Free Argumentative Essay On Whether Cannabis Should Be Legalized

1.0 Abstract

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The research on the legalization of cannabis explores the literature as well carrying out a survey to establish the general view of the population concerning the legalization of cannabis. The drug ranks atop the most abused illegal drug in the world. However, the harmfulness of the drug has often been the subject of disagreement as seen in many findings presented in the literature review section. Despite these studies, many governments have kept their stand on keeping cannabis an illegal drug, with the exception of a few countries. To establish the public view on the legalization of cannabis, the researcher combined primary and secondary research to come up with individual positions and underlying arguments. The primary researches were carried out through questionnaires and focus discussion group interviews while the secondary research was carried out though examination of existent literature and authority reports providing an understanding of the motive behind the criminalization of cannabis and the consequences of legalizing the drug.

2.0 Rationale

Over the years, I have witnessed numerous debates surrounding the use of cannabis in the country. This debate, however, is not just prevalent in the domestic arena only. Internationally, the consumption of cannabis has been the subject of disagreements between individuals and the administrative structures. The use of drugs is a sensitive issue, and as such the issues surrounding their consumption have to be handled with care. This research, therefore, takes on a sensitive endeavor of revealing the attitudes of chosen people towards cannabis. The research tries to provide an updated view of the population regarding the ever-changing terms views concerning the use of the drug. The research acknowledges that cannabis is the mostly abused illegal drug in the world, and will seek to explore what people think about its consumption despite the restrictions. The research will also seek to establish the scientific truths regarding the use of cannabis by exploration of recent scientific material regarding the benefits of consumption of cannabis.

The topic concerning the use of cannabis and its legalization is a contentious one, and this research offers to fill the gap in the current people’s understanding of the drug and the reasons for or against the legalization. The data obtained from the experiment will be useful to policymakers regarding assessing the current public understanding of the benefits and risks of cannabis consumption. From the data, policymakers can establish the way forward as concerns changing the public understanding or feeding the public with the facts if the current understanding appears flawed. Also, the research topic offers an opportunity to acquire important knowledge on the understanding of the population on the facts about cannabis. Illegal distributors of the drug may use false information to drive people to make purchases. The research topic will contrast the current knowledge with scientific data to establish any discrepancies.

3.0 Literature Review

Worldwide, cannabis has been indicated by research as the most widely used illegal drug. Cannabis is synonymous to marijuana and hashish. The drug is derived from the plant Cannabis sativa, especially from the subspecies referred to as indicia. Three main forms of cannabis products are recognized: the resin and other products, common cannabis, and flowering preparations. Through research, it has been established that the active constituent of the compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Cannabidiol is another active component which has been associated with the antipsychotic activity. This means that the consumption of cannabis brings about consequences that are a function of the THC and cannabidiol concentration. Apart from the THC, cannabis also contains other substances whose effects remain unclear. The availability of the drug worldwide is attributed to the ability for easy cultivation. Normally, cannabis has been used in medical settings to constitute the making of powerful analgesics. However, illegal consumption is usually more than the legal medical use of the same.

The late twentieth century and the early twenty-first century have seen the piling of pressure on governmental institutions to legalize the use of cannabis. However, many governments have not yielded to the pressure. However, the pressure has continued to mount. In the United States, for instance, 23 states have already legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes while four others have decriminalized the use of cannabis for recreational purposes. The pressure keeps on piling, with an anticipation of more decriminalization in the near future. The federal laws forbid any dealings with marijuana but permits individual states to decriminalize the consumption of the drug on the condition that plausible regulations are put in place to curb misuse of the same. The United States is just an example of the use pressure that administrative structures are receiving regarding the legalization of the consumption of the drug.

However, despite all the perceived pressure, many countries have still held on to the old stand of keeping marijuana illegal. This situation is an indication of the existence of both opponents and proponents of the consumption of marijuana. Cannabis is just like any other commodity. According to opponents of legalization of the drug, the consumption of any commodity is associated with negative effects. Cannabis is mostly smoked in a similar fashion like cigarettes, making it a possible cause of the same condition that cigarettes expose people to. Lung cancer has been cited as a possible implication of the consumption of cannabis through smoking. Similar to alcohol consumption, opponents have argued that the drug induces changes in the cognitive capabilities of consumers. The argument on the impact of cannabis has been backed by scientific studies regarding the impact of cannabis constituents on the respiratory, circulatory, and central and peripheral nervous systems (Large et al. 2007).

According to Van Os et al. (2002), there is a significantly higher population of individuals suffering from psychotic disorders in the group of cannabis consumers than in the general population. According to the research, the consumption of cannabis predisposes individuals to the development of psychotic as well as other types of mental illnesses. The consumption of cannabis has also been linked with accidents and violent injuries to the consumers. A 2008 study carried out by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (AMCD, 2008) established that the there was supporting evidence for a link between the consumption of cannabis and the prevalence of road accidents. Apart for the impact on the body systems, cannabis has been shown to influence the social life of individuals. For instance, Van Ours and Williams (2009) established a positive relationship between the consumption cannabis and difficulties in the attainment of educational goals.

Research has also created a relationship between cannabis consumption on the costs incurred by different economies. In the U.K for instance, a 1.8% cost on the G.D.P was attributed to the external costs of drug consumption (ONDCP 2004). For instance, the cost of cases regarding the illegal consumption of drugs in the United States was calculated by the ONDCP (2004) to be equivalent to the total costs the nation incurred. The consumption of drugs has as well been implicated in the crime rates, a reason that opponents of decriminalization of cannabis use to back their stand. According to Collins and Lapsley (2008), the crime rates were at an estimated 56% of costs to Australia on crimes that arose from the use of illegal drugs in the nation. Also, it has been established that cannabis consumption is higher in criminal groups (Pudney, 2010).

However, the reasons given for the opposition to the move to legalize cannabis consumption can be refuted. The internal costs to the user may be true at some point, but the rationality of the administration system leaves voids. Research has indicated that cannabis is less addictive that other legal drugs like cigarettes and alcohol (Nutt et al. 2007). According to the ranking done by Nutt et al. (2004) founded on UK expert opinion, tobacco and alcohol rank a way high in harmfulness as compared to cannabis. The dependency challenge experienced by consumers of alcohol and cannabis are usually high as compared to the same statistics for cannabis. There are rare reports of deaths resulting from cannabis consumption, a factor that may be attributed to shortcomings of the recordings system. The statistics that relate the consumption of cannabis and the occurrence of accidents are in a way misleading. According to Pudney (2010), most of these accidents often happen with the combination of cannabis and other drugs like alcohol. A 1986 study done by Smiley established a link between a reduction in accidents and the calming effect induced by cannabis.

The research done on the psychotic and mental illnesses associated with the consumption of cannabis is blurred. Due to the illegal status of the consumption of cannabis, the production processes of the different products are not regulated. The lack of a standardized production system creates loopholes in the quality of the products, a factor that may predispose consumers to the occurrence of cognitive disorders and other mental illnesses. According to an analysis done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA 2008), there was a significant increase in the THC content of seized cannabis from 4.5% to 8.1% in the decade starting in 1997 and ending in 2007 in the United States. A strong link has been established between the potency of cannabis and the ability to induce psychotic disorders. Cognitive conditions such as delirium, dementia, and amnesia are associated with the consumption of such substance. As such, it would be safe to argue that the occurrence of psychotic disorders can be alleviated by the inclusion of governmental control in the production process. According to Wilkinson et al. (2016), the legalization of marijuana in the United States has yielded positive results concerning the down-regulation of mental illnesses as a result of cannabis consumption.

Lastly, the costs of the government concerning the handling of cases of illegal consumption of cannabis can be avoided through decriminalization. The criminal justice system of the United States had an estimated cost of a fifth of total expenditure costs dealing with illegal aspects of drug handling. The crimes related to cannabis are high, and as such the costs in the courts are high as well. This phenomenon is an indication that legalizing of cannabis under regulation would result in the reduction of the costs underwent by the court systems. These funds can be directed towards the creation of policies to govern the use of cannabis. The production, distribution and consumption of cannabis should be put under the regulation of the government so as to ensure that the drug is used in the right way.

4.0. Research Aims

The aims of this research are as listed below:

  1. To explore the views of a selected adult population concerning their position on the legalization of cannabis in the United Kingdom.
  2. To draw conclusion from the study regarding the overall reaction to the question of whether to legalize the use of cannabis in the country using statistics from the study.

Research Hypothesis

‘A randomly selected population in the United Kingdom for a survey on cannabis will show preference towards legalization of the drug.’

5.0 Methodology

Sample

The sample of the population was selected from London. The sample consisted of adults who were twenty-five years and above. The selection criterion was achieved through the use of stratified random sampling. The use of stratified random sampling is essential in avoiding of common types of bias. The research made use fifty respondents covering a significant geographical area of London. The researcher was involved in the selection of the respondents. The selection was made through an online platform where respondents were asked to participate in volunteer research. The research had a large number of volunteers coming up from the research, but the limitations in resources meant that only fifty were plausible. Here, the researcher used stratified random sampling factoring in the geographical distribution, gender, and age so as to come up with the most suitable study population.

Data Collection

The data collection exercise was done using two primary research techniques. These techniques are as explained below:

Questionnaires

One of the effective methods of social research, according to Bernard and Bernard (2010), is the use of the questionnaires. The method is less involving and has developed with technology to enable respondents to provide needed information in the comfort of their homes. In this case, the identified respondents were sent the questionnaires through emails and responded through the same platform. The method was advantageous in that the researcher did not invest huge resources and time in coming up with the required data. The questionnaires contained ten closed-ended questions and one open-ended question at the end of the questionnaire. The researcher then compiled the data for the analysis phase.

Interviews

The researcher was convinced that the effectiveness of the research would be boosted through conducting interviews. The selected respondents were conducted, and thirty of them agreed to an interview in addition to filling out a questionnaire. The number of participants reached the threshold to hold focus discussion group interviews. As such, the researcher divided the respondents into five groups, each with six members. To ensure balance and avoid bias, the researcher used stratified random sampling to constitute the groups. The groups were constituted in a way that the variables of age, gender and ethnical backgrounds were taken into consideration. The meeting was arranged, and the groups met for a six-hour session and deliberated on the questions that the researcher ad presented regarding the legalization of cannabis in the United Kingdom.

The interviews were conducted with the help of moderators that the lead researcher had identified. The interviews were made of open-ended questions, exploring the views of the participants on the consumption, effects, regulation, costs to government, and the regulation of cannabis in the United Kingdom. Data from the interviews was collected by moderators and the lead researcher through note taking. The interviews were conducted successfully, with the researcher getting satisfied with the information gathered. The researcher proceeded to compile the data from the six focus discussion groups into a single platform for analysis in the next stage of the research. According to Bernard and Bernard (2012), the use of focus discussion groups in social research is efficient in that much information is collected and the researcher can develop new themes in the course of the study. As such, this study invested on focus discussion groups rather than personal interviews that would provide less information and use more time.

Data Analysis

Data analysis was done after the collection exercise was over. The return of the filled questionnaires was not uniform, and as such the researcher had to wait until the last questionnaire was submitted. The researcher compiled the data in an understandable manner, displaying the result of the poll on whether cannabis should be legalized, and exploring the common reasons behind the arguments as explored in the focus group discussion interviews. The results are shown and explained in the findings section.

Ethical Considerations

The respondents were each accorded an assurance of privacy. The study involved a sensitive issue in the society, and therefore, exposure to the subjects and their responses would lead to victimization. To avoid this, the identity of the researchers was kept anonymous. Also, the research questions were sensitive enough to avoid having negative impacts on the ability of the respondents to give appropriate answers. The names and addresses of the respondents to the questionnaires were withheld as the questions were sensitive. The questionnaires had questions regarding the consumption and experiences of cannabis, a reason the identity was kept anonymous.

6.0 Findings

The questionnaire had a polling question where the respondents were required to indicate whether they supported or opposed legalization of cannabis in the United Kingdom. Out of the fifty respondents, twenty-eight were of the view that cannabis should be legalized, while twenty-two opposed the proposal to legalize cannabis.

Figure 1: A chart illustrating the response on the proposal to legalize cannabis in the United Kingdom.

These findings were backed by explained by the open-ended question at the end of the questionnaire and the other questions that were discussed in the interview section. The research, as earlier indicated, was aimed at establishing the general view of the chosen respondents concerning the legalization of cannabis and the reasons behind this view. As can be established from the findings, the population supporting the legalization of cannabis was more than that against legalization. However, the variation between the figures for the proponents and opponents of the move was minimal, meaning that the issue was subject to heated debate in the country.

The opponents of legalization of the consumption of cannabis were arguing mostly from the perceived impact of the drug on consumers. Psychotic disorders were a major reason explained by the individuals against the legalization of cannabis in the country. A significant portion of the respondents indicated awareness with psychotic conditions as dementia and delirium being induced by cannabis. However, the proponents of legalization of cannabis claimed that mental illnesses were a result of the lack of regulation mechanisms by the government. With cannabis being illegal, there could not be standard mechanisms to produce, distribute, or consume the product. As such, the ability to cause these conditions is based on the absence of regulatory mechanisms to curb control these aspects of production and consumption.

The arguments are conversant with the findings of Large et al., (2011) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (2008). The lack of regulation plays a huge role in predisposing consumers to mental illnesses, as seen in the increased THC component of cannabis in the NIDA study. However, the prevalence of these conditions in the cannabis consuming population is an indication of slight harmful effects. On another side, the opponents of the legalization move cite the changes in behavioral patterns as a good reason for continued criminalization of the drug. Increase in criminal activities in within the group that consumes cannabis is cited as an example of the behavioral changes that would cause a dilemma to the society and increased costs to the court systems due to increasing in the number of criminal cases.

However, the proponents oppose the idea that criminal activities would increase if cannabis was legalized. According to those that proposed legalization, the court system is already facing huge costs dealing with cases touching on cannabis. Once legalized, the government would reap huge benefits by reducing the costs associated with court cases and getting revenue from transactions on cannabis. This argument reflects the findings of the ONDCP (2004) study of the costs that the court systems incur dealing with activities surrounding the use of cannabis. To reduce these costs, therefore, legalization would be the best option.

7.0 Conclusions

The research met the aims established at the beginning, as well fulfilled the hypothesis of the study. The research provided results that indicated a slight orientation towards the legalization of cannabis. The findings correspond to earlier studies carried out by individuals and institutions, most notably the studies by NIDA (2008), ONDCP (2004), Pudney (2010), Van Os et al. (2002), and Large et al. (2011). However, the research was not representative enough for it to be termed fully conclusive. The fact that the study was carried out in the City of London means that the whole country has not been represented in the study. However, with more resources the study can be more representative by covering a wider geographical area and including a larger population in the study. However, the research was successful in proving the hypothesis and fulfilling the research aims.

8.0 Bibliography: Should Cannabis Be Legalized Essay

Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, 2008.Cannabis: classification and public health, Home Office, London.

Bernard, H.R. and Bernard, H.R., 2012. Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Sage.

Collins, D. J. and H. M. Lapsley, 2008.The costs of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug abuse to Australian society in 2004/05. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

Kleber, H.D. and Dupont, R.L., 2012. Physicians and medical marijuana. American Journal of Psychiatry

Large, M., Sharma, S., Compton, M.T., Slade, T. and Nielssen, O., 2011. Cannabis use and earlier onset of psychosis: a systematic meta-analysis. Archives of general psychiatry, 68(6), pp.555-561.

National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2008. ‘Potency monitoring project: quarterly report 100’, 16 December 2007—15 March 2008. University of Mississippi

Nutt, D., L. A. King, W. Saulsbury and C. Blakemore, 2007. ‘Development of a rational

scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse’, Lancet, 369, 1047–53.

ONDCP, 2004. The Economic Costs of Drug Abuse in the United States 1992–2002. Executive Office of the President (publication no. 207303), Washington DC

Pudney, S., 2010. Drugs policy: what should we do about cannabis?. Economic policy, 25(61), pp.165-211.

Van Os, J., M. Bak, M. Hanssen, R.V. Bijil, E. R. Graaf and H. Verdoux., 2002. ‘Cannabis use and psychosis: a longitudinal population based study’, American Journal of Epidemiology,156,319–327.

Van Ours, J. C. and J. Williams, 2009. ‘Why parents worry: initiation into cannabis use by youth and their educational attainment’, Journal of Health Economics, 28, 132–142.

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