Discussion: should be legalised and for which purposes. In

Discussion: Since the bill of 2015, which resulted from the E-petition to legalise marijuana, there has been a huge surge regarding the argument whether Marijuana should be legalised and for which purposes. In the category: the effect of Cannabis on health, it is widely accepted that there are numerous drawbacks concerning legalisation, on the other hand, there is plenty of research which suggests there are benefits. Furthermore, there is another argument which considers whether the ethical issues (primarily that people are deprived of this ‘alternative medicine’ which could relieve symptoms of numerous illnesses) and whether these ethical issues outweigh the hazardous effects of the smoke and the implications this can have on a person’s health. The final part which I will be considering are the economic and social issues which arise in the debate.  Health issues: The argument which is commonly used by the government against legalisation is the one regarding the disadvantages in terms of health; in particular, Psychosis – it is heavily considered as a  (a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.) This condition is largely associated with marijuana use. Currently in many countries, the scene is dominated by ‘Skunk Weed’ (JourneyPure, 2015), which is There is evidence to suggest that smoking cannabis can harm both physically (in a biological way) and mentally (in a psychological way). To begin with, Borreli (2015), notes that smoking marijuana more than once per week can reduce sperm count by up to one third in males, furthermore if cannabis is used alongside other recreational drugs it can lower sperm count by up to 50%. Additionally, even if the woman has recently smoked marijuana, the THC can alter the sperm and ultimately make it less fertile. Even though this appears to be quite bad, and poses a threat on society as a whole, there are counter arguments to explain these bodily changes which result from Marijuana consumption. Firstly, a factor which could explain the lower fertility rates is the lifestyle of cannabis smokers; the general consensus is that people who use the drug live a less healthy lifestyle, and as a result of this unhealthy lifestyle (such as eating in excess due to stimulated appetite when using the drug). As a result the lowered sperm count (and other biological correlations) may not have been directly caused by consuming the drug. A second factor which could also explain these changes could be tobacco. Smoking cigarettes has also been found to lower fertility rates, so perhaps the use of tobacco as a supplement with and to weaken the ultra-potent skunk and as Charlie Lyons stated ‘it is impossible to buy anything else’, which makes it more difficult to get the potential benefits without facing the drawbacks from the class B drug due to the high THC levels.  However, Greenfield (2002), tells us that ‘there can be damage to neurons’ due to the use of cannabis, however this is only from given evidence and has not been accepted,   Ethical issues and Government regulation: Although Greenfield (2002) (a person against the legalisation notion) concedes that cannabis is not fatal, other sources beg to differ; Emerald Coast (2015) suggests that it is actually possible to overdose from cannabis consumption. However the type of cannabis which is being referred to is not pure marijuana, Emerald Coast is referring to laced marijuana, in particular a fentanyl-laced version of the drug. Although this means the drug being consumed is not solely cannabis and this could be the reason for overdoses, most of the consumers who use laced marijuana are probably unaware that it is actually laced. Laced marijuana is very common and also poses many threats such as worsened breathing and heart problems, increased aggression, further emphasised hallucinogenic and psychotic effects as well as memory loss. So although many conditions are correlated with cannabis smoking, this suggests that some of the drawbacks could be caused by, or the effects worsened and enhanced by, the chemicals and other drugs used to lace marijuana. Other drugs which are commonly laced with marijuana, from the likes of methamphetamine, heroin and even cocaine, are known to be highly addictive, and also dangerous, so not only could this explain many side effects and conditions, it also provides reasoning for addiction to the drug. Marijuana is described by Szalavitz (2010) as being psychologically addictive, yet not physically addictive (there are no withdrawal symptoms) but the addition of addictive drugs laced with marijuana, could explain many dependencies to the drug. Although the dealers may see the addition of these chemicals as a harmless ploy, which just means their customers may be more frequent, it is more dangerous and effects more people’s lives. This is a reason in itself for legalisation – government intervention in this black market would lead to a regulated product, which would mean a drug free from being laced: with less harmful effects and possibly a less potent drug (due to the removal of the harder drugs used to lace marijuana).   Clark (2000) weighs up the restrictions against the medicinal necessity, so it is understandable to be wary of some of the adverse effects such as a lack of coordination, rapid heartbeat and some short term memory loss. In the grand scheme of things such effects are not the biggest contributing factor to the government’s stance. The real issue is whether the harmful effects of the smoke are outweighed by the health benefits. The American government’s reasoning against legalisation begins with the idea that by legalising the drug it becomes seen as acceptable and even good for the user, which sends the wrong message out especially to minors – this argument is logical and definitely a key reason why marijuana should not be legalised. Another reasons why the American government are against legalisation is due to the lack of research done on the drug concerning safety and for other information on the drug, however this reason is flawed; as the US government, the UK government and many other governments are reluctant to fund these long term research projects. For example, the US government required that the national institutes of health carry out trials to do with cannabis in America, however they rarely grant permission to do such research, so in essence the government are responsible for the lack of research, but they require research to be done in order for the drug to be considered for reclassification, decriminalisation or legalisation.  The final reason why the government in the United States are against legalising cannabis is the idea that it is a gateway drug. This conception has been largely related to the idea of using marijuana; Dupont (2016) tells us how cannabis has ‘proven to be a gateway drug’, however this is not a universal opinion, as during the parliamentary bill of 2015 Peter Lilley, told the house of commons that it was not a gateway drug. Despite the report which was completed for the White House by the Institute of Medicine in 1999 which is noted by Clark (2000) suggesting that it isn’t a gateway drug, the statistics which he gives would suggest otherwise – people who smoke marijuana are 85 times more likely to try cocaine, despite 5 out of 6 marijuana smokers never trying cocaine. The fact that a marijuana smoker is that much more likely to try cocaine makes it seem as if the drug is a gateway drug, however this source is quite old so may not be as temporally valid. During the parliamentary bill of 2015, it was announced that cocaine and heroin addicts had increased from 1000 in 1971 to 320,000 in 2015, throughout the same period cannabis use has also risen, so there may be a correlation to an extent, however there must be other reasons for this dramatic increase in addiction rates to hard drugs due to the only moderate increase in marijuana usage rates. However this is where the stance of it being an alternate medicine becomes complicated, there has been no proof that it could work as a better medicine than any other legal treatments, on top of this it is known to also cause harmful side effects. However it ‘violates the physician-patient relationship’ when it is legalised for medicinal use only, as patients have the right to be aware of all available treatments, so it is unethical to a moderate extent to not make it available for all, to whom it could benefit. Furthermore, the main ethical question for the government is whether the toxic side effects from smoking marijuana outweigh the treatments and remedies which can cure and relieve pains. On the governments behalf it can be seen as almost sadistic as they are refusing to allow people relief from ‘unnecessary pain’, not only this but the lack of research makes it seem disinterested in researching a potential treatment. On the other hand it is understandable that the government do not wish to send the wrong message out to children and that they are in fact possibly acting for public health if the effects are actually as toxic as they are portrayed. It is obvious that there are risks involved but if the government legalising the substance, it would mean that using the drug is done so out of choice, therefore, with the correct education on the drug, they are aware that they are using it at their own risk. If compared to the prohibition in America, from 1920 until 1933, a similar pattern can be seen; as a result of the drug being illegal, it is used in more potent forms. In America it was illegal to consume alcoholic beverages with alcoholic content greater than 1.28%, as a result beverages were sold in the black market with a higher alcohol content than was common prior to the prohibition, and much of this alcohol was tainted. Similarly in the last few generations, cannabis has become much more potent as a substance and often laced. Many people died as a result of the prohibition in America each year, and more issues are being linked with the super potent cannabis which is circulating currently. So in this respect, government regulation of the drug, similarly to alcohol, could be hugely beneficial by preventing addictions and other side effects from arising. Hooton (2016) acknowledges the negative psychoactive effects of THC within the drug, so in this way he is agreeing with Greenfield (2002), however Hooton’s (2016) article explained that the government actually conceded that marijuana does have a medicinal benefit as found by GW Pharmaceuticals research. Nonetheless, cannabidiol (CBD), a compound that is a part of the cannabis plant – which has been proven to have a restoring role on physiological functions, is found in a part of the plant which does not contain THC. In essence, CBD could be used for medicinal and recreational purposes, without the negative psychoactive effects of the THC. So there should be no reason why parts of the plant containing CBD and no THC should be illegal, just as it is legal to possess cannabis seeds. As the part of the plant free from THC does not cause the negative psychoactive effects, and can be used as a remedy or treatment, it appears unjust that this part of the plant is illegal due to its much lower harm compared to that which is seen on the streets, but also compared to alcohol. Greenfield’s (2002) main argument as to why the United Kingdom should not legalise cannabis is that the country should not be seen to have a drug culture and lifestyle. However, Single (1989) suggests that legalisation leads to no significant or noticeable increase on usage rates, so overall this suggests that legalisation would probably not create any more problems than it already does with its legal status. Single does however continue to discuss how legalising cannabis would probably see an increase in usage among adolescents, which is exactly what Greenfield (2002) fears; as she believes that it distracts young people from real issues. So, legalising the drug could have severe consequences due to the large rise in usage rates among adolescents. As the brains of young people are still growing and developing until early adulthood, and as a result could leave severe impairments on these people’s brains. Single (1989) tells us that the drugs illegal status does not stop people using it, and he believes that by legalising the drug, more focus can be put towards resolving the situation on hard drugs. It is easier said than done, as there are costs to legalising the drug, in terms of health, but also in a monetary sense; which is explained in the next section.   Economic and social issues:  A billion pounds per year could be sourced from the taxation of cannabis sales according to Glenny (2016) and a further £1.5 billion could be saved from inmate costs (this money could be reinvested into communities, and state owned resources, as it is all government revenue). He states that violent gangs and terrorist organisations receive funding through the drugs market, which they are dependent on to feed their crime. So in essence by legalising marijuana it could hugely reduce crime, as it would weaken the need for a black market. (I still think a small black market could exist as minors and those not eligible to purchase the drug would not be able to accumulate it through a government established procedure.) This could potentially lead to a reduction in gang crime and therefore make the country a safer place. Furthermore terrorist attacks could be reduced (however this relies on the drugs being legalised on a more international scale), but it is still a possibility. The current classification creates difficulty for the police force, especially in London, as they are struggling to keep enough officers on patrol to enforce this law. This law is so commonly broken, that police forces across Britain, for example in Durham, are turning a blind eye cannabis use according to Evans (2016). If the drug was legalised, the police could focus on more important issues such as countering terrorism and focusing on policing harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin which have much larger consequences. So in this respect, legalising cannabis could hugely benefit the economy. Glenny (2016) states that as well as a huge financial prize, overall drug consumption could be lowered, if the outcome is the same as what is being seen in Portugal and Switzerland. However it is not all positive according to Single (1989).  Social and economic costs are implied to occur according to Single (1989), in particular, he suggests that despite no overall increase in usage rates, there will be a surge in adolescent usage. Perhaps due to the inhalation of the marijuana smoke and potentially tobacco smoke, various health problems could arise such as an increased amount of lung cancer cases, or due to the brain not being fully formed during adolescence, we could see a rise in the severity or in the commonness of psychosis related illnesses. The primary reason against legalisation given by Single (1989) mainly comes down to the increase in adolescent usage; with the health concerns relating to the drug, it is a very fair point, however he does point out some benefits. Firstly, he states that after legalisation, attitudes towards cannabis will remain unchanged, which is a good thing as it means that people are still aware of the risks despite the legal nature. Also, he suggests that there will be a huge decline in arrests made, which will obviously be beneficial as it will both reduce crime and less taxation will need to be devoted to prison funding. However what should be considered is that this is a relatively old source so the information given may not reflect the economic and social circumstances today as it did when the journey was published.  However this idea that there could be a financial cost (Single (1989)) is further weakened by Morris (2015), as despite his claim of a ‘small impact’ on NHS costs, as there would be a cost on the NHS of £112 million (the £128 million cost minus the £16 million saved). However this could be justified by the savings of the courts (£24 million), the police (£18 million) and millions more pounds saved elsewhere. This is further encouraged through his estimated £500 million to £800 million yearly taxation on the drug. This extra revenue could be spent on public sectors, and on education not to use harder drugs. Even the serious drug offense rates would drop as more people would be able to use the legal market. However, this source does not suggest that there are no issues with cannabis. Firstly, he suggests that there can be ‘long-term adverse effects’ for those consuming the drug under the age of 16, so similarly to Single (1989) there is a consensus that usage in adolescence can bring about undesired side effects. Additionally, the article suggests that money could be lost due to a fallen productivity, due to the drug making a person lack motivation, it could cost many hours of work (overall) and therefore a large amount of money; however this is expected to be at the lower end of £0-£3 billion. Overall there is a sense that legalisation could lead to large tax revenue with, little adverse effects on the economy or s

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