In response to ‘A Case for the Legalisation of Marijuana‘, an appallingly researched and poorly-argued article published online and in the last issue of the Wessex Scene, I would like to present my case against the notion of legalising cannabis in Britain.
It is true that in the state of Colorado, millions of pounds worth of revenue has been collected by the government thanks to the legalisation of the Class B drug, revenue which ironically has been used to fund youth prevention services and help those affected by substance abuse.
However, let us think for a moment at what expense this money has been collected. Firstly, marijuana has not been labelled a Class B drug in Britain for nothing. It is addictive and dangerous with horrific side-effects, and legalising it would only encourage youth and adults alike in Britain to fund another habit on top of smoking and drinking. For years the NHS have campaigned for people to stop smoking and to drink and drive responsibly; moreover they have helped addicts and victims of drink and drugs on the road to recovery. What message would the government be sending out to the youth of today by legalising cannabis? How much of that revenue would have to go back into the NHS to help all those affected by binge smoking? When Brits can’t even be trusted to drink responsibly, what good will it do to allow them another method of intoxication? And when does it stop? Next we’ll be campaigning for the legalisation of cocaine…
At this point it is important to bring smoking into the debate because cannabis is very often cut with tobacco, and nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs on sale in Britain. And at a time when both tobacco and marijuana sales are actually falling, it hardly makes sense to suddenly legalise marijuana.
It cannot be denied that marijuana is a very widely used illegal drug, so the legalisation should actually be beneficial to those buying it – the drug contents would be cleaner, the sale of it controlled and we could assume the end of the black market. But have we really considered the way the black market works? A dealer isn’t going to let his customers walk away easy. Drug gangs are lethal and lowering the crime in one area (legalising the drug) will definitely not lower the crime rate within the underground community. As a side note: legalising murder is also a quick-fix way of lowering crime, but it doesn’t make it morally right.
In response to the statistics of those being admitted to hospital because of peanut related problems, well it’s obvious isn’t it? Peanuts aren’t illegal. No one ever got shot buying peanuts. And if you look deeper than the statistics, how many incidents could be indirectly linked backed to marijuana? Knife wounds from a dealer, weed-induced fights, shooting spree whilst high? Surely we want to lower the number of those being affected by the drug instead of encouraging crime.
And now the argument on alcohol. Firstly, the health benefits of a moderate amount of red wine each week have often been proven. However, the only long-term side-effects of smoking cannabis are dangerous and definitely not beneficial for the brain. Furthermore, breathalysers can be used to control the consumption of alcohol on drivers. One slip and it’s not just points on your licence; drinking and driving can lead to thousand-pound fines and imprisonment. We currently do not have the measures to be able to control the use of marijuana. And let us imagine that we’re waiting at a bus stop and a few people light up – it’s annoying enough when it’s just tobacco, but think for a moment how much worse it would be for a non-smoker, an elderly person or an asthmatic being affected passively by the smoke of a cannabis joint. One glass of wine only affects the person drinking it, whereas one joint inflicts its effects on all those in the vicinity.
There are very real and common side-effects of marijuana; side-effects incomparable to those of alcohol. As well as causing hallucinations and giving the initial euphoric sensation, it also increases feelings of anxiety and paranoia, changes in brain development and can ultimately lead to lung cancer. In a world that is becoming increasingly fast paced and stressful, where depression and anxiety are becoming the norm for young working people, the last thing people need is the influence of cannabis. Marijuana has also been proven to contribute to the likelihood of aggressive and violent behaviour, including domestic abuse and sexual assault. A legalisation of marijuana condones this behaviour and undoes what progress has been done for those suffering from addictions. It is illegal for good reason, so let’s keep it that way.