to legalize marijuana if he won the election. Tofulfill his promises, Trudeau and the Liberal Party are pushing to legalize,regulate, and restrict access to marijuana. Currently, the government hasstated that the legalization will take place on or before July 1st,2018.
However, many people, such as Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, arguethat the legalization of marijuana should be delayed by at least a year. Thetopic of legalizing marijuana is an important one as it will cause asignificant change in Canada. In terms of social, law enforcement and economicreasons, the debate on marijuana legalization showcases many advantages. Marijuana is no more harmful to an individual’s health astobacco and alcohol, both of which are widely used and legal. Asmentioned before, marijuana has several medical benefits for diseases such ascancer and AIDS. Legalization would also end the crime and violence which arecaused due to the illegal buying and selling of marijuana.
Furthermore,thousands of arrests have been made regarding the possession of marijuana,which has led to the discussion on whether the resources of the criminaljustice system could be implemented better on more serious issues. Lastly,legalizing marijuana would allow it to be taxed, which would result in revenuebeing created for the government. However, there are also significantdisadvantages which need to be considered. Plenty of problems are being causedby tobacco and alcohol. Although marijuana is only asharmful as these drugs, legalizing another intoxicant will just lead tomore health-related issues.
Marijuana can also act as a gateway drug and canlead individuals to use more harmful drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Even ifminimum age limits were implemented, legalizing marijuana would result in thedrug being more easily accessible, and would inevitably cause more of the drugto fall into the hands of minors. This is a major issue as the brain isdeveloping until age 25, which this drug will adversely affect. Studies haveshown that smoking marijuana can significantly decrease IQ levels, double therisk of a car crash, and increase the chance of developing a mental illness. Additionally,legalizing marijuana could also send out the wrong message to the drug dealersand criminals. It could imply that the authorities are weak on the issue andthat the drugs are safer than perceived. Lastly, long-term or abusive use ofmarijuana can be harmful to an individual’s health and similarly to cigarettes,the second-hand smoke can be harmful to others. Already, there is a dividebetween those who support the legalization and those who do not.
Those who wantto legalize the drug believe that the laws barring it’s use cause more harmthan good. They argue that people should be free to choose whether or not touse marijuana. Those against the legalization state that laws set moralboundaries and standards, and that the removal of these laws will negatively affectthe health and lifestyle of a vast number of people. Overall, both sides of thespectrum should be analyzed with greater detail before a decision is made. Theprocess of the legalization of marijuana is being rushed.
A solution to theissue would be to cease the action until further research is done, as currentlythe negative outcomes outweigh the positives. However, this seems unlikely tooccur because Trudeau and the Liberal Party want to keep the election promiseswhich were previously made. Rather than directly and immediately legalizingmarijuana, alternate solutions can be considered.
Primarily, all positive andnegative outcomes of the action should be discussed by the Liberal Party andthe government in detail. From here, further steps in either for or againstlegalization can be implemented. As some protest, the predicted legalizationdate should also be pushed into the next year to allocate time for all factorsand consequences to be considered. Another solution could be to decriminalizemarijuana but not to legalize it. Decriminalization means that the drug will remainillegal, however, instead of an individual facing arrest and a criminal recordfor possession of a small amount of the drug for personal use, the drug wouldbe confiscated and a fine would be charged. Legalization allows the possessionand use of the drug to be entirely legal, but causes the manufacturing anddistribution of the drug to remain illegal when done without a license.
Thelegalization of marijuana is a serious issue. The process should be taken stepby step by first testing the results of decriminalization rather than leapingthe whole distance in a short time span without considering the effects.