William Ramage | United States
Multiple nations around the world are shifting towards marijuana-friendly policies. However, the United States has remained highly conservative on the issue. Despite numerous breakthroughs in the medical use of marijuana, the majority of the United States has yet to legalize any form of cannabis. Given this steadfast view on marijuana, why does the United States take such a liberal approach to alcohol?
The Alcohol Comparison
Alcoholism, drunk driving, and alcohol poisoning contribute to 88,000 annual alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. Alcohol is the third highest cause of preventable death in America, falling short to tobacco use and physical inactivity. On a global perspective, alcohol-related deaths account for 5.9% of total deaths.
In spite of this, modern society has normalized the use an abuse of alcohol. As a result, it often overlooks these looming problems. This normalization of alcohol is a result of alcohol use being prevalent throughout the majority of human history; we are simply used to it and have grown accustomed to it. In the early days of our republic, there was an effort to outlaw alcohol.
The Temperance Movement came from alcohol plaguing the common man. In fact, many would spend far too much of their wages on liquor. This negatively impacted his family and resulted in many inter-familial tensions. The movement was mildly successful but eventually died out completely.
Present day marijuana resistance, on the other hand, is essentially an unorganized, government-led temperance movement. It is preventing the population of our “free” country from using it medically and recreationally without a specific reason to ban it. In fact, a nationwide legalization of marijuana would be beneficial on various levels, far more so than alcohol is.
Marijuana and Medical Benefit
Marijuana has many health benefits, including being an effective painkiller. Cannabis can absolutely be an addictive substance. However, addiction is fairly uncommon and less dangerous, especially compared to opiates like morphine and codeine. These drugs, though, are legal in the United States for medical use. One can very easily overdose to the point of death from using these opioids, while it is impossible to do so from marijuana.
A number of studies have shown that marijuana use helps to curb vomiting and nausea in chemotherapy patients. The government should not be preventing these patients from receiving the treatment they need; it is unfair and the benefits greatly exceed the minor risks. There is also some evidence that suggests marijuana can target cancer cells without harming normal ones.
If applied on a national level, medical marijuana could cause a breakthrough in cancer research. Marijuana is a very low-risk drug, far more so than many legal ones. America’s decision to legalize cannabis in all forms is long overdue, and its strict policy on it is incredibly contradictory, given the legal status of other drugs, both recreational and medical.
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