Illegal drugs are substances that when taken into the body, induce a euphoria or “high”. Because of their addictive properties and adverse effects on the different systems of the body, possession and use of these drugs are prohibited in the country. The DEA list of illegal drugs includes cocaine, marijuana, heroin, MDMA (ecstasy), metamphetamine, steroids and LSD. Among the substances available for abuse today, marijuana is commonly the drug of choice with users hailing from all walks of life.
Marijuana is especially popular with the young because of its use as a recreational drug (DEA). Marijuana or Cannabis has been widely propagated all over the country that it is purported to be our most valuable cash crop (Gettman). The value of Cannabis has in fact exceeded the value of some of our major food crops. The Marijuana Legalization Controversy The brewing controversy over marijuana reached its height when groups began to advocate and lobby intensively for its legalization.
These efforts ranged from campaigning for the legal cultivation and use of marijuana as medicine to its commercial production and sale alongside other products such as alcohol and tobacco. Pro legalization groups have cited medical researches and personal experiences to further their arguments that marijuana indeed has medicinal properties (medical marijuana) that have long been overlooked by the medical community and that now is the time to take advantage of it (MAPS). Legalization advocates went further to state that marijuana is a better alternative to cocaine, heroin or alcohol.
They also cited historical evidences that alcohol use has been at its peak during periods of intense prohibition, suggesting that current federal prohibition on marijuana would result in the same trend. Some theorize on the economics of marijuana legalization stating that state governments can rake in billions of dollars in revenue from marijuana sales taxes, in the same manner that alcohol and cigarettes are being taxed today (NORML). Consequently, the Federal government can also save on funds allocated for marijuana eradication drives.
Since 1999, thirteen U. S. states have already adopted various degrees of legalization. Still, a large segment of society have raised their concerns about whether or not marijuana is really safe for medical or daily use considering the absence of compelling scientific evidence. Fears are also related to whether legalization would contribute to a further increase in marijuana addictions. These groups counter that there are other non-addictive drugs that can be prescribed for the diseases that marijuana purportedly alleviates (Drug Free America).
They also make reference to the gateway theory which suggests that the liberal use of marijuana is the stepping stone to the use of harder, more lethal drugs such as heroin. Drug addiction is one of the most pervasive and alarming social problems we are experiencing. To date, it is estimated that 15 million Americans are using marijuana (NORML). Various clinical and social programs are continually being developed in order to address this problem.
At risk are those in the lower strata of society, residents of inner city neighborhoods, ethnic minority groups and the youth who associate marijuana use with pop and counter culture. More alarming are the government surveys which show that children as young as 15 are now using marijuana (NSDUH). Pro and Anti Marijuana Legalization Groups The most prominent organizations campaigning for legalization are the Marijuana Policy Project, the advocacy arm of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
The MAPS has invested $5 million in a drug development research project for Cannabis spanning 5 years. The NORML boasts of a grassroots base of legalization advocates, with over a hundred chapters in the country and abroad. Aiming for a more cautious approach or the outright scrapping of the legalization agenda are members of the academic and scientific community, the religious sector, concerned parents’ organizations and such organizations as the Drug Free America. Public pressure has so far been strong, preventing Congress to amend current laws on marijuana.
Positions of the Presidential Candidates on the Issue Legalization advocates such as the NORML are pinning their hopes on Democratic Party candidates. Mike Gravel has clearly taken a pro stand. However, Hillary Clinton has stressed the need for further scientific research on the medical benefits of marijuana before even considering its legalization (ProCon. org). In the same vein, Barrack Obama has put the burden on the medical community to decide if marijuana is the best treatment that could be given for a certain illness.
All independent candidates have taken the pro legalization position stressing that all medical options should be made available to the American people (ProCon. org). Incidentally, the independent candidate Steve Kubby is the founder of the American Medical Marijuana Association. Meanwhile, the Republican Party’s John McCain is strongly against legalization stating the fact that the American Medical Association has not even endorsed its medical use (ProCon. org).