Marijuana is in the news lately. There have been efforts in various countries to de-criminalize marijuana. In Canada, the implementing guidelines for medicinal marijuana in the workplace was just released, and it cleared up a lot of things. It mentioned the responsibilities of the employers not to impede an employee who is using medicinal marijuana, allowing them to take their dose even during office hours. It also listed what the employee needs to do in order to be allowed to smoke marijuana in the workplace.
In other countries, there is still a lot of discussion and mixed signals about marijuana. In the United States, studies have shown that it can be an effective medicine against cancer and in pain therapy. There have been several states which have de-criminalized medicinal marijuana. However, Federal laws still state that marijuana is an illicit drug. This means that a person can use marijuana, but if he crosses borders, he will be penalized.
Marijuana’s main problem is its use as a recreational drug. It was first use as such and then later on researchers found it had medicinal properties. On the other hand, morphine along with other prescriptions drugs were first used for medical purposes, and then abused as a recreational drug. So far, it has been proven that these prescription drugs are very addictive and causes physical and psychological dependence. Cannabis on the other hand, is not addictive and has legitimate medicinal use. It just so happens that recreational users start with marijuana and end up with stronger illicit drugs.
This is the contention of some authorities. In some countries, drug addiction is not considered a criminal problem but is treated as a medical problem. So far, those countries have shown improvements in their fight against drug addiction. In terms of value for money, those countries are spending less, and treating more drug addicts. The United States has been too busy creating prisons and arming police authorities against drug addiction, and they are losing both in terms of productivity, drug dependence reduction and total costs.
In New Zealand, the Medical Association have shown in studies the benefits of legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. They have made their position known and have submitted a paper to the Law Commission. In the same light, the Law Commission has already proposed that marijuana should be decriminalized.
Besides the medicinal use, marijuana has had a bad reputation because it is an entry-level drug. Drug users usually first start with marijuana. After that, they move forward to other more potent drugs. Of course, prescription drug abusers start with something more potent, like vicodin or morphine, which were probably used in their pain therapy. These can be very addictive substances, leading to both physical and psychological addiction. In contrast, studies have shown that marijuana is almost non-addictive. Cigarettes, and coffee have been proven to be more addictive than marijuana. It has also been proven that sugar may be more addictive and have less benefits to a person’s health, compared to marijuana.
In terms of society’s use. De-criminalizing marijuana makes it trivial. The allure of doing something illicit gets thrown out the window. Most people get their first puff of marijuana because of peer pressure. They want to belong to a group, and doing something which is deemed illegal is part of the thrill. Take away that moment of illegality, and it is just a puff of a mild hallucinogen.