What fuels our fear of marijuana so much that our children are given scare tactics and fakery to make them believe that the world will end if they try it? The legalization of marijuana will not end the world, it will free up the court systems, empty out jail cells, allow the use for medical purposes, and bring in part of the economy that is wasted on programs that lie about the effects the drug. Marsha Rosenbaum medical sociologist and author of Marijuana Is Not An Exceptionally Dangerous Drug For Teens wrote how:
Despite proclamations about the values of being ‘drug free,’ the American people and their children are perpetually bombarded with messages that encourage them to imbibe and medicate with a variety of substances such as alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and over-the-counter and prescription drugs. (32)
Although Americans try to self medicate them self, we are told that it is the illegal drugs that people are more addicted to, despite recent studies that show how more people are addicted to over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Tobacco is also a large part of the American culture that is shown to not only be deadly but addictive as well. With most of the against drug’s organizations, they do not bring to light the risks of tobacco, Jean Kilbourne the author of Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes The Way We Think And Feel, she believes that “the tobacco industry is in the business of getting children addicted to nicotine” (180). Although many believe this to be true of marijuana, most people do not suffer any physical dependence like those of tobacco products.
The similarities between tobacco and marijuana are astounding, but how one drug was deemed illegal, may have to do with where the money goes to further the debate on the Schedule I substance. Under the current law that classifies marijuana was having a high potential for abuse, and without any type of current medical use. By going just by those two reasons alone, we can begin to understand why the illegality of marijuana is unfair in comparison to tobacco. Richard Lowry is editor of the National Review and wrote Marijuana Is Relatively Harmless in his essay he writes of a study where “two researchers in 1991 studied the addictiveness of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. Both ranked caffeine and marijuana as the least addictive” (19). Tobacco is in a different league partially because it is considered a tradition where marijuana is not. The other main factor in marijuana being illegal could have something to do with the fact that tobacco is a main part of the American economy where marijuana, in its current state is grown out of the country getting in through smugglers and not paying for the right to import the goods. Advertising that glorifies tobacco also has a large part of tobacco being legal, Kilbourne’s research suggests that “tobacco advertising has two major effects: It creates the perception that more people smoke than actually do and it makes smoking look cool” (183). It is this same advertising by anti-drug groups that make marijuana seem to be a bad drug that should never be legalized. Although this may only be part of it the continued debate whether marijuana should be legal is being fought by many anti-drug warriors, whose backing might be funded by the tobacco industry it’s self.
Marijuana for medical purposes might be the beginning of the full legalization of the plant. The medical community has begun to get legalization for use of marijuana for patients when it comes to cancer, chemotherapy and for the nausea related to them. It also helps AIDS patients with weight loss that the drugs they are normally prescribed for them did not help. Before aspirin and other modern medicine as available doctors used marijuana to relieve pain and other symptoms that their patients suffered. Lester Grinspoon the Associate Professor Emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of Marijuana Has Medical Value wrote how “physicians prescribed it without much concern about overdosing or side effects” (37). When modern medicine was introduced and medical marijuana taxes were put in place doctors had no other alternative than to abandon the drug and move on to cheaper alternatives. But with the standards today and how medical marijuana laws are being passes in many states, the legalization is only a short time away.
In the end the legalization of marijuana might be far away but the uses of it for medical purposes are still there, with the fake facts of how dangerous this drug truly is. What we know for sure is that tobacco can be considered just as dangerous if not more for how it is destructive towards the body. The most endangered are our children, who we constantly consider to become problem kids when drugs are introduced into their lives. Lowery suggests, “The relationship between drugs and troubled teens appears to be the opposite of that posited by drug warriors-the trouble comes first, then the drugs [or in other words, it’s the kid, not the substance, who is the problem]” (18). When we find out how to change our culture so that drugs are not blamed for the problems of the people possibly we will be able to use marijuana to help us endure our lives.
***I wrote this paper around this time last year