Point: Legalization of Marijuana

Fourteen states have passed legislation decriminalizing marijuana for medical purposes, and Maryland is looking to soon become the 15th, with discussion buzzing around a bill that could potentially change how Maryland treats this controlled substance. Passing this bill would be a step in the right direction for Maryland, but it doesn’t quite go far enough. The stigma surrounding marijuana use is outdated and damaging to our country as a whole, and marijuana should be treated like alcohol, for the recreation (or medical use) of responsible adults.

Medical marijuana legalization is not just a loophole for drug abusers, but has real benefits for those with illnesses. Marijuana has been proven to relieve pain and nausea associated with cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and much more. And because tetrahydrocannabinol is a naturally-occurring compound, the side effects are often less harmful than many other pain medications.

An even more compelling reason for marijuana to be legal is that it’s just not that dangerous. Alcohol and cigarettes are both far more dangerous, and their legality is not up for debate in this county. Though there have been thousands of deaths related to over-consumption of alcohol, there has never been a reported incidence of marijuana overdose. Also, alcohol is more likely to increase violent behavior in individuals, while marijuana has the opposite effect. Cigarettes are much more likely to cause different cancers associated with smoke inhalation, as they are loaded with toxic ingredients. The main reason that these substances are legal, and marijuana is not, is that lobbying groups have a greater commercial interest in them.

But there could also been a corporate interest in marijuana. If it were to be legalized, the benefits to our economy could be great. Legal marijuana farms could be regulated by the government, and these could be taxed. Also, it would cut down on the illegal drug trade, as the government would know exactly where the cannabis was coming from, and could be home-grown and unlaced, something not guaranteed in illegally purchased marijuana.