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Attitudes in South Dakota about Medical Marijuana: Recreational Use

It is not a secret that marijuana as well as other drugs are prohibited throughout the world. Only in some countries, cannabis is legalized: Jamaica, Netherlands, some states of the USA, Canada, Portugal, Spain, Czech Republic, etc. Thereby, the question of marijuana legalization is a topical one in other parts of the world. The essence of the issue difficulty is that there are too many contradictive opinions on whether the legalization of marijuana would be beneficial for society or harmful for it. On the one hand, the medicinal property of marijuana is a phenomenon that is not a secret for medical experts. On the other hand, the effect of marijuana legalization is still terra incognita in the aspect of usage increase, crime rate, and addiction. Moreover, using marijuana for both medical and personal purposes is considered an abuse of law. “The Justice Department has raided farms, shut down dispensaries, and prosecuted suppliers. It has sought to punish doctors who recommend marijuana for medical purposes” (Steinbrook, 2004, 1380).

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The debate over the Effect of Marijuana Use on Health

Nevertheless, numerous researches demonstrate the fact that the danger of marijuana usage is the lowest compared with other famous drugs. If to be more correct, the rate of death caused by marijuana is the lowest. Still, ignorant usage of marijuana may cause harm in different aspects of health. For example, scientists proved that the risk of a heart attack after a smoke of marijuana cigarettes is high in the first hour after it. “Marijuana increases heart rate by 20-100 percent shortly after smoking; this effect can last up to 3 hours” (NIDA InfoFacts: Marijuana, 2010). Another dangerous effect of marijuana abuse connected with lung diseases may be explained by the fact that compared with tobacco smokers, marijuana users “inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do” (NIDA InfoFacts: Marijuana, 2010). Some experts admit that social life can also be influenced greatly by using marijuana. They argue that according to statistical data, people who abuse marijuana have various problems connected with social life.

However, marijuana can be a highly important treatment for certain diseases. There have been continuous debates over the medical properties of marijuana. Some experts admit that there are no obvious benefits of introducing cannabis to the healthcare system. Still, others argue “that the cannabis plant contains active ingredients with therapeutic potential for relieving pain, controlling nausea, stimulating appetite, and decreasing ocular pressure” (NIDA InfoFacts: Marijuana, 2010). That is why its importance cannot be underestimated. Nowadays, two main trends in the introduction process of marijuana into medical service are observed. The first one is connected with general medicine. The principle of its usage is stated above. The second trend of marijuana medical usage is called recreation. It means that marijuana can be used as a method of relaxation and recreation, and it has huge therapeutical potential (Joy, Watson, and Benson, 1999, p. 99). Still, such therapy should not develop into cannabis abuse (Murray, Morrison, Henguet, and Forti, 2007, 892).

The aspect of addiction to marijuana is another topical issue. There is a preconceived myth according to which marijuana is a drug that causes addiction. “Marijuana is not physically addicting. Medical studies rank marijuana as less habit forming than caffeine. The legal drugs of tobacco (nicotine) and alcohol can be as addicting as heroin or cocaine, but marijuana is one of the least habit forming substances known” (Marijuana Myths). Cannabis is one of the drugs which do not cause any addition. In such aspects such terms as addiction and desire to have a relaxation are mixed. Nevertheless, it is rather difficult to define where the boundary between these two notions can be drawn. As a reason why marijuana should not be legalized some experts suggest that this drug is a getaway one. In other words, it means that marijuana is a step towards the usage of harder drugs. Still, recent investigations prove that it “does not suggest that the pharmacological qualities of marijuana make it a risk factor for progression to other drug use” (Joy, Watson, and Benson, 1999, p. 99). Moreover, about seventy-five percent of people who smoke cannabis do not even try harder drugs. On the contrary, the percentage of people who are addicted to tobacco and alcohol progress are more inclined to pass to another step of drug addiction, than marijuana users.

Comparison of the Danger of Marijuana, Alcohol and Tobacco Consumption

Marijuana legalization program opponents often claim that the decriminalization of cannabis will lead to the usage increase. They are especially preoccupied with problems which concern children’s marijuana usage as well as with the rapid development of mass marijuana consumption. Among other consequences of marijuana legalization, they see the possibility of a drug stimulating injurious behavior which may spread all over the country. Still, there are several facts, which contradict these facts. Firstly, these categories of people do not take into account, that such drugs as tobacco and alcohol are now decriminalized. Usually, people do not percept these goods as recreational drugs, as long as they are not prohibited. Still, the British medical journal The Lancet sorted out the top twenty of the most dangerous drugs where cannabis took the eleventh place, while alcohol and tobacco got the fifth the ninth respectively. Besides, alcohol had second place in the category of threat to others, and tobacco was in the third place in respect of drug dependence (The Top 20 Most Dangerous Drugs). Comparing degrees of marijuana and alcohol toxicity and addictiveness, Jack E. Henningfield, Doctor of Philosophy for the National Institute on Drug Abuse says that marijuana is less dangerous. Alcohol is indeed a more toxic drug, as long as “using just 10 times what one would use to get the desired effect can lead to death”. At the same time, one needs to take a dose thousands of times to die. Still, this figure is purely theoretical, as long as there is no recorded case of cannabis overdose. Moreover, long-term marijuana usage is less harmful than long-term alcoholic use; scientists, which research this sphere, usually connect it with adverse health consequences, including liver cirrhosis, various cancers, unintentional injuries, and violence (Facts on Cannabis and Alcohol). Firstly, though marijuana is accused of being a reason for lung cancer development, no documentary case indicates lung cancer in a marijuana-only smoker. (Kaufman, 2006) Secondly, while alcohol is the drug that stimulates direct intoxication-violence relationships, cannabis reduces violent desires during intoxication. Comparing marijuana and tobacco use, many scientists claim, that moderate smoking of cannabis is less dangerous to humans’ lungs than tobacco usage: “Like tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke contains several irritants and carcinogens. But marijuana users typically smoke much less often than tobacco smokers, and over time, inhale much less smoke” (Myths and Facts About Marijuana). Thereby, they take in less harmful substances and damage from cannabis smoking is lesser than from tobacco consumption.

Comparison of the Teens and Children’s Rate of Marijuana Consumption in the USA and Countries, where Marijuana is Legalized

Our government and executive powers spend a lot of time, money, and efforts to fight against marijuana consumption. At the same time, great sums of money earned on cannabis selling finance shady business. Still, laws against marijuana consumption do not work, as long as about 1000 million American people have tried it; among them, nearly fifteen million use it at least monthly. Among high school seniors, cannabis is known as an easy-to-get thing (Effective Arguments for Advocates of Taxing and Regulation of Marijuana). As long as the marijuana trade is fulfilled in the sphere of shade business, our government does not have any possibility to control it; at the same time sellers, such licensed spheres as the alcohol or tobacco trade have stimulus not to sell these goods to under aged teens. Still, marijuana sellers do not have any incentives not to sell cannabis to children or teens. Very often they sell are low-quality goods, which are more hurtful for consumers’ health. Still, governmental regulations can help society cope with this problem. This hypothesis is proved by the experience of countries where cannabis usage is already legalized.

In the Netherlands, for example, marijuana is sold in regulated establishments to adults who must show proof of age. As a result, according to a 2008 World Health Organization survey, the overall rate of marijuana use in the Netherlands is less than half what it is in the United States. Additionally, only 7% of Dutch teens have tried marijuana by age 15. In the U.S., as many as 20.2% of teens have tried marijuana by age 15, according to government estimates as high as 20.2%. (Meno, 2010)

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Economic Aspects of Marijuana Legalization

At the same time, there are still economic questions, which can be also taken into account while speaking about the possibility of cannabis decriminalization. For example, the State of California saved on more than one billion dollars thanks to the commutation of criminal liability for possession of an ounce or less of cannabis, which became considered as a citable misdemeanor instead of a felony. Money, which supports shade business, has to be controlled by official authorities. If drug sellers will lose their monopoly on marijuana keeping and selling, they will not have the necessity to deal in this sphere. Many researchers think that in this case government will be able to lay certain regulations on the process of selling cannabis and money will supplement the state budget. Speaking about the marijuana legalization reform, Madeline Martinez, an executive director of the National Organization for the Reform Of Marijuana Laws, Oregon chapter, says, that “This is a law that would allow the state to end the black market of marijuana sales, and it gets marijuana sales under the control of the state and the money into state coffers where, I believe, it belongs” (Saker, 2008). Many economists think over the idea of economizing funds, which are nowadays spent for measures that cannot be fulfilled. If the marijuana prohibition laws do not imply any sense, then why should the government spend so much money, which it gets from accrued taxes when there are so many important problems, such as the usage of hard drugs, for example. Declaring for such reforms, a senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies in the department of economics at Harvard University, dr. Miron thinks that “Replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of legal regulation would save approximately $7.7 billion in government expenditures on prohibition enforcement — $2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3 billion at the state and local levels” (Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition in the United States). Taking into account the research we have completed we may conclude that the majority of scientists who support the marijuana decriminalization program, consider that marijuana is less toxic, addictive, and hazardous to health than such drugs as alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana does not increase risks of lungs care and does not establish intoxication-violence relationships, in comparison to alcohol and tobacco. We may also add that according to economic observations, our government spends a lot of money on the marijuana struggle, while it does not have any sufficient effect. Nowadays, children and teens have more access to this drug in the USA than in countries where cannabis is legalized. At the same time, many economic observers claim that our country may save great sums by the means of taxing marijuana usage in the same way as drugs and alcohol. Moreover, this perspective also presupposes, that funds and powers which will be available after the reform, will be intended to fight against bigger and heavier problems, such as heroin usage. Besides, not only money is included in this helpless cannabis struggle; police efforts are also wasted while marijuana is still considered an “easy to get” thing.

Nowadays, social oppression towards the process of marijuana legalization decreased. “41% of Americans agree that marijuana use should be legalized” (Morgan 2009). Compared with the 1979 year the oppression decreased by fourteen percent. In other words, it becomes obvious that contemporary society become more and more ready for recognition of marijuana as a legal treatment. Speaking about social acceptance of marijuana legalization we cannot but demonstrate the voting process for providing marijuana a status of a legal treatment in South Dakota. According to the latest survey, one may see that the majority of people agree to accept marijuana both for recreation and medical purpose. Only 25 percent of interrogated people consider the usage o marijuana an immoral phenomenon (Table 3). Still, it is rather difficult to admit whether the majority of people would vote for the legalization of marijuana in South Dakota. The thing is that although the percentage of South Dakota citizens who consider the legalization of marijuana illegal and immoral is rather small, only the third part of the interrogated people has no fear about its effect. From Table 2 it is obvious that there are numerous kinds of fear which may prevent the legalization of cannabis in South Dakota. The strongest fear is an addiction as a result of the absence of critical thinking which is caused by marijuana abuse. Still, the majority of people do not see any negative in the process of marijuana legalization. It means the even though people are unsure about the safety of marijuana legalization eager to vote for it, which contradicts their attitude towards cannabis. From Table 3, which is also based on the survey, we may see that out of seventy percent of people who would come to voting only about twenty percents of people are against medical use of marijuana, and about forty percent do not see any beneficial factor of marijuana use for recreation. Thereby, we may analyze concluded, that a relatively low level of voting attendance, and rather a dubious attitude towards marijuana does not allow yet to legalize marijuana properly.


Table 1. Social Acceptance of Marijuana (Results of the Survey)

Social Acceptance of Marijuana
The question Yes No
Opposed to marijuana use for medical purposes 0 8
Opposed to marijuana use a recreation drug 2 5
The use of marijuana is immoral 2 6
Social Fears of Marijuana Legalization
Table 2. Social Fears of Marijuana Legalization (Results of the Survey)
Correspondence of Number of People Who plan to Vote and Their Attitude towards Marijuana Legalization
Table 3. Correspondence of Number of People Who plan to Vote and Their Attitude towards Marijuana Legalization (Results of the Survey)


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Kaufman, M. (2006). Study Finds No Cancer-Marijuana Connection. The Washington Post.

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Saker, A. (2008). Legal Pot Backer Sees Pluses for State, Businesses. Oregon Business News. Web.

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Steinbrook, R. (2004). Medical Marijuana, Physician-Assisted Suicide, and the Controlled Substances Act. The New England Journal of Medicine. Web.

The Top 20 Most Dangerous Drugs. (2008). Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, December 16). Attitudes in South Dakota about Medical Marijuana: Recreational Use. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2021, December 16). Attitudes in South Dakota about Medical Marijuana: Recreational Use.

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