The main objective of this study is to look at the problem of legalizing marijuana in the United States from different angles. This is done in an attempt to reach an objective consensus on this issue, or at least outline the range of problems and issues that need to accompany this discussion. The problem of legalizing marijuana is in fact multifaceted and requires a plurality of opinions in the formation of one’s own. Therefore, the paper will largely focus on the ethical aspects of legalization, the impact on young people, and other issues that certainly arise in such a discussion.
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The popularity of marijuana at the moment is not only a generational and political issue but also an economic one. Due to the global spectrum of issues involved and the changes that legalization can have on all spheres of public life, one can say that the problem of legalization at the moment is truly colossal. The sale of cannabis is organizing itself into a connected and very large industry, which, like any new large producer, brings change.
In this case, the changes are not only economic but also ethical since the ideas that have accumulated over decades are changing. Hemp farms are currently not only promising but also extremely profitable business, which causes unnatural fluctuations in the economic market. Moreover, among the spheres of human life, it is necessary to take into account the ecology, which also suffers damage due to the unnatural excess of farms. In the modern academic debate, the question of the negative impact of the gigantic growth of the cannabis industry on the environment and climate has been raised for several years.
Over the past decades, the debate over the legalization of the use of marijuana in the United States has become extremely expanded. Marijuana and its recreational use are legalized in just five states, while in other states this substance still seems to have a slightly more dubious legal status. In general, medical use of marijuana is legal in the vast majority of states. At the moment, the marijuana market, according to analysts’ forecasts, is the most promising in terms of profit, which is expected to only grow in the future.
However, the very discussion of the status of this substance in public discussion has acquired, on the whole, significantly less hostile intonations than in the 20th century. The analysis of newspaper reports over the past forty years shows that, in general, journalists tend to be neutral in articles about the legalization of cannabis (Kim & Kim, 2018). Interestingly, conservative newspapers are more negative while liberal newspapers are more supportive of marijuana use. In general, statistics show that more than half of Americans, according to opinion polls, are in favor of the adoption of a law on free trade in marijuana (Wang, Haynes, Besharat, Le Lait, Green, Dart, & Roosevelt, 2019).
Moreover, this figure is constantly growing, but this does not guarantee the adoption of this law at the federal level. There are negative effects, which are expressed in particular cases and on the life of society as a whole, which do not yet allow to completely resolve the issue of legalization completely in the affirmative.
The legalization of medical marijuana for recreational purposes is questioned primarily because of the impact on adolescents, which is recorded as negative by the overwhelming majority of studies (Hammond, Chaney, Hendrickson, & Sharma 2020). Attention should be paid to a survey conducted among American teenagers that confirmed fears about the possible impact of marijuana on consumption and addiction to other drugs.
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Teens using marijuana were also more likely to use crack cocaine and heroin in the period of twelve months. Thus, marijuana should be perceived in the context of a drug capable of prompting the use of heavier drugs that are completely illegal. Another study has documented an increased occurrence of road traffic incidents involving cannabis-affected young men (Wang, Haynes, Besharat, Le Lait, Green, Dart, & Roosevelt, 2019). Thus, the lack of control over the sale of marijuana, especially among young people, cannot be realized without considering the many complicating circumstances.
In addition, one should not turn a blind eye to medical research within the framework of clinical psychiatry in which there is a connection of marijuana with a number of significant mental or nervous disorders. In the presence of hypersensitivity, genetic predisposition or daily abuse, there is a huge risk of psychosis (NIDA, 2021). Marijuana, among its negative effects, can also induce paranoia, anxiety, loss of short-term memory, loss of interest, or loss of judgment. All these negative symptoms characterize this substance as ambiguous and potentially dangerous.
On the other hand, federal legalization of marijuana has its own therapeutic benefits. After the legalization of cannabis in most states, the number of prescriptions for opioid analgesics has dropped sharply, according to observations of discharges from the state medical program MedicAid since 1993 to 2014 (Liang, Bao, Wallace, Grant, & Shi, 2018). It is easy to conclude that given that MedicAid serves the poor, the opioid crisis for the poor seems extremely problematic (Wong & Lin, 2019). Thus, the legalization of marijuana can serve not only as a lever for the use of other drugs, but also help to avoid their use in difficult social or psychological situations. This is one of the examples where the legalization of marijuana is actually a double and ambivalent issue.
The popularization of this market industry and its transformation into a full-fledged industry brings not only environmental or economic turbulence, but also raises problematic ethical questions. In essence, the issue of legalization is both political and generational, and according to many sources, it was the politicians of the liberal wing who adhered to it in the affirmative (Lancione, Wade, Windle, Filion, Thombs, & Eisenberg, 2020). What was originally a support for a small and only developing business turned into a huge industry. There is speculation that legalizing marijuana or easing drug policies is the government’s way of overcoming the financial crisis (Gill, 2019).
Thus, support for this business at the moment on such a colossal scale seems excessive. The ethical problem also lies in the imposition of a tax on the formerly shadow market (Carnevale, Kagan, Murphy, & Esrick, 2017). Thus, the very role of the state in this scheme turns out to be extremely controversial, especially considering the fact that it is still fighting the illegal distribution of marijuana.
In conclusion, it seems necessary to mention that the federal government plays a less significant role in the legalization of marijuana than the micro-level of individual states. Legalization took place rather as a very gradual process, taking place not only in open politics and at the level of law but also in the collective consciousness. Each state currently has its own strategies for the regulation and circulation of marijuana; this substance is completely banned in any form only in the state of Nebraska.
However, all the benefits and therapeutic benefits of cannabis must be understood with the full danger of the full availability of this drug taken into account. The state must find a way not to divide marijuana into state and illegal but rather to spread a real understanding of all the risks that can come with recreational use among young people.
Alharbi, Y. N. (2020). Current legal status of medical marijuana and cannabidiol in the United States. Epilepsy & Behavior, 112, 107452. Web.
Carnevale, J. T., Kagan, R., Murphy, P. J., & Esrick, J. (2017). A practical framework for regulating for-profit recreational marijuana in US States: Lessons from Colorado and Washington. International Journal of Drug Policy 42, 71-85.
Gill, S. (2019). Budding marijuana industry meets climate & environmental crisis: A call to legislative action. Oil and Gas, Natural Resources, and Energy Journal, 5(4), 661-670.
Hammond, C. J., Chaney A., Hendrickson, B. & Sharma, P. (2020). Cannabis use among U.S. adolescents in the era of marijuana legalization: a review of changing use patterns, comorbidity, and health correlates. International Review of Psychiatry, 32(3), 1-14. Web.
Kim, H., & Kim, S. (2018). Framing marijuana: How U.S. newspapers frame marijuana legalization stories (1995–2014). Preventive Medicine Reports, 11, 196-201. Web.
Lancione, S., Wade, K., Windle, S. B., Filion, K. B, Thombs, B. D., Eisenberg, M. J. (2020). Non-medical cannabis in North America: An overview of regulatory approaches. Public Health, 178, 7-14.
Liang, D., Bao, Y., Wallace, M., Grant, I., & Shi, Y. (2018). Medical cannabis legalization and opioid prescriptions: evidence on US Medicaid enrollees during 1993–2014. Addiction, 113(11), 2060-2070.
NIDA. (2021). Is there a link between marijuana use and psychiatric disorders?. Web.
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Wang, G. S., Haynes, C., Besharat, A., Le Lait, M.-C., Green, J. D., Dart, R., & Roosevelt, R. (2019). Characterization of marijuana use in US college students by state marijuana legalization status as reported to an online survey. The American Journal on Addictions 28(4), 266-269. Web.
Wong, S., Lin, H. (2019). Medical marijuana legalization and associated illicit drug use and prescription medication misuse among adolescents in the U.S. Addictive Behaviors, 90, 48-54. Web.