The debates over whether recreational marijuana should be legalized provide various arguments that were propounded by both supporters and opponents. The legalization of the mentioned drug means not only to fully resolve its trade and use but also its support from the state, which will have the right to impose taxes and control its quality. This topic is important as it can help resolve the problem – reduce the costs of combating drug addiction and harm for the whole society. This paper will focus on identifying advantages and disadvantages of recreational marijuana legalization based on an interdisciplinary approach offered by Allen Repko. The use of the above approach can be justified by its clear structure and the integration of the literature, which is essential to answer the stated question. Although drug addiction may increase, marijuana legalization will allow for the historical resolution of the problem, improved psychological state of people, better criminal justice, and adding billions to the economy.
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Identifying Relevant Disciplines
There are several disciplines that may be considered in terms of the legalization of recreational marijuana in the US. First of all, the history of the specified issue should be clarified to understand its impact on the society. Second, one may state that psychology, criminal justice, and economy should be discussed as the areas that are closely related to marijuana consumption, both legal and illegal.
Starting with the 1890s, there are notes proving the use of pot and hemp for recreational purposes such as relaxation and clothing. After the Mexican Revolution, the influx of immigrants essentially increased marijuana consumption rates. In 1931, 29 states prohibited the use of this drug due to its potential damage to both consumers and the whole society. Furthermore, several regulations were introduced as the measures toughening the use of marijuana. The period between 2000 and 2010 is characterized by the fact that many states tried to decriminalize the use of marijuana in recreational terms.
Although many recreational marijuana users claim that smoking marijuana calms them, often, the opposite effect may be observed. In fact, the most common side effects of marijuana smoking are severe anxiety and panic attacks. The evidence shows that about 20-30 percent of recreational consumers after smoking marijuana experience similar problems (“Should Recreational Marijuana be Legalized?”). The most vulnerable are people who have never taken marijuana before. The dose of the drug also matters: in low doses, it can have a sedative effect, while, at higher dosages, the substance can cause severe anxiety.
However, still little is not known about marijuana’s potential to increases the risk of developing a constant anxiety disorder. The studies in which recreational consumers have been studied indicate that many of them have suffered from anxiety, and it is difficult to determine what the basis of such a condition is. The possible negative options are as follows: deviation in choice (anxious people are more likely to use marijuana), addiction phenomenon (marijuana smokers feel worse when they stop using it), and other causes (genetic vulnerability or predisposition).
In this case, it is reported that daily use of marijuana can actually increase the symptoms of depression or cause its development. For example, the study including 1,601 students shows that those who at the age of 14-15 years used marijuana at least once a week had twice the risk of developing depression after 7 years (as cited in Dey and Medhi 75). The above findings were revealed compared to those who have never smoked it, even after excluding other physiological and social factors. Young women who used marijuana every day had five times more chances of developing symptoms of depression 7 years later than their non-smoking marijuana peers.
Taking into account that the recreational consumption of marijuana will benefit the US, it is possible to anticipate that the legal distribution of drugs will be useful to establish control over drug addicts. The possibility of monitoring people who use drugs will be expanded, which will allow doctors to consult and conduct examinations of dependent patients. In turn, this will lead to a reduction in the number of overdoses and a decrease in mortality rates (Caulkins et al. 78). Also, the legalization will serve as an excuse for reducing the number of crimes related to drug trafficking
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The economist Stephen Easton calculated that if marijuana were legalized, this industry would generate billions of dollars as revenue. The above estimate takes into account the amount of money it will take to produce and sell the drug and the approximate number of consumers (Banys 15). Given that the illegal marijuana industry costs as much as $ 36 billion, the estimate cannot be exaggerated. Another statistics that supports this indicator of income generation is that in California, a marijuana harvest is worth $ 14 billion annually (Banys 17). In this connection, marijuana will not only legalize income but also create additional jobs. For example, the creation of the hydroponic marijuana growing supply chain is likely to provide more than 100 jobs with each new store that it opens.
The attempts to legitimize the use of marijuana in the United States began in the 1970s. Since then, arguments have been put forward in favor of both positions. On the one hand, the supporters often quote revenues as one of the main reasons why marijuana should be legalized. The opponents, on the other hand, speak about the negative effects that addiction to a drug can present. With the legalization, it is possible to increase the consumption of the drug, which is also a cause for concern. In the past few decades, Washington and Colorado have legalized the recreational use of marijuana (Ferner). Most states decriminalize drugs for medical purposes and replaced imprisonment and criminal responsibility by fines and drug education programs.
To date, little research has been conducted on how marijuana use affects patients with a bipolar disorder. Many people with the mentioned disease use marijuana, and according to numerous data, it can provoke manic episodes and accelerate the phase change (“Should Recreational Marijuana be Legalized?”). However, it is not yet clear whether the risk of developing the bipolar disorder in people who use marijuana is increased. Due to the small amount of data obtained during the research of depression, it is not possible to confidently specify the link between depression and marijuana use. According to similar reports on anxiety states, many consumers of marijuana describe an improvement in mood. The experimental studies in animals suggest that the components of marijuana can have an antidepressant effect. Although such studies do not prove a cause-effect relationship, the ratio of consumed doses and effects seems to be of a particular interest. Thus, additional studies are needed to focus on the benefits and consequences of the recreational use of marijuana in mental disorders. Their results will help clarify some questions about the interaction of marijuana, the brain, and the human psyche.
Drugs will cease to be the cause for criminal activity leading to numerous arrests of people. At the same time, marijuana, as a rule, is the first step towards other more powerful drugs. A significant number of heroin or cocaine addicts began their addiction with marijuana (Anderson and Rees 225). Having legalized marijuana, more and more people may join this path. Currently, it seems that the illegal status of marijuana keeps many people from smoking cannabis as they do not want to break the law. Another area to discuss is composed of traffic accidents and marijuana use. If marijuana is legal, many law-abiding citizens will be intoxicated with marijuana while driving a car and may fall into an accident. Thus, it is evident that in terms of the criminal justice, both pros and cons exist, which points to the need to weight both arguments. Nevertheless, one may note that the proponents of marijuana legalizations present more valuable reasons.
Force methods are aimed at increasing the costs of drug traffickers, who have to raise the price due to increasing risks. It is argued that such an impact on this sphere is not fruitful as demand for drugs is not elastic. People who suffer from drug addiction will buy and consume drugs even in the event of a strong increase in prices, and drug use will not decrease with an increase in prices. The first obvious advantage of the legalization of recreational marijuana is that the cost of its implementation is much lower than the cost of fighting by force. In the US, 26 billion dollars were spent to combat this issue in 2013. It should be added that due to the state control, it will be possible to establish taxes on drug trafficking, and there will be an influx of additional revenues to the budget. These funds can be used to implement social programs to assist vulnerable populations who need help. However, it is necessary to determine exactly how the introduction of taxes will affect drug use in the course of researches.
The uncertain status of the marijuana business frightens potential investors, and only several banks are ready to finance this direction. Nevertheless, in a short period of time, a lot of companies and startups leading marijuana business may appear on the market, actively looking for sources of financing and investors. In addition to the production and sale of recreational marijuana, the spread of plant cosmetics and food products based on cannabinoids may be noted as the areas of economic development.
To conclude, it should be stressed that the main purpose of recreational marijuana legalization is the minimization of its harmful influence on the society. In adopting such a policy, people should think of supporting the security of both drug users and the rest of the population. Thus, one may conclude that despite all the disadvantages of legalizing drugs, it is able to assist the society in resolving the problem of drug addiction or at least contribute to reducing its current critical fashion in the US. The use of the interdisciplinary approach allowed understanding the given issue in an in-depth manner, thus contributing to the overall resolution of the problem.
Anderson, D. Mark, and Daniel I. Rees. “The Legalization of Recreational Marijuana: How Likely is the Worst‐Case Scenario?” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, vol. 33, no. 1, 2014, pp. 221-232.
Banys, Peter. “Mitigation of Marijuana-related Legal Harms to Youth in California.” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, vol. 48, no. 1, 2016, pp. 11-20.
Caulkins, Jonathan P. et al. Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, 2016.
Dey, Reema, and Deepanjali Medhi. “A Clinical Study of the Prevalence of Psychiatric Comorbidities among Patients with Cannabis Dependence.” International Journal of Scientific Research, vol. 7, no. 4, 2018, pp. 74-75.
Ferner, Matt. “World’s First Recreational Marijuana Sales License Issued in Colorado.” Huffington Post. 2013, Web.
“Should Recreational Marijuana be Legalized?”, ProCon, Web.