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What if I told you there was an amazing, new to some, product on the market that carried benefits ranging from help with insomnia, anxiety, cancer symptom relief, and maybe even the cure for some types of cancers and diseases? What if I told you that this product is readily available, affordable, and natural? Well a product like this does exist and we refer to it as marijuana, cannabis, and in some forms, CBD. We’ve all heard it before, the old saying that “Marijuana is the gateway drug” that leads troubled youth down the path of toxic drug use and addiction. Marijuana has carried this title and been surrounded by a dark cloud for quite some time mainly due to people’s lack of knowledge about the substance. However, due to recent research, marijuana has proven to be more natural than the majority of other medications and substances we put in our body and carries less side effects. In comparison to other substances, marijuana ranks low on the addiction scale and is affordable regardless of whether or not you have insurance. Marijuana should be legalized for recreational and medical purposes throughout the United States due to its unending benefits for the consumer, for both enjoyment and health, and the notable boost it would provide to our economy.
In recent years, science has been striving to prove the unending benefits that marijuana carries. However, marijuana has been a hot topic of study dating all the way back to 1944 when Fiorella La Guardia, the mayor of New York City, enlisted a group of doctors, pharmacologists, psychiatrists, and chemists to study the drug (Bienenstock, 2018). During this study, notable medicinal and therapeutic benefits were found prompting further studies (Bienenstock, 2018) One of the most notable studies of the benefits of marijuana was conducted in 2003 by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (Bienenstock, 2018). In this study, researchers really began to see the what benefits marijuana brought to to the table in terms of how we use it today, the began to see its ability to “limit neurological damage” and in some cases even treat diseases such as Parkinson’s (Bienenstock, 2018). Since then, a multitude of studies and clinical trials involving the drug have been performed with current ongoing studies trying to prove even more benefits.
The benefits of medical marijuana are endless. More importantly, scientists have figured out how to break down the drug and separate the properties that cause a “high” from the properties that provide medicinal benefits, thus making the product even more appealing (Grinspoon, 2018). The ability to eliminate the “high” that can be caused from this product also strikes down opponents of the drug that say it is a mind altering substance and can cause decreased brain function. Pain relief is listed as one of the most prevalent uses for the drug (Grinspoon, 2018). It’s intended use is not for severe pain but for chronic pain that is brought on by diseases such as multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and endometriosis (Grinspoon, 2018). Opioids were the go to method for pain relief causing nationwide opioid abuse at crippling rates that some people term a severe “crisis” (Sulak, 2016). According to Dr. Sulak, marijuana, in its natural state or in the form of CBD (Cannabidiol) can easily not only take the place of these dangerous and addictive pain relievers but it can also help treat the addiction to opioids (Sulak, 2016). Nausea, Glaucoma, weight loss, tremors from Parkinson’s, anxiety, PTSD, and even insomnia are listed as ailments that can be treated with medical marijuana (Grinspoon, 2018). The New England Journal of Medicine also noted a significant drop in the amount of seizures amongst patients with Epilepsy who were administered the CBD compound (Grinspoon, 2018). New medicinal purposes for this drug are discovered all the time!
While many people are volleying for marijuana in medicinal forms, there are many people all over the United States who chose to use marijuana for recreational purposes. Across the nation people are consuming harmful products such as tobacco and alcohol to alter their state of mind. The harmful effects of marijuana are much less than those of its counterparts (“Should Recreational Marijuana Be Legal”, 2019) so most people chose the safer option. If you are going to put something in your body to feel a “high” then marijuana is the safer choice (“Should Recreational Marijuana Be Legal”, 2019). Studies have also shown that marijuana is not linked to lung cancer and that smoking marijuana doesn’t harm the lungs like the nicotine from tobacco does (Holland, 154). The “high” from marijuana provides people with many positive feelings such as creativity and the ability to share and express feelings and ideas with others more freely (Pala, 2019). Marijuana can also alter a person’s mood making them feel happier, less stressed, and even to have a more positive outlook on what is considered a stressful situation (Pala, 2019). While alcohol is considered depressant marijuana seems to do the opposite for most people and is known to have positive effects on individuals (Pala, 2019)
Aside from the benefits of marijuana use to an individual, this drug stands to offer a tremendous financial boost to the economy on both a state and federal level. Colorado for example posts staggering revenue statistics. In eight months the state made over 1 billion dollars, yes that’s with a “b”, in revenue from the sale and taxation of marijuana in all forms (Rubino, 2018). Out of that 1 billion dollar amount, 200 million came from taxes (Rubino, 2018). Where does that money go? It goes to fund many different things on a state and local level. Adams County, located in the east Denver area has used their portion of the money to create scholarships for students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford college (Awad, 2018). The city of Aurora uses their money towards scholarships but also puts money towards fighting homelessness by creating a day center (Awad, 2018). A certain percentage of the money earned through marijuana taxation is also given to the State Department of Agriculture and to help fund public schools (Awad, 2018). Other states that have legalized the drug in some form are also seeing the monetary benefits from the sale of the drug and are using their funds in the same way. Along with tax income, the industry could also potentially create many jobs which would lead towards even more money from taxes on both a state and federal level. The Marijuana Policy group in Nevada said that through 2024, the legalization of marijuana could stand to create over 41,000 jobs (Krishna, 2019). This would decrease the state and national unemployment levels. Along with creating more jobs, the legalization of marijuana also creates many more investment opportunities (Krishna, 2019). Krishna also notes that money can be saved by being able to cut back on or eliminate entirely the amount of money that is used towards federal marijuana law enforcement (Krishna, 2019). The amount of money saved; again an astounding number in the billions of dollars (Krishna, 2019). Being able to create more jobs, investment opportunities, revenue, and eliminating costs from several federal agencies could definitely have a major impact on a state’s economy and the federal economy.
With so many medications already on the market and legal, what does marijuana offer that the other, legal substances do not? One of the main differences that sets marijuana apart is that it is available (in states where it is legal) without a prescription and is cost-efficient because it is relatively cheap to purchase even without the aid of insurance. For example, Topamax is a common drug given to people with epilepsy to help in the prevention of seizures (“Topamax Prices”, 2019). Without insurance, the cost of this medication skyrockets to prices that aren’t affordable and in some cases, given certain dosages, can exceed $765 for a sixty-day supply if the user does not have insurance (“Topamax Prices”, 2019). Medical marijuana, which is being researched and on trial runs to do the same thing as Topamax, is available for a fraction of that cost and depending on the form it comes in, and again the dosage can cost a person on average $20 (Koffler, 2019). In comparison to other drugs on the market, marijuana is much safer in terms of overdoses, accidental deaths, and crime rates. An article published by USA Today noted that each year 88,000 deaths are alcohol-related and 72,000 deaths are opioid-related (O’Donnell, 2018). It is almost impossible to make marijuana in a potent enough form to cause an overdose and overdose is extremely unlikely (Villa, 2016). One study found that in terms of domestic violence partners who smoked marijuana had much lower rates of spousal abuse versus their counterparts who drank alcohol (Villa, 2016). In regards to automobile accidents, the use of marijuana increased a person’s chances of having an accident by 83 percent (Villa, 2016). 83 percent might seem like a high number but pales in comparison to the fact that alcohol use increases accident chances by 2,200 percent (Villa, 2016). A study by the National Traffic Safety Administration stated that there is no evidence proving that cannabis alone causes car crashes (Holland, 199). Another study showed that marijuana users are often aware that they may be cognitively affected and turn to safer driving tactics like reduced speed and avoidance of risk-taking behaviors (Holland, 198). Marijuana, time and time again, showcases its medicinal and therapeutic properties that become even more enticing when stacked against the opposition such as opioids and alcohol and the side effects like addiction and risk-taking behavior that they carry.
Any approach you take to marijuana and its effects on individuals and the impact it can have on local, state, and federal economies casts a practical and positive light on the drug. There are negative aspects of legalizing marijuana but the benefits are well worth the risks. From reducing crime rates, providing funding, and minimizing the deaths caused by overdoses from other drugs (“Should Recreational Marijuana Be Legal”, 2019) it is easy to see the benefits gained from legalizing the drug. Marijuana should be legalized for recreational and medical purposes throughout the United States due to its unending benefits for the consumer, for both enjoyment and health, and the notable boost it would provide to our economy.
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