Marijuana is the most frequently used drug in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Use, sixty-nine million Americans over the age of twelve have tried marijuana at least once. The proposal for legalizing drugs has entered the mainstream of public debate in recent years, mostly focusing on marijuana. The question is should it be legalized?
A wide range of viewpoints exist on this single controversial issue. Some believe this supposedly potent substance should remain illegal and associated with heroine and cocaine. They see it as a harsh illegal substance; and that it became illegal for a reason and should remain that way. Others view marijuana through different eyes. They see the differences between marijuana and "hard" drugs. When some think of the legalization of marijuana, they fear a marijuana free-for-all with everybody constantly getting high and the United States Government being burdened by legalization. In fact, the process of legalization would include a law passed by Congress allowing the government to control the content, quality, and distribution of marijuana.
The laws would be similar to the current laws regulating alcohol and tobacco, including laws governing age, limits for driving, and distribution. A thorough investigation of the costs and benefits of legalization must be examined before any policy is implemented.
There is a wealth in anecdotal evidence and some scientific evidence that cannabis has potential benefits in a wide range of medicinal conditions for which conventional medicines are far from satisfactory. These include multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders, glaucoma, chronic pain, certain types of epilepsy, anxiety, insomnia, detoxification of opiates, and conditions associated with loss of appetite and weight such as cancer or AIDS. Doctors are permitted to prescribe morphine, cocaine, amphetamines-all drugs that are highly addictive and potentially legal. Why not marijuana, which is...