Antilegalization of Marijuana

Dear Congressman, I am honored to be writing to you on such a significant
topic of national concern. Average citizens are annoyed and just plain fatigued
with the drugs and crime problems in America. These upright citizens, that
contribute to the growth of American society, are being told that legalization is
a reasonable alternative to dealing with these problems in their communities.

Legalization of any drug is not a positive way to fight crime. In fact, there is no
legitimate reason to legalize drugs. The Legalization of marijuana is the starting
point of the pro-legalization of drugs movement. The issue of legalizing
marijuana is truly a controversial one, and certainly one that requires a plethora
of considerations at the top levels of the legislative branch. When considering
the possibility of legalizing marijuana as a recreational drug, there are a number
of concerns that come to mind. Is marijuana physically harmful to the user? Is
marijuana an addictive drug? Does the use of marijuana lead to dependency
situations? Does it act as “gateway” to more hazardous drugs? Does the notion
of legalizing marijuana send an immoral, wrong message to the youth of
America? Mr. Congressman, the answer to all these questions is YES.

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According to the DEA (1998), the supreme ruler of drug knowledge in
America, there are over 10,000 scientific studies that prove marijuana is a
harmful and addictive drug. Yet there is no reliable study that proves marijuana
has any medical value. Marijuana is an unstable mixture of over 425 chemicals,
which when smoked are converted to over thousands. Most of these are toxic,
psychoactive chemicals which are unstudied and appear in uncontrolled
strengths. Marijuana leads to many different consequences depending on the
personality and general characteristics of the individual using the drug. These
may include, but are not limited to: premature cancer, addiction, coordination
and perception impairment, mental disorders, hostility and increased
aggressiveness, general unconcern of life, memory loss, reproductive
disabilities, and impairment to the immune system. Marijuana is currently up to
25 times more potent than it was in the 1960’s, which makes the drug even
more addictive. In 1994, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that marijuana should
remain a Schedule I drug: highly addictive with no medical usefulness.

Marijuana is a harmful substance. The use of marijuana for the purposes of
intoxication leads to a number of serious health risks. Research has proven that
marijuana damages short term memory, distorts perceptions, impairs complex
motor skills, alters the heart rate, can lead to severe anxiety, and can cause
paranoia and lethargy. A condition called Amotivational syndrome take places
after chronic use. It is defined by Dr. Harry Avis (1996), professor of
psychology as, “a condition characterized by a lack of ambition or desire to
succeed, presumed to be the result of smoking marijuana.” As reported in The
Medical Journal of Australia, “Marijuana causes birth defects, fetal damage,
lung cancer, long-term impairment of memory, schizophrenia, suppression of
the immune system, and even leukemia in the children of marijuana-smoking
mothers” (Nahas ; Latour, 1992). The National Institute on Drug Abuse
(1996) reported that the chemicals found in marijuana smoke suppresses the
neurons in the information-processing system of the hippocampus. This is the
part of the brain that is crucial for learning, memory, and the integration of
sensory experiences with emotions and motivation. Marijuana, should it be
legalized, would ruin many Americans’ abilities to learn, and would abruptly
decay the development and progress of the American Society. Marijuana is
dangerous, and it is more dangerous than it ever has been. The federal Drug
Abuse Warning Network, or DAWN, claims that recent statistics show
increases in the number of patients mentioning marijuana in hospital emergency
rooms (“The Marijuana Debate Goes On”, 1998). Inexperienced users may
suffer acute anxiety the first time they use it. This could be a direct result of
the increase in potency of marijuana. Growers have access to the latest
agricultural technologies and scientific methods which enable them to grow
more powerful marijuana. “Growers have become extremely sophisticated
about developing varieties of marijuana with high concentrations of THC” (“Is
Marijuana Dangerous? Is It Addictive?”, 1995). THC, or
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is one of the 400 chemicals in marijuana. It
accounts for most of marijuana’s psychoactive, or mind-altering, effects (“Facts
About Marijuana and Marijuana Abuse”, 1996). The levels of THC found in the
modern drug markets’ marijuana are much higher than they have ever been.

The concentration of THC will keep increasing in the future. This directly leads
to more and stronger addictions to marijuana. One argument that the
pro-legalization movement pleads is that there are thousands of legal medical
drugs on the market that have possible side effects that can be dangerous to
the user. One effect can be dependency and addiction to prescription drugs.

Now, sure there are perception drugs on the market that are potentially
dangerous to the person taking the drugs, but their effects are nothing
compared to that of marijuana. Such a comparison can be made with a knife
and a gun. Both are potentially lethal and dangerous. Just being careless with a
knife can result in death or injury, but with the gun, all one has to be is stupid
enough to mess with it. Also, recreational marijuana users are not taking
marijuana under a doctor’s supervision, or taking a prescribed dosage from a
pharmacist. This argument is by no means grounds for possible consideration of
legalizing marijuana. The addictive ability of marijuana has been studied and
discussed for some time now. Many studies have transpired to verify these
addictive effects. It is said that marijuana is not physically addictive but is
psychologically addictive. None the less, there are obvious signs that marijuana
users become addicted in some manner. “Nationwide about 100,000 people a
year seek treatment to get off marijuana,” according to Alan I. Leshner,
director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (“Is Marijuana Dangerous? Is
It Addictive,” 1995). Dr. David Smith, founder of Haight-Ashbury Free Clinics
in San Francisco, says that, “the clinics there treat about 100 youths a month
who seek help with marijuana dependency” (“Is Marijuana Dangerous? Is It
Addictive,” 1995). Most people probably aren’t aware, but an organization
called Marijuana Anonymous actually exists. The only requirement for
membership is a desire to stop using marijuana. Such an organization would not
exist if addiction and dependency were not associated with marijuana use. The
physically harmful and addictive effects of marijuana should be grounds enough
to stop the legalization campaigns. We need to stay focused though, on a much
more critical problem our nation faces with this pro-drug crusade. That is
protecting the American children from throwing their lives away on drugs. If
marijuana were legalized with restrictions, similar to the age restrictions on
tobacco and alcohol, the use of marijuana by children under such an age would
increase. If it’s legal, children would get the notion that it isn’t harmful. The
physical effects of marijuana mentioned previously are much more dangerous
to the youths of America, who’s minds and bodies have not even finished
developing. The Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Statement on
Marijuana for Medical Purposes (1997) says, “marijuana use among kids has
increased 78 percent in the last four years alone”. With drug use by young
people increasing, we must not send a mixed message to our youth about the
dangers of marijuana. The recent proposals for legalization and the medical
usage laws are sending messages to the American children that it is “ok” to
smoke pot. And it simply is not. Our nations goals must be to reduce, not
promote the use of illicit drugs by our children. Marijuana is the first step that
children take into the dark world of drug abuse. It acts as a gateway to more
serious problems. The idea is that cocaine and heroin users don’t just start out
with cocaine and heroin. They start with drugs like marijuana that are easier to
get, to try, and are less legally offensive. According to the National Center on
Addiction and Substance Abuse (1998), “teens 12-17 who use marijuana are 85
times more likely to use cocaine than non-marijuana users”. The CASA
president, Joseph A. Califano, says, “that the gateway effect means that recent
increases in marijuana use among teens will translate into 820,000 more
children who will try cocaine in their lifetime, of whom 58,000 will become
(narcotics) addicts”(“The Marijuana Debate Goes on,” 1998). The number of
children that will use cocaine will increase should marijuana be legalized.

No-one debates the issue of legalizing cocaine. And no one should. Cocaine,
heroin, crack, and every other illicit drug out there should all remain illegal too.

There is no debate about the dangers of these drugs. When local drug dealers
know that your younger brother, sister, or child has tried smoking pot they see a
new customer for some of their more dangerous drugs. “If marijuana is a
gateway to hard drugs, it is likely due to its illicit status that the purveyors of pot
can put your adolescent in touch with the local crack connection” (Clark, 1997).

These drugs can kill the first time that they are used. There is no dispute about
the dangers of addiction and withdrawal that accompany the use of such drugs.

Do you want these dealers hassling the children of America? Legalizing
marijuana would set us on a slippery slope toward accepting any and all drugs.

Many pro-legalization organizations try to compare prohibition of alcohol to the
illegal status of marijuana. They try to make claims that marijuana isn’t as
dangerous as alcohol and should then be legal as well. This argument could be
debated for years, supported by scientists with physical studies backing up both
sides of the issue. Alcohol is definitely a dangerous and addictive drug. It leads
to thousands of deaths a year, be it drunk driving or other crimes executed
while intoxicated. It truthfully doesn’t matter which drug would eventually be
deemed the most dangerous. The fact of the matter is that this pro-legalization
argument is not a valid reason to legalize marijuana. The alcohol situation that
transpired during the early part of this century was totally different from the
current situation with marijuana. Prohibition of alcohol was repealed after just
13 years while prohibition against marijuana has lasted for more than seventy
five years. Alcohol prohibition struck directly at tens of millions of Americans
of all ages, including many of societies most powerful members. Marijuana
prohibition threatens far fewer Americans. Most of which are young and
relatively subordinate Americans. Alcohol prohibition was repealed and
marijuana prohibition was retained, not because scientists had proved that
alcohol was the less dangerous of the various psychoactive drugs, but because
of the prejudices and preferences of the majority of Americans. Marijuana has
no place in American society. The cost to society of the two legal drugs,
alcohol and tobacco, has been and still is enormous. As De Leon (1994) puts it,
we certainly don’t need to add any more problems by increasing the availability
of marijuana. “Even if it is relatively ineffective, we have developed social
control over the use of legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco. Among most
drinkers, solitary drinking, drinking and driving, and being intoxicated are
socially sanctioned, while drinking moderately with family and friends and
taking precautions about driving are encouraged. No such controls prevail over
marijuana or any other drugs.” (Avis, 1996). Marijuana should remain illegal
because of the enormous number of side effects and the addictions that result
from use. The illegality of drugs helps to discourage at least some people from
trying them. Making marijuana widely available would undoubtedly increase at
least experimental use, and given the stronger potency of modern marijuana,
most users would go on to develop abuse-related problems (MacCaoun, 1992).

Marijuana is still a drug! That fact can not be changed no matter how many
people vote on it. Drugs lead to Crime. And Crime breaks down society.

Average citizens, fed up with crime and drugs, are being told that legalization is
a reasonable alternative. As Thomas A. Constantine, administrator for the
DEA, puts it (“Speaking Out”, 1999), legalization is not an alternative, but rather
a surrender which will reduce our quality of life. Health and social costs
associated with the increased availability of marijuana would break our
economy. Crime would not decrease. The moral fiber of our country would be
ripped apart.
Bibliography:
Works Cited Avis, Harry. (1996). Drugs & Life. Chicago: Brown &
Benchmark. 137-156, 245-265. Clark, Thomas W. (1997, May/June). “Keep
Marijuana Illegal.” Humanist, 57, p. 14. De Leon, G. (1994). “Some Problems
with the anti-prohibitionist position on the legalization of drugs.” Journal of
Analytical Toxicology, 1-7,14. “Is Marijuana Dangerous? Is It Addictive?…”
(1995, July 28). CQ Researcher, p. 666-667. MacCoun, R. (1992). “Drugs and
the law: A psychological analysis of drug prohibition.” Psychological Bulletin,
113, 497-512. Nahas, C.G., & Latour, C. (1992). “The Human Toxicity of
Marijuana.” Medical Journal of Australia, 156, 495-497. National Institute on
Drug Abuse. (1996, May/April). NIDA publication: Facts About Marijuana and
Marijuana Abuse Publication posted on the World Wide Web. Washington,
DC. Retrieved April 15, 1999 from the World Wide Web:
http://www.nida.nih.gov/NIDA_NOTES/NNVol11N2/MarijuanaTearoff.html
Office of National Drug Control Policy. (1997, August 4). ONDCP publication:
ONDCP Statement on Marijuana for Medical Purposes Publication posted on
the World Wide Web. Washington, DC. Retrieved April 23, 1999 from the
World Wide Web: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/policy/medmj.html
Shalala, Donna E. (1995, August 18). “Say ‘No’ to Legalization of Marijuana.”
Wall Street Journal, pp. A10. “The Marijuana Debate Goes on.” (1998,
November 20). CQ Researcher, p. 1018-1019. U.S. Department of Justice:
Drug Enforcement Administration. (1999, February 10). DEA press release:
DEA Arrests, Seizures Rise in 1998 As National Crime Rate Drops Press
Release on the World Wide Web. Washington, DC. Retrieved April 28, 1999
from the World Wide Web: http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/legaliz/contents.htm
U.S. Department of Justice: Drug Enforcement Administration. DEA
publication: Say It Straight: The Medical Myths of Marijuana Publication
posted on the World Wide Web. Washington, DC. Retrieved April 28, 1999
from the World Wide Web: http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/sayit/myths.htm
U.S. Department of Justice: Drug Enforcement Administration. DEA
publication: Speaking Out Against Drug Legalization Publication posted on the
World Wide Web. Washington, DC. Retrieved April 28, 1999 from the World
Wide Web: http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/legaliz/contents.htm