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Ideas and Information in the Risk Society We all know how new ideas can change the world and these new depend on newly obtained information that can be based whether on researches or simply acquired during everyday life. New ideas always had lead to the progress, regardless whether they were useful for people. Sometimes new ideas inspired people to do new researches, which allowed discovering new knowledge that was beneficial. Today in our society, any new information can make drastic changes, because it spreads out around the world with blasting speed. Many people share their ideas and many have same views on a certain subject. However, usually one form of knowledge is privileged over another, which greatly influences views of people on a certain subject.
Thus, with appearance of new knowledge, which is based on facts and researches, people tend to change their views on the subject this new knowledge concentrates on. Over the last 30 years, many people in different countries became supporters of marijuana legalization. Idea of marijuana legalization was opposed by conservative information against marijuana legalization, which was based on beliefs of people on what a bad decision to legalize this drug would be because of negative consequences it will cause. In the beginning of century, marijuana was considered evil drug, which was dangerous. Today not so many people share such a belief. Many people suggest the marijuana is not harmful at all and is even useful according to latest researches; however, marijuana remains illegal.
There is enough evidence gathered that marijuana is less dangerous than other legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco. Nevertheless, since marijuana is not legalized, it is possible to assume that information proving the danger of marihuana is more privileged over the knowledge on marijuana being safe and useful, at least in our country. Around 1972, the Dutch government made a new policy that regulates sales of small amounts of marijuana. This policy seems to be successful according to statistics.
The Dutch have less drug use and abuse than the United States. Some people believe that marijuana should never be legalized, because it increases homicide rate, however real homicide rate for the Dutch is eighteen per one hundred thousand, which is one quarter the United States rate (Reinarman 103). Society has found no evidence marijuana causes murder (Reinarman 102 - 108). Marijuana's effects are nearly harmless. In fact, lethal overdose of marijuana is virtually impossible (Lowry 36). No one can say the same about alcohol.
President Nixon once said, There is little proven danger of physical or psychological harm from the experimental or intermittent use of natural preparations of cannabis (Ed. in Glasser). The author, Richard Lowry, of Weed Whackers agreed in his article by stating, it makes little sense to send people to jail for using a drug that, in terms of its harmfulness, should be categorized somewhere between alcohol and tobacco on one hand and caffeine on the other (Lowry 36). Not only is this drug practically harmless, but people enjoying this drug for many personal reasons. They smoke it to relieve stress, mellow out, or just have fun (Kalet 82). The British medical journal Lancet could not have said it better by saying, When used in a social setting, it may produce infectious laughter and talkativeness (ed.
in Lowry). The effects of marijuana do not affect anybody else except for the user. If the effects of marijuana feel good to the user and no one else is harmed, why should it be illegal to use the drug? Although dependence on marijuana is not common, some marijuana fighters believe that this drug is addictive. Some time during four or five years of heaviest use, one in ten users become dependent on marijuana. A study on lab rats proves this fact.
Two scientists tested caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana on these rats. The scientists had similar results. One of the scientists had a tie between caffeine and marijuana being least addictive, and the other showed marijuana being slightly less addictive than caffeine (Lowry 36 - 37). Many people are misinformed that marijuana is a far more harmful drug than alcohol and tobacco. If tobacco and alcohol are less harmful than marijuana, then why are hundreds of thousands of people each year killed by these two drugs? Marijuana very rarely kills anyone because lethal overdose cannot occur.
Marijuana's only clear health risk is respiratory damage, and cigarettes have done the same damage. Animal tests have revealed that extremely high doses of cannabis are needed to have a lethal effect. This led scientists to conclude that the amount of marijuana necessary to get a person intoxicated to the amount necessary to kill them is 1 to 40, 000. In contrast, the ratio for alcohol varies between 1 to 4 and 1 to 10 (Zimmer 138). Other studies claimed that marijuana causes brain damage, infertility, and immune system impairment. However, these studies were based on animal studies and used doses of marijuana 1, 000 times more than a human would normally inhale.
Never have these harmful effects have been found with humans (Zimmer 137 - 141). In fact, if marijuana smoking were dangerous, we would certainly know it; a significant segment of our population currently smokes marijuana recreational. No evidence of harm to people exists, despite millions of people who have smoked marijuana for years. Therefore, while we do need to fund more research on marijuana, especially research regarding medical uses, we certainly know marijuana is relatively safe when used responsibly by adults.
It is time for Congress to let go of the drug war and begin to deal with marijuana policies more rationally. Some drug war fighters argue that marijuana affects the brain similar to cocaine and heroin and somehow prepares the brain for harder drugs. Alcohol has the same action, but no one seems to argue that alcohol is a gateway drug. One study found that teenage boys who are tobacco smokers are ten times more likely to be diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder than non-smokers are. (Lowry 37) If the same were applied to marijuana, the drug war fighters would blow this fact out of proportion and say that this drug causes mental illness.
Contradictory of drug warriors beliefs, using marijuana does not cause violence or lead to use of other drugs. Most drug warriors believe in the gateway theory. This theory states that marijuana use leads to use of drugs that are more potent. Many times this theory has been discredited by even people against legalization of marijuana (Lowry 37). In 1994, only fourteen percent of marijuana users tried cocaine and one in one hundred marijuana users become regular users of cocaine (Lowry 38). Legalization re-asserts the truth that people are responsible for their own behavior (Eldredge 88).
Adults should have the right to consume what they want in private, especially in the land of the free. On the contrary, the government severely punishes people for their preference of marijuana over alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana is a part of nature and humans have the God-given right to use this plant as they wish. The government should not be interfering with personal decisions and preferences. By making marijuana illegal, the government is deciding for the people what is healthy for them. Decriminalizing marijuana causes more harm than good.
The war on drugs seems to be failing to achieve what it is meant for. Illegalizing marijuana violates civil liberties, causes social disorder, and increases crime and violence. The best solution to reduce these problems is to legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational use. There is enough evidence that marijuana is being safe, which supports idea that it should be legalized. Knowledge on this issue caused society to make marijuana legal in Netherlands, which shows that this type of knowledge was privileged, while in the United States the belief based on existing knowledge that marijuana should not be legalized dominates. However, it is not hard to notice that idea of legalizing marijuana in America is supported by many citizens, because information on the benefits of this is available, end such information can cause changes in opinions that exist in society.
Bibliography: Elderedge, Dirk Chase. Drugs Should Be Legalized. Drug Legalization. Ed. Scott Barbour. Current Controversies.
San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Incorporated, 2000. 84 - 88. Zimmer, Lynn. Marijuana Should Be Decriminalized. Drug Legalization. Ed. Scott Barbour.
Current Controversies. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Incorporated, 2000. 137 - 141. Kalet, Hank. Drug Policies Should Be Liberalized. Drug Legalization. Ed.
Scott Barbour. Current Controversies. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Incorporated, 2000. 80 - 83. Glasser, Ira. Marijuana Laws Should Be Relaxed. Drug Legalization.
Ed. Scott Barbour. Current Controversies. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Incorporated, 2000. 133 - 136. Lowry, Richard. Weed Whackers.
National Review 20 Aug. 2001: 36 - 38. Newsbank. Mosinee High School, Information Media Center. 21 Sept. 2001 web Reinarman, Craig. The Dutch Example Shows That Liberal Drug Laws Can Be Beneficial.
Drug Legalization. Ed. Scott Barbour. Current Controversies. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Incorporated, 2000. 102 - 108.
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