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January 23, 2013

Should Drugs be Legalized?: Essay


Thesis Statement
The industrial change in the mid of the eighteenth century introduced gradual changes in the mode of life of the people thinking and attitudes. It was not a change for good. The era of material progress brought prosperity for many but it fell with a heavy hand on spiritual values in which all the noble emotions and values of humanity are enshrined. This material progress had brought in many incurable evils; drug addiction is also one of them. 
Nobody can deny the fact that excessive use of drugs in society is a common thing. The Excessive use of drugs and alcohol may affect people in several ways.  It may hinder the coordination, and memory ability of brain. Thus heavy users of alcohol or other drugs may have problems with learning, reading, comprehension, verbal and math skills. It can affect the short-term memory of the users, sense of time and concentration. Some people also say that use of alcohol and other drugs increased their anxiety level. Medical researchers are of the opinion that, excessive use of alcohol and other drugs is especially dangerous, for reproduction, in the teen ages because it is the period of sexual and physical development.
The question whether the drugs should be legalized or not is a very serious question. It has been noticed that United States has the highest rate of suicide and violence among the twenty-six wealthiest nations of the world (Violent behavior in children and youth: preventive intervention from a psychiatric perspective, 1999).  It is also noted that alcohol and other drugs are widely used by students in schools. Dr. Vivian Faden, the acting associate director of the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research at NIH's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) says, “For many students drinking is seen as a rite of passage, as part of having fun, of lowering social inhibitions. Other kids may self-medicate with alcohol to reduce stress or cope with depression (Currey, 2004).
According to the Independent Student newspaper of Idaho State University, ISUbengal, “Already this school year, four college students - two in Colorado, one in Oklahoma, one in Virginia - have died after drinking so much that their bodies stopped working. One 19-year-old student at Colorado State died in a fraternity house after consuming 30 to 40 drinks. Her friends left her in an unused room, where her body was found 12 hours later (Franey, 2004).
In this report, I have tried to delve into the matter that should drugs be legalized by reviewing the advantages and disadvantages of drugs.

Background
Legalization of drugs is a very complicated and delicate matter. If we take the example of Marijuana, we can see that Marijuana was widely used in America during 19th century as a major treatment against many diseases. Marijuana was supposed to be the safest and most useful treatment in particular diseases. “A 1982 report by the National Academy of Sciences suggested that marijuana reduces intraocular pressure in patients suffering from glaucoma, which is the leading cause of violence in the United States”(Legalizing Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes). According to 1994 report of Australian Government, “There is reasonable evidence for the potential efficacy of THC in the treatment of glaucoma, especially in cases which have proved resistant to anti-glaucoma agents” (Legalizing Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes).
Before 1937, there were more than twenty-seven medicines, which used marijuana as a major content but Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 had prohibited the use of marijuana in medicines.  In 1970 Controlled Substance Act was passed in United States which categorized the prescription diseases into five different schedules. This act had placed marijuana in schedule one and described that marijuana is a drug, which has very high potential for substance abuse. Since then Marijuana was considered as very dangerous drug, but the present research has pressurized the government to legalize marijuana as a medicine.

Facts
Nowadays, a hot debate is going on whether to legalize drugs for medicinal use or not. Commission of Inquiry into the Non-medical Use of Drugs in its 1973 interim report has said, “The spread of the use of cannabis, particularly among the young, and the effects of the attempt to suppress it now call for a fresh look at the justification of the law, at the alleged personal and social harm caused by such use” (Interim Report-Commission of Inquiry into the Non-medical Use of Drugs, 1973, p.246).
The people, who are in favor of using drugs for medicinal purposes, argued that, “The dose that would actually kill man is very high indeed, really well beyond what would be achieved by almost any amount of smoking... The drug is really quite a remarkably safe one for humans, although it is really quite a dangerous one for mice and they should not use it” (Boyd, 1991, p.78).
Different studies have been conducted for the medicinal use of marijuana and other drugs and these studies concluded that:
·         There is no clear evidence found for the physical dependence on Marijuana (Solomon, 1966, p.83)
·         “The March 1999 NAS report found cannabinoid drugs promising for treating wasting syndrome in AIDS patients and recommended those patients unresponsive to conventional AIDS medications to smoke marijuana to combat the wasting syndrome” (Legalizing Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes)
·         “Marijuana is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known. No one has ever died from an overdose, and it has a wide variety of therapeutic applications. For example, relief from nausea and increase of appetite, reduction of intraocular (within the eye) pressure, reduction of muscle spasms, and relief from chronic pain” (Medical Marijuana Briefing Paper, 2002)
·         Marijuana helps the cancer patients by controlling the Chemotherapy treatment’s side effects like vomiting, nausea and lack of appetite
·         Drugs help to limit pain and tremors of Multiple Sclerosis patients
·         Drugs help the patients of Epilepsy by preventing epileptic seizures
·         Drugs can be used to treat chronic pains and it helps to cure pain caused by different injuries and other disorders etc
There are several positive points of using drugs as medicinal purposes, such as:
·         Patients who are desperately requiring drugs would have easy access to it
·         It limits the illegal use of drugs and only those people who want to use it for medicinal purposes would have access to it
·         Selling of drugs as prescription drug gives a great income potential to the government
·         Sale of drugs could be taxed and help government to use this income to reduce national debt
·         The legalization of drugs for medicinal purposes restrict the underage people to buy them
On the other hand different studies found many hazardous effects of drugs. Some of such effects are:
·         According to a review of several studies, “Regular marijuana use can lead to extensive airway injury and alterations in the structure and function of alveolar macrophages, potentially predisposing to pulmonary infection and respiratory cancer” (Tashkin, 2001)
·         The main ingredient of many drugs, i.e. THC is famous for suppressing many immune functions. For example, use of drugs affects the functions of such cells of the body, which are responsible for controlling different infections to the body. Use of drugs also increases the risks of certain infections like bacterial, viral and fungal infections
·         Frequent use of drugs may cause lungs complications and heavy users of marijuana may suffer from diseases like asthma and lungs cancer
·         Drugs caused temporary decrease in male hormone production. In females, it is responsible for decrease in fertility. THC changes the brain signals, which may affect the ovulation. Drugs are also injurious for the offspring of drugs addicted parents as it transmitted the incomplete genetic information to the offspring
·         A study on the dietary habits of marijuana users revealed that, “We found higher cigarette-smoking rates and higher consumption of sodas and alcohol, specifically beer, among marijuana users than among non-current marijuana users. Marijuana users also consumed more sodium, fewer fruits, and more pork, cheese, and salty snacks” (Smit & Crespo, 2001).
·         “Current marijuana use had a negative effect on global IQ score only in subjects who smoked 5 or more joints per week. A negative effect was not observed among subjects who had previously been heavy users but were no longer using the substance. We conclude that marijuana does not have a long-term negative impact on global intelligence” (Fried et. al., 2002)
·         Drugs drain the self-confidence from the personality of the user of drugs
·         Frequent drugs users often experience physical dependence on it. This means that their bodies and minds are used to function properly when drug is present in their bodies and minds    
·         Legalization of drugs for medicinal use would enhance the probability of making doctors a part of black market by handing out drug’s prescription to drug addicts
·         Patients start relying on drugs for pain treatment rather than proper treatment of the disease
·          It is completely unholy and prohibited in Christian faith to take intoxicating drugs
·         The medicinal use of drugs also opens the door for misusing of drugs
·         More and more people start using drugs and get addicted to it
·         Heavy users of drugs feel psychologically dependent to it
·         Drugs may cause a condition, which is called cannabis psychosis. This psychiatric condition is similar to schizophrenia
            People argued that drugs should not be legalized because they have addictive effects and they can easily lead people towards heavy use of drugs. According to the statistics presented by Columbia University Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, about 43 percent of people under age eighteen, who used drugs, become heavy drugs users. President of Addiction and Substance Abuse, Joseph A. Califano Jr., says, “Children who smoke pot are 85 times more likely to use cocaine than non-marijuana users” (Marijuana Briefs, 2000).
Conclusion:
All the above-mentioned discussion revealed both pros and cons of using drugs. Both sides have valid and strong points to support their decision.  In my opinion, it is fine to legalize drugs for medicinal use with some restrictions. First of all, age restriction should be followed while prescribing drugs and it would not be prescribed for people under eighteen years of age. Second, drugs would never be prescribed for pregnant women. Third, drugs would not be prescribed for people who are already Alcoholic or addicted to them.
I think medicinal use of drugs can be legalized after taking all the necessary precautions to minimize the negative effects of drugs. 

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