Cannabis is a class B drug that is currently illegal, although protests occur nationwide in various countries for the drug to be legalised. A person can receive 5 years in prison for possessing the drug, and fourteen years for supplying it.
On the one hand, cannabis is a drug that can make people feel relaxed and happy, therefore is arguably harmless and it can even be said that it helps with medical problems. For example, there have been suggestions that cannabis destroys cancerous cells and research shows it may be beneficial to Alzheimer’s or depression. Furthermore, some make the point that a legalisation of cannabis would result in a decrease of drug use in teenagers.
However, the effects of cannabis when smoked are immediate, and these short term effects on a person may vary from feeling relaxed, and finding everything funny to being instantly panicky, paranoid and suspicious. Cannabis is a drug that can have various effects on different people: some react badly to the drug, others react in a ‘positive’ way and some may become highly addicted to the drug. Dr Drew Pinksy argues this point: “Anybody who’s actually been addicted to it, knows how profound that addiction is…for them it is really tough.”
If the drug was made legal, would it be worth a person reacting dangerously to it for every person that receives some self-centred, short-term satisfaction?
Health issues are also associated with cannabis, as research shows that there is a risk of irreversible cognitive impairment in children and pre-pubescent adolescents, as well as an increased risk of developing depression, with heavy users seemingly having a higher risk.
Social issues consist of fears of higher drop-out rates in schools and lower school averages for teens that take marijuana. Yet, this statement may have reduced reliability given that the surveys taken to indicate these results are usually self-administered, and may be anonymous.
An effect of cannabis is that it slows down the reactions of the user. Therefore, if legalised, the drug would obviously be more accessible to the average person, thus increasing the risk of ‘drug-driving’. Given that one person is killed every half-hour due to drunk driving and each year approximately 16,000 are killed in alcohol related crashes, would it really be wise, or even considerate, to boost these statistics even more so? Perhaps one person killed every ten minutes due to driving under the influence. Legalising cannabis would arguably be ‘flushing human lives down the drain’: current legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco are killing hundreds of thousands per year for various reasons, and it is supposedly too late to ban these drugs because they have been legal for so long that they are deeply ingrained in our society. In conclusion, legalising cannabis would effectively be killing even more, and these lives are not worth the pleasure that other people want to feel for a few hours because they fail to find happiness in their own lives.
The NHS is against the legalisation of drugs, one of the reasons being their concerns for drug-driving. A case study of teenage learner driver Stephen Gibbs suggests why:
“Stephen Gibbs took cannabis only hours before he was involved in a crash which left his mother dead. The 17 year-old lost control of his Ford Fiesta in Cambridgeshire and hit an oncoming car killing his mum Sarah, aged 35, who was a passenger in the front seat. PC Peter Bimson told an investigation into her death last month that he believed that the use of cannabis by Stephen had been a factor in the cause of the collision.”
Overall, despite the beneficial factors of cannabis being an advantage for health reasons, and helping some relax, these do not outweigh the tragic long-term consequences that the drug can cause in today’s society. I believe many need to look past the supposedly self-indulgent view of it being ‘great to get high’ and look deeper into the matter. The legalisation of cannabis could cost lives, and a society demanding the legalisation of one drug that may just have similar effects to that of alcohol could lead to yet further demands for the legalisation of harder drugs, such as ecstasy.