Weed is the name given to the dried leaves and buds of various cannabis sativa plants. Weed is just one of the many names of the plant. Other names include pot, hemp, marijuana, ganja, cannabis, grass and many more. Reportedly, the biologically active constituents of weed known as cannabinoids have been used for herbal remedies for centuries. The components of cannabinoids that have extensively studied include chemicals delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and cannabidiol (CBD), (Nelson, 2015). Before the legalization of the weed on October 17, weed was the most prevalent illicit drug both in Canada and globally. Undoubtedly, there has been a significant division between science and public opinion regarding the medicinal and recreational purposes of the weed. Owing to this debate, Canada legalized medical marijuana in the year 2001. However, on October 17, Canada legalized the possession and use of recreational weed, making it the second country after Uruguay to legalize cannabis. However, the controversy still exists regarding the whole issue around weed legalization.
This paper, therefore, will argue that the legalization is a good decision by the Canadian government because it would not just end illegal criminal activities due to buying and selling of marijuana but also would cure deadly diseases like cancer, AIDS, glaucoma. Those who support the legalization on medical grounds argue that the weed helps patients of debilitating severe diseases or symptoms such as Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, and chronic pain.
Benefits of Weed Legalization
Initially, the benefits of marijuana were only perceived theoretically. However, the emerging studies have proven these benefits true prompting the state to legalize both medical and recreational weed sales and use. Hopefully, the legalization would increase security and promote health in several ways.
Boosting the Security by Eliminating Criminal Activities
-Eradication of the Black Market
Over the years before the legalization of the weed, the black market was the only means of obtaining the weed. Indeed, for one to have possession and use of the ganja they must have had good connections. These connections would always be traced to the drugs dealers or individuals who were part of the organized crime such as the mafia and mob. Worse yet, many of those drug peddling syndicates and mafias had ties in one way or another to the terrorists’ organizations in Canada or out of Canada (Romi, Carrasco, Camors ; Masselli, 2017). As such, with the legalization of cannabis, such black-market dealers either will be driven out of business or be forced to engage in legit transactions through marijuana dispensaries. These weed dispensaries will be registered with the state, be taxed, and be regulated by the government. Ultimately, the medical and recreational users will access them without string attachments common in the black market.
-Reduce Gang-Related Drug Violence
Imperatively, gang-related drug violence is a common occurrence witnessed in many parts of Canada. However, with the legalization of recreational weed, such occurrences will be outdated. Having completely legalizing marijuana, the citizens whose rights are infringed due to gang-related drug violence would easily turn to police or courts system to seek redress instead of employing unlawful means to take revenge against the people who attacked them. In essence, the benefits of seeking help from police and the court system do not only extend to the victims of gang-related drug violence, but also the general public who have always been innocent victims of gang-related drug violence.
-Enabling the Justice System and the Police to Focus on Violent Crime
After the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis, two fundamental things are poised to happen. One, the legalization would give the police force and the court system more fund through tax revenue. Two, the police force and the judiciary will have adequate time to concentrate on crimes that are more violent. Imperatively, with increased funding, there would enough team to counter the crime rate. Moreover, enough time implies that detailed attention would be given to preventing violent crimes. Ideally, in many occasions, the police force and the judiciary tend to be beleaguered in attending cases of people accused of mere crimes of possessing weed. In essence, the challenge was that under the existing law, marijuana was equated with a prohibited drug such as heroin or cocaine and the people who were caught with possession of such drugs would be treated alike. As a result, the court system was crowded and the prison system became flooded as well. Therefore, legalization of weed would go a long way in easing the pressure on these overcrowded institutions of justice and the public servants serving in those institutions.
Health Promotion Benefits of Weed
It is undoubted that the legalization of ganja would enhance quality and safety control. For instance, like the recent expose about the fentanyl-laced-heroin, there were high chances for end users of weed would not know the quality of weed when they buy it in the black market or on the streets. However, legalization of ganja would come alongside an array of standards for quality and safety control. Imperatively, a set of standards of quality and safety has worked efficiently in other products such as alcohol and tobacco industries. It, therefore, implies that such success would certainly be transferred into the cannabis industry. Moreover, enhanced quality and safety control also transform into a reduced burden on the healthcare medical system.
Apart from promoting safety and quality control, legalization of weed is also essential in curing of certain deadly diseases like cancer, AIDS, glaucoma as discussed below.
Cancer is a disease that appears at large and is among the leading causes of death both in Canada and to the rest of the world. Sadly, the prevalence of cancer is only rising. This high prevalence rate has prompted some people to use weed to cure the disease. Essentially, anti-cancer properties of the cannabis such as CBD, THC, CBG, and cannabinoids well recognized (Yao, Chang, He, Wang ; Duan, 2016). The investigations about these properties date back in the 1970s and thousands of articles on the properties have been published.
In cancer tumor growths, the combination of THC and CBD characterizes strong effects against the growth. This is attributed to their ability to meddle with cellular communication in tumors and the ability to prompt apoptosis, which is a programmed cell death. Moreover, some studies suggest that CBD tend to influence genes responsible for aggressive metastasis by assisting in closing cellular growth receptors.
On the other side, THC, which is a psychoactive equivalent of CBD, is also associated with a reduction of tumor growth. The THC also has effects on metastasis rates for non-small cell lung cancer, which is among the top causes of cancer deaths worldwide. The studies on THC and extremely aggressive epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-expressing) lung cancer have indicated that some EGF lung cancer cells show CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors (Yao, Chang, He, Wang ; Duan, 2016). Reportedly also, THC influences the metastasis of the cancer cells when the focal adhesion complex that plays a crucial role of movement of cancer, is reduced.
When the CBD and THC effects are combined on various cancers such as prostate, colon, cervical, pancreas, brain, liver et cetera, there is a growing evidence that cannabinoids do not only act as antioxidant phytonutrients, but they also act as vital herbal chemotherapeutic agents. Briefly, cannabinoids do not have toxic effects on the normal and abnormal cells, unlike the standard chemotherapy that affects both the normal and abnormal cells.
Furthermore, it has also been established the weed is crucial in alleviating side effects occasioned by cancer treatment such lack of appetite and nausea. Besides, the weed is also resourceful in relieving depression, anxiety, mood disorders, and insomnia in cancer patients (Grill, Hasenoehrl, Storr ; Schicho, 2018). Arguably, however, some patients also find the exact contrary results. Moreover, there are significant outcomes of cannabis oil in several varied forms of cancer.
Among the leading properties of cannabis as a cancer therapy is its non-toxic nature, which ensures little harm. However, many experts maintain that conventional treatment options should never be ignored because it is not possible that all cancer cells would respond to cannabinoids in a similar manner. That is, the weed can help in some cancers and fail in some.
Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a condition that attacks the immune system of the body, which is a natural defense system by destroying protective white blood cells. Gradually, HIV lowers the number of white blood cells in the body, making it a problem for the body to fight infections (Salam ; Pozniak, 2017). As a result, opportunistic infections exploit the compromised immune system leading to deadly infections such as tuberculosis, cancer, pneumonia, and chronic diarrhea. If the HIV is not treated, it can progress into AIDs, which is the most serious stage of HIV infection. Several studies exist to support the effectiveness of medical weed in eradicating certain conditions associated with HIV/AIDS.
First, the medical weed arouses appetite that is always lacking among the HIV/AIDS patients coupled with the loss of body weight. As such, several studies have proved the medical weed therapy enhances appetite leading to increased body weight.
Cannabis can also eliminate nausea and vomiting. It is undoubted that the recent mixture of therapies has led to success in controlling HIV and even removing it from the list of terminal diseases to a chronic disorder. However, these therapies are associated with downsides since they give HIV/AIDS patients a future that makes their daily life miserable. However, cannabis would eliminate the prevalence of nausea and vomiting which is common as the disease progresses.
The medical weed also minimizes anxiety and enhances mood. It is reported that depression, anxiety, and mood disorders are common aspects of HIV/AIDS patients. They can be attributed to adverse psychological, social, and physiological pressures. However, the cannabis can be used to boost the patients’ mood and results in feelings of good effects that enhances self-confidence and euphoria.
Furthermore, medical weed is essential in relieving chronic pain (Salam & Pozniak, 2017). Typically, HIV/AIDS is characterized by great pain emanating from intricate sources in muscle, joint, and nerves. In addition, AIDS patients often experience neuropathic pain and burning sensation of the skin. However, despite the claims by AIDS patients that use of weed eases the neuropathic pain, no clinical study has confirmed such claims. However, THC has been proved effective in cancer pain, which also encompasses neuropathy. Therefore, it is an indication that THC can also be vital relief in HIV/AIDS-related pain.
Glaucoma is a disease affecting the optic nerve, which is responsible for relaying visual information from the eye to the brain. Therefore, damage to the optic nerve due to glaucoma can lead to blindness or vision loss (Higginbotham & Higginbotham, 2016). Globally, Glaucoma is among the major causes of blindness, affecting hundreds of millions of people. The condition is mostly presented in primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) form, which is a gradually progressive disorder that damages retina cells in the eye and dilapidates the optic nerve. Essentially, there are several treatment options available for the treatment of glaucoma such as laser treatment, surgery, and eye drop medication. However, some people do not respond to such treatment or fail to lower eye pressure, or even lead to undesirable side effects. In such cases, physicians or patients tend to seek alternative therapies.
Among the commonly used alternatives in glaucoma treatment is the treatment through medical marijuana based on the widespread belief that cannabis use does not lower the pressure at the eye lead. Therefore, with the legalization of cannabis in Canada for both recreational and medical uses, glaucoma patients may find an alternative remedy to their condition since some studies have indicated that smoking weed can lower eye pressure, both in normal persons and people who suffer from glaucoma. Particularly, glaucoma patients who cannot withstand conventional glaucoma medications may be best suited to use weed to sufficiently lower the eye pressure.
Typically, glaucoma is among the diseases that have been explored to evaluate the effect that medical weed has on intraocular pressure. While it has been established that the cannabis’ active ingredient, the THC does minimize pressure in the eyes, it can also reduce blood pressure. Adversely, however, the reduced blood pressure could also lead to more harm to the optic nerve due to the restriction of the blood supply. As such, it could worsen the vision loss in glaucoma. It, therefore, calls for a comprehensive long-term clinical test that determines the health of optic nerve and the eye pressure. Moreover, other studies also allude that THC can be vital in preserving the eye’s nerves.
Contrarily, there are many issues that are often ignored regarding the treatment of glaucoma with medical weed (Higginbotham & Higginbotham, 2016). For instance, the fact that the effects of marijuana on eye pressure are considerably short lived. It is estimated that the weed would only take about 3-4 hours while still effective in reducing eye pressure. In essence, it implies that patients who use medical cannabis in the treatment of glaucoma would need to use the weed at the intervals of 6-8 times daily to maintain the effectiveness.
Alternate Statement on the Benefits of Legalizing Marijuana
Despite the many benefits attributed to the legalization of marijuana, it is without a doubt that the legalization must also be associated with some cons. First, weed is believed to be addictive. Although there is divided opinion on the subject of addiction, with some claiming that weed addiction is significant like other drugs such as meth and crack, the fact remains that a good number of weed users develop dependence over time. Moreover, there is a high probability that second-hand smoke could be a challenge to non-smokers in a similar manner like adverse health consequences of second-hand smoking in a cigarette. Worse yet, recreational marijuana also leads to compromised mental health (Gundersen, 2015). These recreational weed users would experience limited blood flow to the brain, memory loss, and a higher probability of depression and schizophrenia. Furthermore, close to the compromised mental health, the grass is also attributed to alterations in perception. As a result, problems of impaired driving may ensue. Ordinarily, driving under the influence of weed could aggravate the existing problem of driving while high on alcohol and other substances.
Additionally, the weed has long been established as a gateway drug. Some studies have emerged indicating that once a person has tried the weed, there is more likelihood of trying harder and more unsafe drugs such as heroin and prescription painkillers. In essence, legalizing weed would facilitate an increment in the number of people who try marijuana and as a result, they would ultimately move harder drugs (Gundersen, 2015). Eventually, there would be more fiscal pressure on the health system and the communal reserves to offer treatment to these people when they ultimately develop severe health issues. Finally, ganja users are at increased risk of lungs problem. The smokers may develop respiratory problems similar to that found in tobacco smokers such as phlegm production and daily coughs. In many instances, they would experience severe chest illness and an advanced risk of lung infection. Ideally, certain studies exist disputing the possibility of getting lung cancer whether the drug is used heavily and regularly. However, other studies suggest that deeper and longer exposure to carcinogens potentially increases the possibility of lung cancer. Notably, though, the theory in support for lung cancer in marijuana use does not mention the distinct regularities in which marijuana user’s smoke to develop lung cancer. Neither do they consider the alternate methods of consumption such as edibles, vaporizing, and tinctures.
Legalization of the weed is poised to come along with many potential benefits. There would significant financial benefits as from the tax that will be imposed on the cannabis and the also the funds the government would save from public coffers that were formally used on prohibition legislation. As a result, the proceeds can be spent on the creation of public awareness and education, and health promotion initiatives. Moreover, the legalization would eradicate the criminal factors from the weed market and restrict the widespread black markets in Canada and its repercussions for the society. Fortunately, the government has taken measures to develop suitable strategies to keep the drug out of reach for minors, and to promote awareness and knowledge on destructive effects of the drug, thus, ensuring the effectiveness of legalization. Most importantly, the legalization of weed will also offer a great solution to the current medical issues facing Canada by offering alternative medications to certain serious diseases such as AIDS, cancer, and glaucoma that that is widespread in the country. On the other hand, legalization of weed will likely to cause some public health challenges including the excessive recreational use of weed, accidents, and injuries.
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