The Case for Legalization of Marijuana in Canada and the World
Imagine you have a crippling headache. A friend hands you a hand-rolled cigarette, and says, “Smoke this, and it will take away your headache, along with any other pain, or nausea.
It’s recommended by many doctors because it’s all natural, and has far less adverse side effects than other pain medication.
It also makes you feel euphoric.” Would you take it? Marijuana buds are the flower of the cannabis plant.
They are harvested, and sold – unaltered – to men and women all over Canada and the world, for both medicinal and recreational purposes.
The buds are taken, ground up, and either smoked, baked into food, or vapourized in order to affect the minds and bodies of those who benefit from it.
In Canada, there is federal legislation allowing marijuana for medical use. However, the criteria as to who can be prescribed the drug are very exclusive, and many people who benefit from the drug are forced to turn to street dealers.
Not only is buying and using marijuana from street dealers dangerous for the user, it also promotes criminal behavior and the illegal drug trade.
Through examining the facts surrounding marijuana’s medical benefits, current use, economic status, and other benefits, it becomes clear that marijuana should be legalized, legislated, and regulated by the governments, similarly to alcohol and tobacco.
Marijuana has many medical benefits. First, and most incredible is its ability to relieve pain. A testimonial from Alison Myrden from her article in Now Magazine states:
Ten years ago I couldn’t move from the waist down… I was taking 32 prescription pills and 600 mg of morphine… every day, enough to kill a horse, [my doctors] told me, and spending most days in a wheelchair.
I was diagnosed with chronic progressive multiple sclerosis. Doctors told me I would be in a wheelchair full-time by the time I turned 40… I am on the right path them prove them wrong, with the help of… cannabis.
Myrden had tried everything including experimental treatments using cocaine and heroin patches, until her friend begged her to try marijuana. Ten minutes after smoking the joint, Myrden was “singing along with the radio and making [her] bed for the first time in a week!” She felt no pain for the first time in a long time.
Stories like Alison’s are not uncommon, because marijuana helps treat more than just pain.
Marijuana elevates nausea in chemotherapy patients – and anyone else with a stomachache, for that matter. It is also used for inducing appetite in recovering anorexic and bulimics, among others.
In Canada, marijuana is used to elevate symptoms from a range of ailments including, among other things Cancer, AIDS/HIV, Multiple Sclerosis, Seizure Disorder, Bowel Disorders, Premenstrual Syndrome, Glaucoma, Muscular Dystrophy, Hepatitis, spinal cord injury, arthritis, and chronic pain.
Marijuana is recommended by many doctors because it is far less addictive, and much more benign than conventional drugs used to treat the same ailments, such as morphine. It is even safer than Aspirin. The therapeutic ratio of a drug is the ratio between its effective dose, and its lethal dose.
Aspirin’s therapeutic ratio is 1:20, meaning if the proper dose is 2 tablets, taking 40 tablets would either kill a person, or seriously damage his digestive system.
On the other hand, marijuana’s therapeutic ratio is impossible to quantify because it is so high.
Obviously, marijuana helps many people every day to live happier, more normal lives. It aids people to cope with and get through their diseases, and their lives.
But marijuana doesn’t only help people with pain or disease. Marijuana is used by a staggering number of Canadians, and law enforcers often look the other way to its recreational use. A UN study found that Canadians consumed more marijuana per capita than any other country in the world.
If every marijuana user in Canada was incarcerated, the country would not run.
From business leaders and politicians to minimum wage workers, and everyone in between, so many Canadians use it that business could not go on as usual if they were all in jail. The nation would be short-staffed. For this reason, among others, police often look the other way to recreational use of marijuana.
The most obvious example of this is the Freedom Festival. This protest, commonly known as the “Marijuana March,” is held in Toronto’s Queen’s Park every spring.
The protest is an all-day marijuana “smoke-in,” where marijuana users, young and old, come to smoke up, and then march for legalization.
This, of course, is followed by more smoking in the park. While this is going on, the police keep a perimeter, but never enter the park, and allow the protesters to smoke in peace.
Due to the large amount of marijuana users in Canada, marijuana holds a very interesting and powerful economic position. In 2016, Canada spent 464 million dollars on drug enforcement. These costs include policing, surveillance, trial costs, and incarceration expenditures, among other things according to a 2017 Report of the Auditor General of Canada on Illicit Drugs.
In Canada, approximately $1.8 billion was spent on marijuana in 2016. Marijuana has even replaced corn as the world’s leading cash crop.
Considering the numbers, legalizing marijuana just makes economic sense. Instead of spending millions, the government could be making billions on the regulated sales of marijuana through taxation, just as they do with cigarettes and alcohol.
Why should otherwise law-abiding citizens be forced to go underground and encourage criminal behavior and the illegal drug trade? Why should the free market be denied what it demands?
There are many people who argue against the legalization of marijuana, claiming that it poses serious health risks. These people are not wrong. Smoking anything – be it marijuana, cigarettes, or crack – is a hazard to your heath.
It is common knowledge that smoking can seriously damage a person’s lungs, trachea, and mouth. However, cigarettes, though they deteriorate one’s heath far more quickly than marijuana, are currently legal.
The nicotine found is cigarettes is highly addictive, whereas THC (the active chemical in marijuana) is not. For this reason, people smoke cigarettes far more often than they smoke marijuana, making them even more dangerous, yet they’re legal and marijuana is not.
It has been found that marijuana may increase intensity or frequency of episodes in patients diagnosed with depression or schizophrenia.
However, marijuana has never been found to cause mental disorders, only extenuate existing ones. There have been no conclusive studies linking marijuana to any other negative health effects.
Other nay-sayers of marijuana legalization say that it is a “gateway drug,” that leads users to use other, more harmful drugs such as heroin or methamphetamines.
However, it is not fair to make such a claim. Marijuana has been classified as an illicit drug, and because of that, has been lumped into the same category as the more harmful chemical drugs.
It is easy for a person, once he has broken the law by taking marijuana, to break it again, and try other drugs being offered to him by his marijuana dealers. Were marijuana legal, there would be a much larger separation between it and the other currently illicit drugs, and would be viewed similarly to alcohol.
When pro-prohibitionists have run out of other arguments, they often fall back on their last resort: “Marijuana is dangerous.” This blatantly uneducated argument is a blanket statement that has no real meaning whatsoever.
Marijuana is far less dangerous than any recreational – or medicinal – drug on the market. First of all, there are no recorded fatalities related directly to marijuana use. The only deaths caused by marijuana have been related to drug dealers having territory wars and fights.
Furthermore, there is no way to overdose on marijuana.
According to which US Government authority you want to believe, the lethal dose of marijuana is either about one-third your body weight, or about 1,500 pounds, consumed all at once.
Considering the size of an average joint is 0.4 – 1.0 grams , it is completely ridiculous, and rather impossible to consume this much through conventional methods.
If a person smoked without stopping once, for as long as he could, he would fall asleep long before he got close to smoking enough to kill him. If marijuana is illegal because it is dangerous, then alcohol should have been criminalized a long time ago.
Regular alcohol use is a far more serious threat to a person’s heath than regular marijuana use.
Alcohol poisoning is very common – especially among young teenagers. It is caused by drinking too much, and can be fatal. It is easy to drink too much, because as one drinks more and more, his judgment becomes severely impaired.
It is possible, and it happens very often that a person will drink until they vomit, and then continue to drink. This can easily lead to alcohol poisoning. Marijuana also impairs judgment, but not to the same extent. In addition, alcohol causes one to lose control of his body, and he becomes very clumsy.
This combined with lack of good judgment can lead to ignominy, or injury. Marijuana, however, does not cause the user to lose control of his body or balance. For these reasons, the marijuana user is far less of a danger to himself, and others than the alcohol user, and marijuana itself is less dangerous than alcohol.
There is therefore no reason to label marijuana as “dangerous,” if alcohol is not.
If marijuana were to be legalized, legislated, and taxed the same way alcohol is, there would be many positive effects. If marijuana was sold alongside the Crown Royal at the LCBO, there would be no reason for people to purchase it from shady street dealers.
This would have a huge impact on the real criminals – the people distributing marijuana and other drugs – and put an end to a lot of gang violence. If marijuana could be bought from credible sources, the users would be safer, and know that what they bought was clean, and not laced with some type of illegal drug such as cocaine or ecstasy.
Marijuana would also be much harder for kids to access. As with alcohol and cigarettes, marijuana would only be sold to those over the age of nineteen. Street dealers will sell to anyone – regardless of age – because it is illegal whether the customer is sixteen, or 64.
LCBO workers, however, are trained to examine identification from anyone who looks under 25. Much in the same way they do for alcohol, kids would need a fake I.D., or a friend who is of-age in order to acquire the drug.
The legalization of marijuana also opens many doors for money-making in both the public and private sectors.
The government would generate millions in sin taxes, and entrepreneurs would open marijuana lounges, head shops, and much more. There is only one way to find out what kind of businesses would spring up: legalize.
Not only is marijuana an incredibly effective medicine, it brings happiness and relaxation to the lives of a great number of Canadians. Its legalization would have many benefits, the most important of which – at the moment – are the economic ones.
In Canada’s current economy, money generated from marijuana related sales could really help. It is not at all being insinuated that Canada can smoke its was out of the recession, but the revenue generated from marijuana sales could very well be one of the stepping stones across the river of economic depression, bringing us one stride closer to the valley of prosperity.
So, after all of that explaining, you still have a splitting headache. Do you take your friends medicine?