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Since marijuana use has long been controversial, there have been spirited discussions about whether it should be made lawful. With their own well-informed opinions on the issue, medical experts, sociologists, politicians, and religious leaders have all weighed in on the debate. The argument over whether or not marijuana should be legalized, however, centers on how legalization will affect users' health. Additionally, some have argued that the legalization of marijuana will result in the growth of a drug-influenced culture; hence the reference to a society ridden with potheads.
While a significant number of arguments have been presented on the moral, medical, sociological and societal implications of allowing the use of marijuana; Canada Safety Council and Public Safety Canada has raised eyebrows since the world legalization has brought some jeopardy in the safety of people. Recently, they passed a message raising concern on people who drive under the influence of drugs and in this case marijuana was the primary focus. However, the organization still goes ahead to warn Canadian citizens that enforcement will come when the law is broken. On the medical part, the body also fears for future impaired drivers as implied by the State Farm Insurance in 2016. According to research, 44 percent of drivers have shown inability to drive safely when high. Marijuana lowers down the reaction time, and this brings out the difference between a narrow miss and a fatal impact. Moreover, the same organization still comprehends that opposing legalization is not a solution to the problem; but people being conscious and avoid any operation such as driving when under the influence of marijuana (morinvillenews, 2017).
This paper will present an argument for the legalization marijuana by its medical and economic implications to the society. The benefits that will arise from the legalization of marijuana are various; however, among these are the potential economic contributions that marijuana could present to the economy. In the recent past, Marijuana was a central focus of varied debates that sought to assert different viewpoints especially regarding the implications of its legalization. Consequently, Canada has enacted laws that legalized the recreational use of marijuana. However, Canada citizens doubt if the marijuana legalization laws will take effect come July 2018. As indicated by the Angus Reid poll, more than two-thirds of Canadians are in support of the legalization but are not sure if the provincial government is prepared to deal with the issue (Global News, 2017). Presently, many people argue out that through persistent lobbying and presentation of medical facts, marijuana no longer poses a threat to the social and moral well-being of its users. In fact, the reports that supported the legalization of marijuana observed that no deaths had been reported as a consequence of using marijuana.
In an economic perspective, the legalization of marijuana should be allowed because of the potential financial benefits that will result in the form of taxes, creation of employment and increasing wealth for the local communities. It has been estimated that Canada will be creating a $23 billion business opportunity if the legalization of marijuana is effected (CBC News, 2017). This translates to increased revenue for the governments for use in various projects and creation of employment; hence reducing the incidence of low G.D.P. The persistence of criminal enterprises that trade in illegal marijuana has thrived and continued to rise again and again because of the high value attached to marijuana and its potential to create wealth. It is evident that whether the government agrees or disagrees, a significant number of people, more so, the younger generations are users of recreational marijuana. In Canada, the law enforcement and medical authorities are expected to decide on a series of practical and legal before the laws take effect in 2018. Nevertheless, some questions remain unanswered; how will the enforcement agencies keep the drug away from minors? How will the renegotiation of drug treaties take place? (Newsweek, 2017).Therefore, though the drug agencies may disband one or two criminal enterprises that sell illegal marijuana, others will emerge to fill the gap. This is because the market forces of demand and supply will always triumph in the face of legal restrictions.
Marijuana is often perceived as among the addictive drugs that may have negative impacts on public health. Also, the increased use of the drug during teen years has been linked to psychological problems. Researchers indicate the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabinoid drugs. The exposure of THC causes regulation of a brain chemical known as GABA. Therefore, hyperactivity in the brain is caused being associated with a disorder known as schizophrenia (ctvnews, 2017). Drug addiction presents a myriad of social and economic problems for communities. While there is numerous literature in the public domain regarding the potential health impacts of using drugs, there is little knowledge regarding the processes and environment within which drugs are made. However, marijuana has been subject to numerous studies that have concluded it is safe to use for recreational and medical purposes. The problem presents in government and non-government institutions that continue to assert that marijuana is an illegal and harmful substance that should not be decriminalized.
The aim of the study is to demonstrate that marijuana does not have negative effects on the psychosocial and physical health of uses. An examination of various studies and literature on the impacts of using marijuana is expected to demonstrate that it is safe to use for both recreational and medical purposes.
The primary research questions for this studies are:
What are the impacts of using marijuana on public health?
What are the contributions of marijuana in enhancing public health?
What are the economic impacts of legalizing marijuana?
As a result of time and resource limitations, the research could not use primary sources such as interviews, observations or tests that could provide comprehensive quantitative data. Therefore, the study relied on existing literature to make the needed inferences regarding the implications of drug abuse on society.
According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, there has been a significant rise in the use of cannabis. The general population of 15+ recorded 12.3% in 2015 compared to 10.6% which was recorded in 2013, and the figure is still on the rise. Canada recently emerged to have the highest number of cannabis users. The figures show that cannabis stands as the second most used drugs after alcohol abuse. In this case, Canada divided its cannabis users into three salient groups. They include street-entrenched adults' drug users, street-involved youth drug users, and recreational drug users. (Ccdus.ca/news, 2017). In Canada, reports indicate that teens are amongst the persistent users of Canada. Four out of twenty teenagers use marijuana and have become part of their day in day out routine as they confess smoking several grams of cannabis every day. In this case, several poor outcomes including poor grades and motivation loss among teenage students have been reported albeit most of the teen believe marijuana is harmless (cbc.ca news, 2017).
Evidence shows that the majority of medical marijuana users administer marijuana daily and multiple times within each day, with average consumption ranging from 17 to 28 grams per week. Also, most medical users identified four or fewer puffs as a single dose, and some others reported using one joint as a single dose. Patterns of medical marijuana use are similar across medical conditions and symptoms. For example, those using marijuana to relieve pain and others using marijuana to control nausea use marijuana in similar frequencies and amounts. In Canada, medical marijuana will soon be in the online store in Canada's in one of the largest Canadian pharmacies. Medical cannabis, leaf, and oil will be available in Toronto. However, for marijuana to be sold in the drug marts, Health Canada will have the final say. If approved, the medical marijuana market in Canada will experience positive growth in patients plans contrary to what had been seen late 2016(Marijuana Business Daily, 2017).
Marijuana is classified as an illegal drug under the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Hilltimes, 2016). Growing marijuana is punishable by the law of up to seven years imprisonment, possessing marijuana up to five years imprisonment, and distributing and selling marijuana up to life imprisonment. Although marijuana is illegal for the general Canadian population, the Canadian courts ruled that there must be access to a legal source of medical marijuana to treat patients suffering from medical illnesses. The Canadian government had concerns regarding the consequences of allowing access to a legal source of medical marijuana as there was an absence of strong evidence of marijuana's safety and efficacy. Also, the introduction of medical marijuana laws has been previously associated with a higher prevalence of marijuana use among the general public, although this has been debated (The Washington Post, 2017)
Canadians were allowed to access Marijuana for medical uses by Health Canada under the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR). Those who were licensed through Health Canada were given options for access Marijuana; a) Purchase dried Marijuana supplied by Health Canada, b) make an application for a license to produce marijuana for personal use or c) find a designated person with a license to produce marijuana on their behalf. However, several years into the program, few Canadians had obtained MMAR approval, and many reported obtaining their supply of medical marijuana through illegal sources, which suggested that there were substantial obstacles with MMAR. Some of the problems with the MMAR included lack of information, product quality concerns, and a complicated application process.
In response to concerns of efficacy and concerns from stakeholders that the MMAR system was open to abuse, the Government of Canada introduced the "Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations" (MMPR) as of April 1, 2014. Currently, the only legal way to access marijuana for medical purposes is through commercial Health Canada licensed producers under the new MMPR. Individuals who are legally allowed to use medical marijuana must have a prescription from an authorized health care practitioner and be registered to order and receive dried medical marijuana from a Health Canada licensed producer (Medical Marijuana News Canada, 2017).
On the other hand, the new MMPR regulation may result in easier access to medical marijuana as physicians have control over who can use medical marijuana and physicians may be more flexible with whom they give prescriptions. The concern has been raised that the MMPR may be overly compliant allowing Canadians to be able to claim they need marijuana for medical purposes when in reality they want to use marijuana for recreational purposes only. The MMPR is similar to California's medical marijuana regulation where virtually anyone can get a prescription to use marijuana10. Also, illegal community-based dispensaries continue to provide marijuana to authorized and unauthorized users.
Since July 8, 2015, Canadian federal courts made a ruling that marijuana users had unfettered rights to the use of products derived from marijuana including "marijuana oils, extractions, and edible marijuana products and that licensed producers may produce and sell these forms of marijuana. Extracts have been used in various types of vaporizers, food products, sprays, and drinks. However, the higher concentrations of cannabinoids in extracts may also increase the risk of some side effects, including mental illness, although this is debatable (Reuters, 2016).
Medical marijuana laws have been implemented in a number of other countries in addition to Canada. Marijuana laws in the US are individually governed by each state. There are 24 states, including the District of Columbia, with medical marijuana laws and 11 states with CBD- specific medical marijuana laws (U.S. News, 2017). In particular, Minnesota's medical marijuana legislation allows patients with one of the qualifying conditions to use marijuana, but marijuana is only available in non-smoke-able forms. In the Netherlands, since September 1, 2003, medical marijuana has been obtainable through pharmacies and is produced under the control of the Dutch government (Dutchnews, 2017). Additionally, Germany, Italy, and Finland allow prescriptions for medical marijuana and import their medical marijuana from the Dutch government. The broader legal context of marijuana use, including decriminalization and legalization, also differs by country and may have implications for patterns of use and accessibility of medical marijuana. According to Mizingo (2012), the profit potential of legalizing marijuana amounts to billions in revenue for the country and state governments. The implications of a legal recreational drug that can earn these governments such hefty sums of money are irresistible.
Smoking marijuana is the act of inhaling and exhaling smoke that was produced through combustion of marijuana plant material. According to Hazekamp et al. (2006), marijuana can be smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes (joints), blunts (cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with a mixture of marijuana and tobacco), in pipes, or in water pipes (bongs). Smoking marijuana results in the fastest onset of action in approximately seven minutes, with higher blood concentrations of cannabinoids compared to other modes of delivery, which may contribute to its popularity. In a survey conducted by Hazekamp et al. (2006) medical marijuana smokers reported requiring around three grams of marijuana per day and requiring a higher number of intakes for effect compared to those who used oral administration.
This chapter examines the selected research methodology that was used towards answering the research questions. The choice of research methods and design will be described that will be used to collect data. Given time and resource constraints, the study adopted a qualitative approach.
There are three primary research methodologies. Quantitative research methods are often preferred since they are effective in the collection of quantifiable, accurate and reliable research data that is easily generalized or applied to larger population samples (Emerald publishing, 2017). However, a major drawback of this method is that it is often unreliable in answering the "why" aspects of a problem or issue.
The study adopted a comprehensive qualitative examination of the literature on the implication of marijuana legalization in Canada. Literature material was obtained from various databases including PsycINFO, CINAHL, JSTOR, PUBMED, MEDLINE, NRC and news articles such as Marijuana Business News. The search processes involved an elimination process where the relevance of each source and credibility were used to determine its usefulness for this research.
The Canadian government cannot win the war against drugs if it does not take affirmative action in as far as the legalization of marijuana is concerned. Though there are those who trade in marijuana as their sole product, a significant number of these criminals have various drugs in their possession. Therefore, the legalization of marijuana will not only save the drug enforcement agencies a significant percent of their resources that are allocated to combating the drug trade (The Globe and Mail, 2016).
According to research, it has been found that the use of marijuana has mild effects in contrast to the use of alcohol and cigarettes combined (NCBI News, 2017). This indicates that among the legalized substances; there are those that are more harmful to human consumption than marijuana. However, the marijuana is demonized not by scientific evidence but on moral grounds and perceived effects that have not been scientifically proven.
Therefore, the opponents of legalizing marijuana based their arguments on hypocritical notions that are unfounded and unproven. Furthermore, they should consider the impacts of alcohol and tobacco on human health and the number of deaths that have occurred; as a result of using these legal substances. Meanwhile, there are no recorded statistics that associate the cause of death to the use of marijuana. In this respect, it is prudent to state that marijuana as far safer for recreational consumption in contrast to other legalized substances that have continued to cause significant losses in human lives, property and degradation of social behavior (Medical News Today, 2017)
However, it is evident that the legalization of marijuana is merely a proliferation of the ideology that a product that has such profit potential as marijuana ought to be legalized for the benefit of the people. Thought the medical benefits of these drugs are indisputable when applied in a controlled medical environment, it is evident that the social and moral implications of marijuana have not changed. It remains a drug that has the potential to influence people to cause emotional, psychological or physical damage to others or themselves (Mental Health Daily, 2017).
However, this fact was not considered when the various state and county governments decided to legalize the drug. The fact that it has become the new age drug that has been legalized might jeopardize the lives of young people. In this case, young people are advised to keep away from using the drug. It is because marijuana is powerful when it comes to addiction although its withdrawal symptoms are not that severe (U.S. News, 2009).
The economic arguments presented to justify the legalization of marijuana include the assertion that it will reduce the incidence of poverty. Particularly, marijuana will result in the creation of employment opportunities where young people will have jobs in the growth and sale of the drug. However, these facts fail to consider the fact that though marijuana has not been found to have similar effects such as those of alcohol abuse, it has an impact on people's ability to reason. The outcomes of increased exposure to these drugs have not been accurately determined; however, a reduced mental capacity has been observed as among the outcomes of continued abuse of marijuana. Marijuana causes shrinking of the brain part addicted. This forces the brain to work overtime to compensate for the shrunk part (CBS News, 2014).
The economic outcomes of marijuana legalization are not disputed; however, the overall social and moral outcomes have not declined. Instead, they have increased since a larger percentage of young people are exposed to the drugs. While it was illegal to acquire marijuana before, it is had been easy to for old and new users to access the drug.
The various government's including Canada through their policymakers perceive marijuana as a revenue source that translates into taxable incomes and elimination of probation related costs such as the employment of additional drug enforcement officers. The legalization of marijuana is justified since law and regulatory agencies have been running in circles with drug cartels. Essentially, when one criminal enterprise was raided and eliminated, another one or more criminal enterprises emerged in its place. In this case, the legalization bill had vital information that was considered before its release. However, it never addressed both its distribution model and taxes that affect both producers and consumers (Lift News, 2017).
The eventual legalization of marijuana was inevitable especially if the arguments against the drug were based on its health implications. The mortality rate associated with cigarette smokers and alcohol abuse is significantly high, yet the deaths that are directly linked to the use of marijuana are negligible if any at all. The statistics indicated the link between the cause of death and marijuana do not exist. Therefore, the consensus is that marijuana is harmless.
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