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Legalizing weed too high a price to pay

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Legalizing weed too high a price to pay

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Do you think Marijuana should be legalized?

BY MARY CLAIRE MORRIS

Many Grady students support the legalization of marijuana. They support fun times getting high, dope and doobies, the great ganja, passin’ the joint around, 4:20 all day every day.  But these students are also supporting the legalization of a hazardous drug with harmful effects that are incredibly understated.

Recently, voters in Washington and Colorado, going against federal law, passed legislation to become the first states to decriminalize the recreational use of marijuana. These referendums have reignited a smoldering debate: should federal legislation be changed to legalize marijuana?

Marijuana is a dangerous, mind-altering drug. The same could also be said about alcohol and tobacco, both of which can be purchased by a person of legal age. Are we really going to benefit by adding a third harmful substance to the mix?

Where there is drug use, there is a direct correlation with higher crime rates but not because drugs are illegal. Scientific studies show that drug users not only harm themselves but also those around them. According to a 2004 survey of inmates in state and federal correctional facilities, 32 percent of state prisoners and 26 percent of federal prisoners said they committed their offense while under the influence of drugs.

Supporters of legalization claim users commit crimes to obtain drugs and that by legalizing marijuana the crime rates would go down. If marijuana were legalized, however, there would still be a black market for users under the age of 18 or 21. Drug traffickers would also continue to sell heroin, cocaine, PCP and methamphetamine. Should these be legalized as well?

On balance, the United States has certainly seen no economic benefits from alcohol and tobacco. Each year more than 100,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes, the third leading cause of death. Substance abuse and the resulting problems cost our country an estimated $200 billion each year, which is a far higher dollar amount than alcohol taxes collected during the same time frame.

Making marijuana use legal does not mean that its negative effects are any less dangerous. A study at Yale University found that marijuana causes brain damage. A study published in the American Academy of Neurology scientific journal found that memory, speed of thinking and other cognitive abilities weaken after use of marijuana over time. Marijuana also has been linked with depression, suicidal thoughts and schizophrenia.

Many studies have linked smoking marijuana to a variety of illnesses including lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, testicular cancer, bladder cancer and other cancers. Researchers from the French National Consumers’ Institute found that smoking three marijuana joints will cause you to inhale the same amount of toxic chemicals as a whole pack of cigarettes.

Why are we spending time, energy and money attempting to pass laws to legalize a toxic substance with so many unhealthy side effects? Instead of putting our efforts toward finding solutions to the big problems presently facing our nation, we waste our time trying to legalize a substance that leads to self-inflicted brain damage.

Marijuana is not dangerous because it is illegal; it is illegal because it is dangerous.

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Legalizing weed too high a price to pay