To legalize or not to legalize: that is the question

Green+spiky+plant+%28marijuana%29

Picture of a marijuana plant.

Taylor Frick

The legalization of marijuana is something Americans have pushed for in years past. This point is often countered with the assumption of possible health risks, or that it can lead to a higher crime rate. It has even been argued that cannabis can act as a gateway drug, leading people to trying “harder” drugs. None of these arguments work because they are based on the negative stigma associated with the drug. Since these arguments are not backed by evidence, people blindly believe that the legalization of marijuana should happen. However, this is not the case. This legalization process could end up causing much more bad than good. 

One such reason is the effect weed has on children who are still developing. Even if there is an age limit put in place, legalizing cannabis is going to make it easier for young kids to acquire it. Healthychildren.org stated, “Youth who use marijuana regularly are less likely to finish high school or get other degrees, more likely to use other drugs, and more likely to try to commit suicide.” This means that legalizing marijuana could contribute to a negative effect on education in the states or cause a high population of the youth to develop severe mental health issues. 

Even if smoking marijuana doesn’t change a child’s personality or initiative, it might still alter their brain on a molecular level. Healthychildren.org went on to state, “New research shows that marijuana use during adolescence and young adulthood, when the brain is going through many important changes, can lead to permanent problems with memory, learning and thinking.” Using marijuana in any form as a child could cause problems in later development and have negative effects all throughout adulthood. 

The biggest reason cannabis shouldn’t be legalized is not because of health, crime, economy, or youth, but because it is a plant. This is something people often use to argue why it should be legalized, but the fact that marijuana is natural is actually one of the most dangerous things about it. 

The NBCI stated, “Unlike any other prescription drug used for medical purposes, marijuana is not subject to central regulatory oversight. It is grown in dispensaries, which, depending on the state, have regulatory standards ranging from strict to almost non-existent. The crude marijuana plant and its products may be contaminated with fungus or mold. This is especially problematic for immunocompromised patients, including those with HIV/AIDS or cancer.” 

Healthline.com also stated, “In people with weakened immune systems or lung conditions, inhaling smoke from weed that contains certain mold species can have serious health consequences. Fungi like Aspergillus, Mucor, and Cryptococcus can cause serious and even deadly infections in the lungs, central nervous system (CNS), and the brain in people with compromised immune systems.”

Mandy Denis*, a mother whose daughter was hospitalized for smoking bad marijuana said, “She had no true diagnosis, but the ER doctors said it was definitely an allergic reaction to the chemical makeup of marijuana.” Her allergies weren’t only to blame. Denis countiuned, “The ER doctors said that what she took was not regulated. That is the black market, street sale stuff.” 

The fact that most marijuana is grown without regulations means that there can be MAJOR oversights in the production process. If cannabis is legalized, it could lead to even more oversights than there already are due to the high demand. 

Overall the health benefits to marijuana are undeniable, but all the negatives it will cause to our society outway the positives. 

Names changed to protect privacy*