The international community has not yet come to the consensus as to the legalization of soft drugs, and marijuana, in particular. Prior to discussing this issue, it is of the upmost importance for us to identify such notion of “soft drug”. According to a widely held opinion, it can be defined as any substance, which does not cause addiction and has no detrimental effects on mental and physical health of a person.
It seems that such definition is rather controversial in its core, because the very concept of drug implies certain degree of dependence (or addiction as it would be better to say). In addition to that, what is usually viewed as detrimental effect? In fact, marijuana may lead to memory impairments, or heart attack (Connolly, 24). Thus, it is hardly possible to call such impact beneficial.
Naturally, some can easily object to this statement by saying that in comparison with heroin, cocaine, and even nicotine, hashish is relatively safe (if such formulation is applicable in this case). However, the advocates of legalization appear to disregard one very important aspect: every substance, irrespective of its influence, may give rise to psychological dependence. The word “psychological” becomes crucial in this context. The person, who constantly consumes drug, cannot perceive the world in an adequate way. Without it, everyday life turns into miserable, boring, and senseless existence for him or her.
Certainly, marijuana may have a healing effect; and doctors often administer it as a pain-reliever or sedative. Furthermore, it alleviates depression, increasing the level of serotonin (Connolly, 26). The use of this drug for medical purposes is quite understandable but it is necessary to take into consideration that every substance can be either remedy or poison, especially if it is misused.
The ethical aspect of this problem is also extremely complex. People, who support decriminalization of cannabis, say that the government violates their privacy by prohibiting soft drugs. Their main point is that a person must have the freedom of choice whether to take drugs or not. At first, such viewpoint may seem quite plausible. Nevertheless, it should be borne in mind that such approach is appropriate only if we are speaking about the person who is fully aware of the consequences of his or her actions. Probably, we should not make any generalizations because otherwise we can forget about such age groups as children or teenagers.
Many sociologists state that substance abuse among teenagers can be ascribed to high availability of drugs. The main problem is that they can be easily purchased even in high schools. The government can make drugs even more accessible by legalizing marijuana (Gerber, 61). Naturally, in such counties as Netherlands or Belgium, people under age cannot legally buy drugs, but any law or rule can be evaded or broken and surely, teenagers will find the way to do it.
Another aspect that should be discussed is the impact of marijuana on academic performance. In many public schools, students cannot meet educational standards, simple because they find more entertaining pastimes than studying, especially in concerns inner cities, where soft (and hard) drugs are more accessible. Educators are crying against legal status of cannabis or any other soft drug, fearing that in the near future the majority of young people would be grow into the generation of ignoramuses. It does not mean that every person who smokes marijuana is ignorant or in any way backward. Such statement would certainly be an exaggeration, but a teenager, not able to form his conclusions, may easily give preference to drugs but not to studies.
As it has been mentioned before, the supporters of legalization place emphasis on the freedom of choice. Such philosophy, though it is seemingly specious, may be very cruel. For example, it completely disregards the influence of marijuana on the generation unborn. Recent researches, which have been conducted in this field, prove that hashish may result in several birth defects, especially in the long term (Gerber, 82). It stands to reason this information still requires thorough examination, but such hypothesis cannot be entirely rejected, otherwise we may just turn a blind eye to our children and our future.
It is often argued that people, smoking cannabis are almost bound to switch over to hard drugs. In my opinion, such viewpoint is rather prejudiced, and there is no factual evidence, proving that it is really so. Very often it depends on the persons character: if he or she is looking for new sensations, than such scenario is very probable.
Therefore, we can arrive at the conclusion that marijuana should not be legalized for the following reasons: first, its impacts on physical and mental state are not thoroughly examined. The statement that hashish is almost harmless is rather disputable. Secondly, marijuana has a baneful impact on a person’s intellectual development. Apart from that, decriminalization of soft drugs will make them even more available to children and teenagers, who would undoubtedly find it much easier to purchase this drug. Finally, marijuana smoking may lead to severe form of addiction, for instance, to heroin or cocaine.
Judith A. Nadell, John Langan, Eliza A. Comodromos. “The Longman Reader”. Addison-Wesley, 2007.
Rudolph Joseph Gerber. “Legalizing Marijuana: Drug Policy Reform and Prohibition Politics”. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004.
Sean Connolly. “Marijuana” Black Rabbit Books, 2006.