Marijuana vs. Alcohol

 
What comes to your mind when you hear the word?  You know what word I am talking about.  It’s the most frequently used illegal drug in the world.  In the United States, it’s illegal to possess, use, buy, sell, or cultivate the drug.  The most common way to consume the drug is to smoke it.  The drug I am talking about is marijuana.  And while some of the first words that come to your mind might be harmful, idiotic, and even death, it’s really more in depth than that.  While marijuana use is obviously not the healthiest thing in the world to do, it’s not much different than alcohol and tobacco use.  Over 83 million Americans over the age of 12 have tried marijuana at least once in their life.

I am not writing this essay to tell people how marijuana is safe, because I know it’s not.  I am writing it to tell people that it should be legal, just like alcohol and cigarettes.  Do you know how many Americans die every year because of the direct result of alcohol consumption?  Well, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 20,000 Americans die every year as the result of alcohol consumption.  On the other hand, studies have shown that the number of Americans who have died from marijuana overdose is zero.  I think that alcohol abuse is a much bigger problem in America than marijuana abuse.  Most people, when they consume alcohol in excessive quantities, they become mean and overbearing and are far more prone to commit domestic violence or sexual assault.  The odds of any male-to-female physical aggression were more than 8 times (11 times) higher on days when men drank than on days of no alcohol consumption.  On the other hand, studies show marijuana use is not significantly associated with an increased likelihood of male partner violence.  Angry is actually the opposite you become after you smoke marijuana.  Most people feel very calm and relaxed after smoking and just want to find something to eat.  Drinking and driving is another factor that makes marijuana safer.  According to the The National Center for Victims of Crime, one person is killed in an alcohol-related crash every twenty-nine minutes.   Statistics show that the risks for accidental injury and auto accidents are less serious for marijuana than alcohol.  In 2007, an estimated 12,298 people died in alcohol-impaired traffic crashes.  Finally, far too often do you see high school and college parties being busted for alcohol and not marijuana.  People get way too out of hand sometimes at parties and get to be way too loud and that is usually what gets them busted.  And like I said, most people are tranquil and relax after smoking weed.



Marijuana vs. Cigarettes

  You may think that comparing marijuana and cigarettes would be difficult because you smoke each, but in reality, it’s really not.  Research has shown that marijuana smokers show less evidence of lung injury as compared to people who smoke tobacco, because smoking cannabis protects them from developing a situation like emphysema.  Another reason marijuana use is safer is because people tend to smoke less marijuana than tobacco.  The typical cigarette smoker smokes a half a pack or sometimes even a pack a day.  That is a lot of smoke going into your lungs.  And while I know it’s not any healthier, it only takes a couple of hits of marijuana to become high or get a buzz.  All smoke is unhealthy, but that risk can be eliminated by eating the plant instead of smoking it, or it can be reduced by using water pipes to smoke smaller amounts of more potent marijuana.  Other studies show that most people who try cannabis quit relatively early in their lives.  Smoked tobacco, with a 90% addiction rate, is the most addictive of all drugs while marijuana is less addictive than caffeine.  All cigarettes have nicotine, which is extremely addictive.  Nicotine is the drug in tobacco leaves.  Whether someone smokes, chews, or sniffs tobacco, he or she is delivering nicotine to the brain.  Each cigarette contains about 10 milligrams of nicotine.  Nicotine is what keeps people smoking despite the harmful effects.  According to the American Heart Association, “Nicotine addiction has historically been one of the hardest addictions to break.”  The pharmacological and behavioral characteristics that determine tobacco addiction are similar to those that determine addiction to drugs such as heroin and cocaine.  Cigarettes kill more than 450,000 people a year, and like I have said there has never been a reported death of smoking marijuana.




If Marijuana was legalized...


1 out of 100 American adults are in jail.  When you read this statistic, you may be wondering, “Why are so many of our American citizens behind bars?”  Well, the answer is marijuana.  In the year 2006, 43.9 percent of the 1,889,810 total arrests for drug violations were for marijuana – a total of 829,627.  Out of the 829,627, 738,916 were arrested for marijuana possession alone.  The United States would make billions if marijuana was legalized and also the crime rate would have a major drop.  For example, in the Netherlands, where marijuana is legal, they have seen the crime rate drop significantly.  The crime rate would drop extremely because people wouldn’t have to deal the drugs illegally, they could just walk into gas stations and mini marts and purchase the marijuana.  On occasion during a drug deal that has money involved, a disagreement occurs, and violence typically follows the disagreement.  And to no one’s surprise, the violence almost always leads to someone dying or being seriously injured. What else could marijuana do for the economy? Well, many Americans would retain or receive the job that they had or were applying for.  I see people getting fired or losing their job way too often these days just because they failed a drug test and the drug they were using was marijuana.  Welfare is a big and major problem in the United States and legalizing marijuana would be the perfect first step to solve the problem.  Welfare is financial assistance paid to people by governments.  If marijuana was legalized a tax could be imposed that could boost the economy, provide for welfare, and start paying off the enormous amount of debt accumulated.  Roughly 12 to 16 percent of people in the United States live below the federal poverty line at any given point of time.  Most Americans (58.5%) will spend at least one year below the poverty line at some point between ages 25 and 75.  That is how large of a problem poverty is in the United States of America.

In Conclusion....

  The legalization of marijuana is one of the most complex subjects that the American government is dealing with right now.  It doesn’t matter if you’re pro-marijuana or anti-marijuana; any person can come up with a good argument on to why it should or should not be legalized in America.  You have read all of my reasons as to why I think marijuana should be legalized.  What are some of the reasons of those that do not believe in marijuana being legalized? The number one factor is it’s not healthy for you.  Yes, it’s healthier than cigarettes but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy.  Another factor is that marijuana hinders your short-term memory and you might have trouble handling complex tasks.  Are these reasons serious?  Of course they are.  Are they more serious than alcohol and cigarette use?  That is the thing I don’t understand.  They aren’t more serious.  If anything, binge drinking is what should be made illegal.  Binge drinking is often defined nowadays as drinking alcoholic beverages with the primary intention of being intoxicated.  There is currently no international consensus on how many drinks constitute a “binge,” but the term is often taken to mean consuming 5 or more standard American drinks (male), or 4 or more drinks (female), in about for a typical adult.  They vary though on weight and numerous other variables.  Binge drinking is very dangerous.  Drinking too fast can stop your heart and overdosing on alcohol can cause cardiac arrest and alcohol poisoning.  I don’t understand how that is any safer than marijuana.  There is no doubt in my mind that binge drinking should be made illegal.  If I was the United States government, I would make alcohol only available in bars because the bartenders stop serving the customers when they notice they are becoming too intoxicated that they can’t even function properly.  Cigarettes should still be legal too because the side-effects of smoking cigarettes aren’t that serious.  The government also makes quite a bit of money from cigarette taxes.  And last, but certainly not least, marijuana should be made legal.  Marijuana is the only drug that should be legal though because I believe all the other illegal drugs out there are horrible for you and wouldn’t benefit anyone or anything. It never hurts to try anything new and I feel the legalization of marijuana wouldn’t do anything to hurt anyone or anything.



Sources

 
Afe, Kevin.  “Marijuana.”  Photo.  2000
http://s114.photobucket.com/albums/n258/kevinafe2000?action=viewt=marijuana.jpg


 

Henningfield, Jack.  New York Times.  2 Aug 1994.  "Is Nicotine Addictive?
http://www.saferchoice.org/content/view/24/53/

 

Wehtje, Jim.  “X-Ray image of scales weighing wine bottle and marijuana leaf, white background.’  Photo.  Gettyimages.com
www.gettyimages.com/detail/sb10062820t-001/Photographers-Choice-RF?axd=DetailPaging.Generic
 


Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse.  “Marijuana.”  [Online]
http://www.well.com/user/woa/fspot.htm



"Drug use among teens eases." Nutrition Today 34.2 (Mar. 1999): 62. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. [Library name], [City], [State abbreviation]. 12 Dec. 2008 http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=1991733&site=ehost-live



Wikipedia.  “Cannabis (drug).” [Online]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marijuana