August 27, 2007
Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. There is a growing campaign of people who would like to change one word in that statement: illegal.
Groups such as The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and the Marijuana Legalization Organization are part of a movement that seeks to legalize the use of marijuana.
The proponents of these measures state that there are thousands of Americans who use marijuana for both recreational and medicinal purposes, and they should not have to fear legal retribution.
They back up their stance with research that finds marijuana is not as bad as the federal government would like you to believe.
One such study, conducted jointly between the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California focused on cancers of the head and neck and lung cancer, which are all typically associated with tobacco usage.
The overall results of the study suggest that smoking marijuana does not seem to increase the risks of these cancers.
There are also those who say that the government could be saving billions of dollars if marijuana were decriminalized. A study conducted in 2005 at Harvard University indicates the following: Between the money spent on policing the criminal activity of those who use pot and the taxes the government is not collecting, there is approximately $14 billion in revenue being lost.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse considers marijuana to be an extreme health risk. It states that marijuana causes changes in the brain that affect short-term memory and cognition. The study also claims that a marijuana smoker's chance of having a heart attack more than quadruples in the hour after smoking.
NIDA also states that people who use marijuana on a regular basis have increased depression, personality disturbances and anxiety. Their stance is that no amount of marijuana is a safe amount.