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Hot Button: Legalize Marijuana?

Dispensing medical marijuana in vending machines may be legal in California, but should we legalize marijuana all together? While some states support medical marijuana, no state has moved for a general legalization despite widespread use and general ambivalence. Even politicians fess up to smoking pot like it's no big deal. So why does the US government take such a zero-tolerance stance on marijuana?

Common arguments made by the different sides of the debate include:

For legalization:

  • Marijuana is not more harmful than alcohol.
  • Legalization would lower drug prices and thus reduce crime.
  • Drug dealers would lose business.
  • Drug busts trap people in a system that turns them into lifelong criminals.

For arguments against,


Against legalization:

  • Marijuana is a gateway drug.
  • Marijuana causes physical damage.
  • Drugs are morally wrong.
  • Drug-related arrests get dangerous people off the streets.

Also, Check out this interesting collection of opinions — by psychiatrists, historians, scientists, etc. — on the subject. What do you think about legalizing pot?


Join The Conversation
nicachica nicachica 9 years
otherwise, i think most people are responsible users. i used to work to decriminalize mj and i think that if you want to use it, then you should be allowed to.
nicachica nicachica 9 years
Renee, i'm glad that you got treatment and you've been clean for 5 years. however, i think when people refer to marijuana as being a gateway drug, they are suggesting that because one tries mj, then they will DEFINITELY move on to harder drugs and that simply isn't the case most of the time. As for the attack on Piper, i don't think that's very fair. I smoke weed sometimes (used to do it regularly) but I think everyone has their own experiences with it and her experience shouldn't be denigrated even if i don't agree with all that she says. I think that people can be psychologically addicted to weed and frankly, those types of addictions can be just as hard to break as physical addictions to drugs like heroin. it depends on the person and i think that we need to start putting people into treatment instead of throwing them into jail which doesn't help one iota. so yes, i think mj should be legalized and taxed like alcohol but that if a person feels they are addicted, then treatment should be an option.
piper23 piper23 9 years
Renees3 - Your honesty is inspiring. I don't think alicia.. can say YOU have limited experience as she did me. Seriously, you're an inspiration!
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
oh and one more thing, sorry. When I talk about gateway drugs, people always are like "yea they smoked weed first, but they're probably also drank or smoked cigarettes, are those gateways??" In response, yes in a way. BUT when I talk about marijuana possibly leading to harder drugs, the reason people move on is because they want something stronger. No one tries harder drugs because the cigarette isn't strong enough, or the booze isn't. I don't think it should be banned or anything like that, I just think that we shouldn't be so gung ho about releasing something without thinking about the reprecussions.
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
I can't believe people are saying that marijuana isn't addictive and isn't problematic. It CAN be a gateway drug, to deny that is ignorant. OF COURSE it's not for everyone, but the fact that most people using harder drugs start with that and move on for stronger things is a a serious issue to look at. I smoked weed for a couple years and finally ended up moving to stronger drugs because weed jsut didn't do it for me. I wasted many years of my life chasing that. And smoking weed alone affected my life too. I've been clean for 5 years now. I don't think it's bad for everyone, but it's bad for a lot. Why would we legalize something that can hurt so many? I HATE when people say no one hurts anyone when stoned. A good friend of mine got into a bad car accident while stoned. Slow reaction time. And saying that people are WEAK if they can't stop smoking it, not addicted? So something is wrong with them? Back in the 80's we starting criminalizing drug addicts, instead of helping them. I am all for allowing marijuana to go to people who need it. Legalizing it wouldn't do that, it would give it to anyone who wanted it. That in itself can be dangerous. We don't know the all the effects it can have on you in the end. I mean hell, we used to use heroin as a medicine. You never know what it will be like in the end. Legalizing it won't fix our drug problem. Believe me, the jails are full of people that just smoked weed. I'm rambling, I'm sorry. It's just that drug addiction and the way our society treats addicts is one of those things that really upsets me
piper23 piper23 9 years
What does it matter if its his own weakness or not? He needed help to stop using it so he got help. Weakness or not, he was trying to help himself. There are all kinds of addictions that could be called weaknesses but I'm sure that the people that can't stop using consider themselves weak AND addicted. And I can read all day long about this issue and it won't change my stance on it. But thanks for the reccomendation.
aliciainwonder aliciainwonder 9 years
vote for RON PAUL. He is against the war on drugs and believes that its its a state's business (not the federal government's) to decide if medicinal marijuana should be allowed.
aliciainwonder aliciainwonder 9 years
piper23: You CANNOT be physically addicted to marijuana. It is your friend's dad's own weakness that he is "addicted to it". ALSO, my friend's parents tried to send him to substance addiction counciler for using marijuana but the person flat out DENIED him as a patient because it isn't considered addictive. Why don't you look up the scientific facts about a substance before you make a opinion on your own limited experience or the misinformation they teach you in school.
piper23 piper23 9 years
My best friend's dad went to rehab for marijuana addiction. I think he did that because he was addicted. Unless he just went there for vacation... I'll have to clarify that with him. As for the moral issue, that's up to the individual. I don't do it because I've seen the state of stupidity it puts my friends in. I'm totally against it for a lot of reasons. But if it were legal I believe that there would be a lot of parents (idiotic parents in my opinion) smoking pot in front of their kids. As they unfortunately do with cigarettes. And I have been around my friends enough to know that anyone within within smell shot of them can get what is called a "contact high" I believe. I could be wrong about that terminology because it seems I ticked off someone for referring to marijuana as "dope". I'm sorry if I was not politcally correct but I thought it was called dope, or pot, or weed, or mary jane, or bud. If I offend then please accept my apology.
elizabethgracef elizabethgracef 9 years
Also, remedios, I've never gotten high off of one drag from a joint. It'd be nice though.
elizabethgracef elizabethgracef 9 years
Alcohol is used as a getaway as well... I'm all for the legalization of marijuana, or at least for medicinal purposes.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Ah Remedios, you and I could go on forever about the Constitution, so I will save us the trouble since I am a little bit of an anarchist as well, actually I wish society was functional enough to have anarchy. I feel people use that term as something bad, when really it can be so beautiful. We both know interpretation can really go on for an eternity. But I found this quote that I think states really well what America was founded on: "America was founded upon the idea, that sovereignty and freedom are the birthright of the individual, who delegates only certain specified privileges to small local governments, which then delegate even fewer powers to larger governments"
bhustle bhustle 9 years
How can it be addictive if I smoked for 15yrs? That is what you believe and you are entitled to your opinion but I believe that it's about control. I'm gonna put myself out there just because I'm proud of smoking but basically I smoke everyday unless I'm working (whether I'm home or at work). Now I will admit, that it is not for you. If you feel you're addicted then you quit. Whoever doesn't smoke weed can't say that it is addictive.
caligirl101 caligirl101 9 years
Legalize and stop wasting $ trying to eradicate something that causes so much less harm than cigs and alcohol!
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
Ahhh this is so ironic that this topic is here. Last night I went out with friends and drank alcohol, something I don't do a whole lot of, and now I have the worst headache today. When I smoked pot, I never woke up with a headache, so legalize it! :) Too bad I am thinking about getting a govt. job in the future and applying to the FBI, you can't have smoked more than 15 times in your life to qualify, so no more pot for me. In all seriousness the people supporting legalization (or decriminalization) have already articulated why it should be legalized. Remedios, your posts were very good. I just want to say that I found the whole "keeps dangerous people off the streets" argument blatantly false. It does the opposite, making pot illegal puts innocent people in jail.
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 9 years
As for it causing cancer and being more dangerous than cigarettes I would like to mention vaporizers, used by cancer patients or anyone else who would like to use marijuana without smoking or eating it. It literally vaporizes the pot into a clean damp smoke and is 99% clean as it only dissolves the THC, and not burning the whole plant and it's byproducts and inhaling it. It will give a different effect than smoking a joint, it is an easier and calmer way for your body to use a substance. Any time you get smoke in your lungs your body will react in defense and get a little shock, whether it be from a house fire, cigarettes or a joint. The same goes for alcohol, especially hard liquor, your body will think you are consuming something poisonous. Off course you can control your body with your mind once you can predict your bodily reaction to whatever you choose to consume, which is why some people can drink until they collapse or over-eaters can be calm while their body is in sugar shock. My boyfriend smokes just a little bit every day, using his vaporizer, and although I don't smoke I actually don't mind that he does. It doesn't affect his work, our life or our relationship in any negative way. I'm guessing it is relaxing and meditational to him, and you can think it is stupid as much as you want; but it is no more stupid or harmful that eating a sugary chocolate bar, drinking a glass of wine, having a cigarette, or a bowl of ice cream every night. And actually less addicting than sugar, and sugar kills lives every day, but you're still allowed to buy it in the stores. Just because smoking pot isn't for you (or me, it gives me head aches), I don't think you should judge others so harshly.
pisces-girl pisces-girl 9 years
I really think it's time to legalize this stuff.
Hootie Hootie 9 years
Totally against it being legal.
asims asims 9 years
I also think it should be regulated like alcohol. I don't believe it's a gateway drug. I've smoked weed & I NEVER wanted to even do any other drug - that depends solely on the person. As for morality, that's not for someone else to decide for me.
chakra_healer chakra_healer 9 years
I agree AbbyVanB! The prison industrial complex and mandatory sentencing have less to do with deterring drug use than increasing profits to the private prison system. It really is not the moral issue it seems. :)
chakra_healer chakra_healer 9 years
""In my opinion, the difference between alcohol and weed is that you can "do" alcohol without feeling any severe effects. If I have half a glass of wine, I'm not drunk. However, you can get high on one drag of marijuana." Princesskitty22 - that is a good point I forgot about. Of course it's not a perfect test (factoring tolerance), but there is accuracy there." I do get drunk from one alcoholic beverage, not fall down, but I am impaired. It has to be with my fast metabolism and the increased alcohol sensitivity women have. Conversely, I have never been able to get high from Marijuana, and I tried several times when younger. Drugs of any kind effect users differently due to various factors. :)
chakra_healer chakra_healer 9 years
Loved reading everyone's posts! I agree with Remedios, your posts are speaking to me as a fellow libertarian. Thanks! :) I would like to add the "war on drugs" is a long failed policy, people have and will continue to use drugs; why not legalize them with the same safeguards we currently place on other drugs like alcohol and tobacco? Additionally, they could be regulated (licensed dealers, potency, quality, price, etc.) and taxed, all of which would be beneficial to users (good product) and society (fewer drug related crimes and increased funding to govt.) as a whole. While we are discussing drugs; let's not forget the cocaine sentencing disparities. That would be a great topic too, imo.
remedios remedios 9 years
cine_lover - I'm definitely sympathetic to federalism, to placing control in the states. I like the idea of 50 laboratories experimenting for the right government as described by Brandeis. I'm just an anarchist at heart in some ways. (Since I'm not willing to really commit there, that's why I use "libertarian" instead. That, and I'm also sympathetic to the needs of the less fortunate.) So I don't think states should have that much power either. Also, I just read the Constitution differently. I don't think it places this type of power with the state govts. I think it says that the fed govt doesn't have the power to invade my privacy, and that state govts don't have that power either, through the 14th Amendment. I know I'm not going to have that. I know a govt is going to take that from me, and at that point, I'm not sure I find any justification for state over federal. Maybe you could argue that the 10th Amendment provides that, but it's been so watered down and useless (largely by the 14th) up to now anyway, and I don't think it is a sufficient location of the power. A state doesn't exist without the federal govt, but the reverse is not true. But I do see where you and others are coming from. "In my opinion, the difference between alcohol and weed is that you can "do" alcohol without feeling any severe effects. If I have half a glass of wine, I'm not drunk. However, you can get high on one drag of marijuana." Princesskitty22 - that is a good point I forgot about. Of course it's not a perfect test (factoring tolerance), but there is accuracy there.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Jillness, I was not saying it is physically addicting, I was just stating that it is addicting, like you said just like shopping and the internet can be. It can be just as controlling as alcohol, and other drugs, without the physical addiction, from what I have seen with my friends. A lot of addictions are psychological rather then physical, and some are both. But again, I am not saying that it should not be legalized, I just don't think that saying it is not addicting should be used as an argument to legalize pot. And just to reiterate, it is a state issue. :)
I drink about once a year. In fact, last time I got drunk was the Super Bowl last year. If I take one sip/drink of anything with alcohol in it, I immediately feel the effects. A glass of wine and I'm tipsy. All about an individuals tolerance.
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