Marijuana vs. Legal Drugs

Summary and opinion by Mariama McGee. 

In 2012, Michele Leonhart, administrator of Drug Enforcement Administration refused to tell Congress about specific drugs like tobacco and alcohol being more physically and mentally harmful than marijuana. Not once did she mention the facts that show marijuana being far less harmful than other banned drugs.  

You cannot have a fatal overdose on marijuana and though it does have addictive properties, they are low compared to the drugs such as prescription painkillers. Though the small amount of addictive properties, it can lead to low job and school performance. The health risks associated with marijuana are little to none. A study in 2012 found that smoking a joint a day for seven years was not linked to any unfavorable effects on the respiratory system. Marijuana is ranked eighth on the panel on the most harmful drugs whereas alcohol is ranked the most harmful drug having tremendous links to crime, family and social issues. 

There is also no straight correlation between marijuana and a deadly illness. The only thing close would be symptoms of bronchitis that only a heavy smoker would experience. Marijuana's addictive properties are present but fairly low. It affects the pleasure centers in the brain so it can create a sense of psychological dependence. Though many might think that is something severe, only 9% of users develop a dependence rather than the 32% of tobacco uses. The more you smoke, the more it takes to get the affects you can originally feel when you first smoke. The symptoms of withdrawal can’t even compare to the unbearable physical symptoms of withdrawal that heroin and meth can give.

 One of the most common arguments concerning legalization is that marijuana is a pathway drug. It could not be even more false since tobacco and alcohol are the true gateway drugs. Tobacco and alcohol are the first drugs that minors try and from that, it leads to more. Even though 111 million American have tried marijuana, that does not mean that marijuana prompted them to try other drugs such as heroin and cocaine. 

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