Marijuana: Legalize or Decriminalize

Essay by deadheadHigh School, 10th grade April 2003

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"Compared with cigarettes and alcohol, the health risks and societal costs associated with even chronic marijuana use are mild. Yet we don't ban those items, while we deny marijuana to seriously ill people who could get a lot of relief from it. This is misguided and cruel. "

Ever wake up feeling really hung over from a night of smoking out? Thought not. Throw in some heavy drinking, though, and you'll awake feeling like death itself (in fact, alcohol poisoning is a real risk). No one overdoses on marijuana because it has a negligible therapeutic ratio; that is, you don't have to use much to get the desired effect. Why then is one drug available from corner stores and allowed to be promoted at bowling tournaments, whereas the other you have to get from a pimply guy with a mullet you knew vaguely in high school, who hands you something dodgy-looking in a sandwich baggie? Quit the hypocrisy and make these intoxicants equally available.

Anyone familiar with pot knows about the "munchies." So, too, do people weak from AIDS and anorexia that use marijuana to put on needed weight. Cancer patients smoke pot to dispel the nausea they get from chemotherapy, and doctors recommend it for epilepsy, arthritis, migraines and glaucoma. Synthetic forms of THC such as Marinol are ineffective substitutes because they often put patients to sleep before they start to eat, which is the whole point. And administering a proper dosage is even easier: once they've smoked enough to have an appetite, or once their pain subsides, they put down the joint. The federal government should follow the lead of voters in Arizona and California and at least allow the medical use of marijuana.

The Response: We can address the availability of cigarettes and alcohol elsewhere; but surely,