As a kid growing up, you’re constantly told of the dangers of drugs, and since it is illegal, marijuana is a drug and therefore it is dangerous. Again, the “dangers” of marijuana can be traced back to the 1930’s and the negative propaganda that surrounded it to appease private interests and reinforce racial stereotypes; never on actual dangers to your health. In 1974, Dr. Robert Heath of Tulane University conducted a test in which lab monkeys were given thirty marijuana joints daily to test for harmful side effects. After 90 days, many of the monkeys started to die and the university reported that the monkeys had died from a mass dying of brain cells and they concluded that the consumption of marijuana destroyed the brain. The official test observations and results, however, were withheld from the public for six years until finally, in 1980, they were released to NORML (The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) due to a lawsuit NORML had brought to the university. Upon further investigation of the study, it was revealed that Dr. Heath actually pumped the equivalent of sixty-three joints via gasmasks into the monkeys everyday in just a five minute time frame; much more than the first reported thirty joints a day. The monkeys were reported to have died because of brain damage, but in reality they died of suffocation; when the body doesn’t get enough oxygen, one of the first things to start dying off are brain cells (http://www.jackherer.com/chapter15.html Accessed June 7, 2010). To this day, there has been no test like the Heath/Tulane study.
Marijuana, since its discovery, has been used as a recreational drug by many individuals. Marijuana has been always seen as a “safe” drug to use with no serious complications or side effects. Many marijuana users believe that it does not have serious side effects like cocaine, crack, and heroin. Many “weed-heads” believe that smoking marijuana is okay and it stimulates one’s brain activity. Since the 20th Century, marijuana has been prescribed by doctors for use to deal with the bad effects of having glaucoma and cancer. Marijuana is currently okay to use for medical reasons on a state government level, but is still illegal to use on a federal government level. But, the debate over marijuana usage has gained momentum in recent years, and there are about ten states that have now legalized the use of marijuana. About eighteen states, have lowered the punishment for using marijuana and have “decriminalized” the usage of the marijuana.
Since its creation, marijuana has been seen as more of a recreational drug, than a serious “hard-core drug” like crack cocaine or heroin. Many “weed-heads” do not believe that weed smoking is an addictive behavior or causes serious problem for daily users. Many individuals believe that marijuana should not be placed in the same category like heroin, cocaine, and crack. But, should be in the same category as smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. But, many marijuana users fail to realize that cigarettes and alcohol have bad side effects like any other addictive drug. But, the difference is that many people are making a lot of money from the usage of cigarettes and alcohol. Many states would like to legalize marijuana usage because, like cigarettes and alcohol, they can receive a lot of tax revenue from the sale of the marijuana. Like alcohol and cigarettes, the states can place hefty taxes on the sale of marijuana which would generate a lot of revenue for the government. Also, many individuals feel that like alcohol and cigarettes, marijuana may be detrimental to an individual’s personal health. But, marijuana usage would not affect society as a whole. Unlike, cocaine, crack, and heroin, which are drugs that not only affect the user, but their families and society as a whole. An individual would steal in order to get cocaine or crack, but a marijuana user is less likely to steal to get the drug.
Legalizing marijuana usage can be beneficial to society when it comes to the money that can be made from it legally. But, at the same time, legalizing marijuana can open the door to an individual becoming addicted to harder drugs like cocaine or crack. Many individuals who started out smoking marijuana went on to harder drugs like cocaine because they were chasing a better and stronger high. On another note, marijuana has been medically proven to help individuals deal with the side effects of having certain diseases like glaucoma or cancer. Marijuana has some major medical uses that can beneficial to society. But, whether to legalize marijuana usage or not, will continue to be a heated debate for years to come.