Recently almost every time I talk to a person who has gotten into trouble with marijuana (hereafter referred to as weed because it’s shorter and easier to spell) up comes the debate about legalizing it. I have to say that the argument would be much better made by non-offenders and even better by non-weed-users but this has never, so far been the case.
The pro-weed group argues that everybody does it anyway and it’s less harmful than alcohol. The anti-weed group says everybody doesn’t do it and it is a drug that leads to the use of other drugs and has harmful long term effects.
The pro-weed group says that by criminalizing weed we unnecessarily spend taxpayer money to punish people for a harmless activity. Weed smokers are not criminals. The anti-weed group says that rather than reducing crime we’d be encouraging drug use and eventually pay the price with more drug abuse and subsequent criminal activity.
The pro-weed group says that weed makes you more creative, relaxed and mellow. The anti-weed group says weed makes you unmotivated and lazy. The pro-weed group says that weed has many positive medical benefits. The anti-weed group doesn’t disagree but says that so does morphine but we don’t sell it in small quantities for recreational use.
The pro-weed group says that the drug is not addictive and the anti-weed group says that research has shown that the regular use of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) can be habituating and psychologically addictive. There are, in fact, people who become addicted to weed. I know this because I have met more than a few and any regular weed smoker knows that it can be difficult and sometimes impossible to quit.
From my view, the states that have allowed medical use of cannabis have had more than their share of legal issues with proliferation of grow-houses and the continued spread of non-medical use. In other words, legalizing medical use hasn’t solved the drug abuse problem. In fact, medical use has created a whole new area of potential abuse by those claiming to have legitimate problems to get the drug and either misusing it or selling it. Decriminalizing quantities “for personal use” may be a better solution from a law enforcement perspective but not from a drug treatment perspective.
I think the legalization of marijuana issue is a much more complex problem than it appears at first glance. To me the liabilities far outweigh the benefits.