THE PROS AND CONS ABOUT LEGALIZING MARIJUANA Mainstream vs. Alternative Media; who do we believe? The Journal of Media Studies Writer Discussion of the legalization of marijuana brings up two main issues, those who are pro- marijuana and those who are anti- marijuana. These issues have been covered by both mainstream and alternative media, mainstream being pro, and alternative being anti. These two factions have been arguing over this issue in the halls of justice for many years. Because most of the American society is mainly exposed to only mainstream media, they are not aware of other factors of legalizing marijuana that alternative media covers.
The problem caused by this lack of exposure, is that the public may be deprived of the truth, and may be led to believe facts that are not true. Marijuana and Medicine Both pro and anti- marijuana groups have discussed whether or not marijuana can be used for medicinal purposes. Mainstream groups do not believe that there are any convincing reasons to make marijuana a treatment to sick patients. Their position is that marijuana can have harmful long-term effects. The Anti-Legalization Forum explains that some of these effects are: impairment of the immune system due to the inability of T-cells to battle off diseases, delaying puberty in both males and females, and unhealthy and smaller children born to women who used marijuana during pregnancy. The Drug Enforcement Administration believes that since marijuana is not accepted by any American health associations, there is no reason to legalize the drug.
They think that the main reason why pro marijuana advocates use the medical use argument is because the uninformed public can be easily convinced to support the movement. Simply not enough evidence proves that marijuana can be used medically (Claim V). Unlike the D.E.A., lobbying groups such as the Cannabis Action Network and the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, believe that marijuana is a beneficial herb, and not a harmful drug (ICLU). Alternative media sources, such as “Marijuana As Medicine,” state that marijuana can be used as medicine for: nausea, appetite stimulation, relief from vomiting, reduction in spasticity, glaucoma, epilepsy, anxiety, depression, asthma, multiple sclerosis, stimulation of the immune system, Aids patient and cancer patients. For victims with AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis, smoking marijuana is believed to help reduce emesis, suppress vomiting, and stimulate the appetite. People with multiple sclerosis are convinced that smoking marijuana also reduces the intensity of their spasms.
“Marijuana As Medicine,” a Cannabis Action Network pamphlet, states that, “Two highly qualified and experienced ophthalmologists have accepted marijuana as having a medical use in treatment of glaucoma.” When taken, parts of cannabis lower intraocular pressure in the eye. There are rumors that marijuana suppresses the immune system. “Marijuana Myths” dismisses this belief because the myth was based on studies where the experimental animals were given near-lethal-doses of cannabinoids, and these results have never been repeated on humans. In fact, two studies displayed that the immune system may actually have been stimulated by the use of hashish and marijuana. On the other hand, a separate alternative source stated that marijuana (Delta-nine-THC) does possess an immunosuppressive effect. Marijuana shuts off some cells in the liver, instead of stimulating them.
The effect is only temporary and goes away rapidly. According to “Marijuana As Medicine,” Approximately 30% of all prescription drugs can be replaced by THC, so pro- marijuana groups lead to believe that one of the reasons why the drug is not legalized is because it would take the profit away from currently used drugs. These groups suppose that since no one has ever died from marijuana use, it must be safe. We can already see the different myths that people read and get confused about. The one thing that pro- marijuana groups agree upon is that “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man” (Marijuana As Medicine).
Marijuana and Crime Another issue considered by the mass media is whether marijuana has an effect on crime or not. As written in the “Anti-Legalization Forum,” the D.E.A. believes that drug use contributes to crime and violence. Many police officers say that criminal activity is not caused by dealers, but by those that are under the influence of the drug. A study showed that among males (18-49 years old) those who used cannabis were ten times more likely to commit violent acts than non-users. Anti marijuana groups look to the example of gangs, after the repeal of Prohibition, gangster activity had not decreased.
Experts are positive that legalizing marijuana would only add to the burden of criminal, health and social services. “There is no denying the fact that drug use changes behavior and exacerbates criminal activity” (Claim I). “Hemp for Food” claims that marijuana supporters believe that the only criminal activity caused by marijuana is done because of the illegal status of the drug, and not because of any influence that the drug may have on users. They think that legalization would eliminate black market activity. In Holland, marijuana is legal and so far, the Dutch crime rate has declined and not increased as one would anticipate (87). Supporters of the legalization of marijuana say that the United States government can profit from legalizing marijuana because they can tax the drug.
A study done by Vera Rubin, of the Coptic study, found no links of cannabis to criminal behavior. She said that smokers and non-smokers had identical extroversion scores and work records. There was no proof found that marijuana impairs motor skills, so she believes that large doses of marijuana cut short one’s motivation to work (86). Marijuana and Behavior Behavior is altered by using marijuana. The Medical Post states that “marijuana has always been depicted as producing a lethargic, mellow, laid-back effect rather than acting as a stimulant.” A study was done on young, male marijuana users to show any signs of stimulation.
These participants engaged in antisocial behavior. The doctors concluded that these drugs could possibly disturb social interactions. Anti- marijuana groups feel that legalizing drugs encouraged non-users that drugs are acceptable (Anti-Legalization Forum Claim III). “Hemp for Food,” an alternative source printed that subjects in a Jamaican study described marijuana as having the effect of making them smarter, more energetic, happy, and more conscious. They believe that the drug produced an overall sense of well-being and self-defense.
The subjects used it as a work motivator (86). The implication for legalization is that the drug has different effects on different groups of people, so we are not able to predict outcomes for individuals (Now Research). Marijuana and the Brain Mainstream media believes that marijuana produces flat brainwaves. “Marijuana Myths” asserts that the Partnership for a Drug-Free America ran an ad that tried to display this belief. A few years ago they made a commercial that first showed a normal brainwave, then they showed a second brainwave that supposedly belonged to a 14-year-old marijuana user.
It was a flat brainwave that tried to show that the brainwaves or a drug user is the same as a comatose human being. ABC got the group to admit to lying, yet they still ran the ad. “Marijuana Myths” wrote about a study that was done to show that marijuana causes damage to the brain. The study was thrown out because of its insufficient experiment. There were too many criticisms, particularly because the study was done on only four monkeys.
Real studies on humans do not show any damage to the brain. In actuality, smoking mari …