Marijuana should not be federally legalized

Jack Marker, page editor

As we inch closer to the midterm elections, one political party on the Minnesota governor’s ballot sticks out on the ballots: Grassroots, whose stated goal is to legalize marijuana. There is currently momentum in the world today to legalize marijuana. Nine states have legalized recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and over, and it became legal in Canada starting Oct. 17. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), “Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States, with 37.6 million users in the past year.” It might not be long before people all over America are using marijuana without fear of jail time. However, legalizing marijuana would bring greater problems than it is worth.

The first major problem with legalizing marijuana is its adverse health effects. According to the CDC, “[Marijuana] specifically [targets] the parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning, attention, decision making, coordination, emotions, and reaction time.” It is directly correlated with numerous mental health problems. A study by University of Sydney professor Wayne Hall found that there is a clear link between marijuana and psychosis and schizophrenia, especially for teenagers. Additionally, marijuana not only hurts an individual’s brain but also damages their heart and lungs. Marijuana leads to an increased risk of strokes and heart diseases. According to the CDC, “Smoked marijuana, in any form, can harm lung tissues and cause scarring and damage to small blood vessels.”

In addition to its adverse health effects, marijuana has severe long term social effects. Some people will retort this argument with: that is not how “high” people are portrayed in movies and television shows. However, these shows neglect to show viewers the true societal effects when one is consistently smoking marijuana. The National Institute of Health explains some effects of heavy usage of weed as being a “poor educational outcome with an increased likelihood of dropping out of school” and “diminished life satisfaction and achievement.” Teens who smoke marijuana are “60 percent less likely to graduate college and seven times more likely to attempt suicide,” according to the Lancet Psychiatry.

Furthermore, marijuana, with its addictive properties, is a gateway drug to more dangerous substances. “People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The American Addiction Center adds, “Marijuana is considered a Schedule [one] drug, which means that it has no recognized medicinal value while at the same time carries a high risk of abuse.” Given the lack of a useful purpose, “in 2012, over 950,000 people received some form of treatment for marijuana use,” the Addiction Center states. With the increase of usage, more and more people are becoming addicted.

Moreover, the legalization of marijuana would hurt people’s professional lives. It would damage somebody’s professional career as it creates a lack of motivation. A study conducted by the Imperial College of London found that long-term cannabis users tend to produce less dopamine, a neurochemical directly linked to motivation and reward. This lack of motivation would lead to less interest in their professions, which could ultimately hurt their careers. A study carried out by University College of London found that marijuana use reduces a person’s short-term motivation to work for money. In addition to this, Life Works, a non-profit which specializes in marijuana research, performed a study on productivity between those who recently smoked marijuana and those who did not. The study concluded that marijuana usage correlates with a decrease in productivity levels.

We can look at Colorado as a test taste of the legalization of marijuana. Since Colorado legalized marijuana, “[they have] seen an increase in marijuana related traffic deaths, poison control calls, and emergency room visits. The marijuana black market has increased in Colorado, not decreased. And numerous Colorado marijuana regulators have been indicted for corruption,” according to an article in USA Today. Stat News explains that advertisements for pot tarts, hasheesh cups, and cannabis gummy bears will become as common as the soft drink promotions targeted at the youth market. There is a definite correlation between crime and marijuana use as well. The Daily Signal revealed that almost 50 percent of Denver arrestees tested positive for marijuana. The legalization of marijuana has wreaked havoc on the medical system and law enforcement of Colorado. Colorado has shown us that the legalization of marijuana has detrimental unintended consequences. Do we really want this to happen on a national scale?

Some people believe that using marijuana is cool. However just because something is considered cool, does not mean that it should be legalized. We do not need the harmful effects that come with legalizing marijuana. Until science proves that marijuana is clearly beneficial, policy changes for federally legalizing marijuana in the United States should not be passed.