Pubdate: Mon, 22 Sep 2014
Source: Peak, The (Simon Fraser U, Edu CN BC)
Copyright: 2014 Peak Publications Society
Author: Dustin Simmonds


In light of recent study results, the risks outweigh the benefits

Talks regarding the decriminalization of marijuana have been around
for many years, but only became mainstream in 2000 with the founding
of the Marijuana Party of Canada. For the majority of that time, many
believed that a change in the drug's status was a mere pipe dream
suited to a fringe group that would never hold any power, real or
imagined, in this country.

That belief was shattered when Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau
announced he plans to legalize marijuana if he becomes Prime Minister
next year. With that in mind, the question has again arisen: Should
marijuana be legalized?

The answer is unequivocally no. Though proponents of legalization
point out that there is big money to be made through taxation of the
drug similar to how taxes are levied on cigarettes and alcohol - this
idea ignores some very basic facts. For starters, marijuana already
has an established black market trade which will restrict the amount
of tax the government can place on such a product. If store-bought
marijuana becomes overtaxed, people will fall back on this already
established underground market.

What's more, since most street marijuana has other drugs mixed into
it, one may not get the desired effects that they are used to when
using the store-bought products, which may lead them back onto the
street even if the pricing is reasonable.

Teen pot use is linked to a likelihood of incomplete education,
suicide attempts and brain damage.

In addition, we are only beginning to discover some of the effects
that continual use of marijuana can have on the body. While we may
gain funds through taxation, most of that money may very well go right
back into dealing with the myriad of health issues that smoking pot
can cause. According to the American Lung Association, marijuana
contains 33 chemicals that are known to cause cancer, and due to the
lack of filters on joints, deposits four times as much tar into the
lungs as an equal amount of tobacco.

There is also evidence to show that marijuana use can cause a host of
other problems. Recent studies out of Australia and New Zealand
analyzed data on close to 4,000 people, comparing those who had used
pot with those who had not, and the results were staggering.
Researchers found that frequent pot use by teens is linked to a
greater likelihood of incomplete education, suicide attempts, and
damage to brain development. In addition, they found that certain
cognitive functions can suffer permanent damage as a result of
frequent use.

This aligns with what other researchers have already discovered -
there is a correlation between marijuana use and permanent brain
damage, especially during adolescent use, when the brain is
developing. Last year, Northwestern University scientists, led by
Matthew Smith - an assistant research professor in psychiatry and
behavioural sciences - discovered that parts of the brain related to
short-term memory "seemed to collapse inward or shrink in people who
had a history of daily marijuana use when compared to healthy
participants." So it actually does destroy your brain.

Finally, let's keep in mind that the reason Mr. Trudeau gave for
legalizing the drug was "to keep it out of the hands of our kids," as
if legalizing and regulating the drug will make a difference. As
mentioned previously, the black market for pot will always exist, and
when I was in high school, nobody seemed to have a problem getting
ahold of cigarettes or alcohol, despite their regulation. The
potential benefits certainly do not outweigh the risks.
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