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Legalization of Marijuana: The Pros and Cons of the Drug


The debate revolving around the legalization of marijuana based on its therapeutic benefits is still ongoing. Although marijuana has been legalized in several states in the U.S., it is still being classified by the federal government as a Schedule I controlled substance. The table below gives a comparison of the pros and cons of the drug.

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Pros Cons
Medical marijuana holds therapeutic benefits, as research illustrates that it is effective in the treatment of various conditions, such as chronic pain and seizures. Furthermore, it is associated with a limited addictive effect, and the risk of death due to withdrawal is minimal (Oliveros, 2018). Marijuana does not pass as a medication as it has not been subjected to wisespread clinical trials, nor has it been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug administration (Hughes, 2015). Although research has been done on the plant, there still lacks high-quality data; hence, significant gaps, illustrating that the drug is safe and effective. Therefore, it has not been substantially evaluated for safety and efficacy.
Smoking marijuana has been associated with the relief of symptoms in less than a minute as it directly enters the bloodstream (, 2016). Symptoms relief often fades after one to two hours (, 2016). Furthermore, marijuana smoke contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other cannabinoids that, when delivered to the body, can increase the chances of respiratory infections, such as bronchitis and cancer of the throat and respiratory tract, which might even lead to death (Ghasemiesfe et al., 2019).
Numerous research has confirmed the efficacy of marijuana in treating various symptoms among cancer, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, hepatitis, and Alzheimer’s patients (Oliveros, 2018). As a result, it is recommended that medical practitioners be given unrestricted authority to prescribe cannabis and this should not be restrained by the law. Marijuana is used by millions of Americans at least once per month. Although clinical studies have substantiated the benefits of cannabis in slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, other research shows that frequent use can have an effect on the short-term memory, and impair an individual’s cognitive ability (Meier et al., 2018). Consequentially, this might result in long-lasting depression or anxiety.
Cannabis is comparatively safer than other medication, such as opioids, which are used to treat similar symptoms (Oliveros, 2018). The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, is shown to be effective even in its processed form, Marinol (Hughes, 2015). Therefore, there lacks a legitimate need for legalizing cannabis as medications containing THC are already present in the market.
Compared to other medications, for instance opioids, marijuana has relatively slight addictive effect (Oliveros, 2018). There is limited scientific data on the risk of addiction when using marijuana long-term. This is also compounded by the fact although the addictive effect might be slight, millions of individuals are using the drug every day, thus, heightening the probability of abuse and addiction.


From an evaluation of the pros and cons listed above, marijuana holds more harm than risk to society. This can be seen in both the scientific and societal aspects. Scientifically, although clinical studies have shown that medical marijuana to be effective in treating an array of illnesses, they have not generated enough high quality data suggesting that the drug is safe and effective. Moreover, most of the previous research has examined the effects of the drug short-term rather than long-term; therefore, the risk of abuse and addiction on the latter end of the spectrum is unknown. Lastly, the drug is not FDA approved. On the other hand, with regards to the societal aspect, millions of Americans are using marijuana, hence legalizing it will heighten the risk of abuse and addiction.


Ghasemiesfe, M. et al. (2019). Association between marijuana use and risk of cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Network Open, 2(11):e1916318.

Hughes, S. (2015). Medical marijuana: Where is the evidence? Medscape, Web.

Meier, M.H. et al. (2018). Associations between adolescent cannabis use and neuropsychological decline: A longitudinal co-twin control study. Addiction, 113(2):257-265.

Oliveros, P. (2018). Commentary: Medical marijuana can help reduce our opioid dependency: Physician. Orlando Sentinel, Web. (2016). What Are Some of the Pros and Cons Between Smoked and Non-smoked Medical Marijuana? Web.

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