The Legalization Of Medical Marijuana: Misuse Inevitable– A Personal Perspective
The Legalization Of Medical Marijuana: Misuse Inevitable– A Personal Perspective
Written By   |   12.20.11
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The legalization of “medical” marijuana is certainly a complicated issue. I am against legislation that would sanction the use of this drug for a number of reasons. I do not want to sound as though I have a lack of compassion regarding the use of cannabis in the treatment of cancer, glaucoma and other diseases. For example, there are physicians who claim medical marijuana reduces the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy in cancer patients.

Though I am not an expert on pharmaceuticals, I know there are drugs which contain THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana, which are available to patients by prescription. However, California–which has legalized medicinal marijuana–should be seen as an example of how the drug, when legalized, is being misused.

The legalization of medical marijuana has been a disaster in cities like San Francisco,where entire blocks are now shopping centers for marijuana. Many individuals sell their “medical” marijuana to young people in order to purchase harder drugs for themselves and to sell to others.

My personal experience is that marijuana is a gateway drug. Ninty percent of the people I knew who went on to use heavier drugs began their drug usage with marijuana. It’s not easy sharing one’s personal history, but I believe the things we experience in life, both negative and positive, should be used as guideposts.

For a number of years in my youth, I had a substance abuse problem. I also eventually counseled young people on the dangers of drug addiction from a personal perspective. Almost in unison, every individual who has had a substance abuse problem or counseled those suffering from drug addiction, agree that marijuana is a gateway drug.

This is not to say that every individual who smokes marijuana is doomed to become a meth head, crack cocaine or heroin addict. But, there is one absolute that no one can deny if medicinal marijuana is legalized–more young people and, for that matter adults, will experiment with the drug because it will become more readily accessible. Alcoholism is a prime example which proves my point. Alcohol is legal. Subsequently, there are more alcoholics in America than there are drug addicts. Already the use of marijuana by young people is at the highest levels in our nation’s history. In addition, the use of methamphetamines has become a scourge on our land.

At one time, drug addiction was a problem which mostly affected those in the inner city. Today, the use of illegal narcotics has spread through out the country, no matter socio-economic strata or geography. In the past, one had to be wealthy to feed a drug habit. This is why the introduction of crack cocaine in the 1980’s with its relatively low cost led to an explosion of its use. Cocaine used to be called the “rich man’s drug.” At one time, it was even considered chic to use the drug.

Some say smoking marijuana is far less harmful than the physiological effects of alcohol. There are organizations, like NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), which are openly advocating for the legalization of marijuana. Indeed, this group sees the legalization of medical marijuana as a mere stepping stone to achieve their ultimate goal.

However, let me get back to the psychology regarding the disease of drug addiction. And please take note that I do believe drug addiction and alcoholism are diseases, but they are self-inflicted diseases which result from disastrous choices made in life.

The first drug I ever used was marijuana. When I learned I didn’t drop dead after smoking a joint, I lost my fear regarding experimentation with other drugs. And I can unequivocally say a vast majority of my former friends who became addicted to drugs like cocaine and heroin took their first step down the path of destruction because of that seemingly innocent first experience with marijuana. If you noticed, I said former friends because most of these individuals are now dead. Drug addiction sapped their human potential and ultimately destroyed their spirits, minds and finally their bodies. Not every one of these people died from a drug overdose, but I can safely say their demise was in some way related to their addictions. Many of these people were raised in good, middle-class suburban families, but they had the misfortune of growing up in a time when the dangers of drugs were misrepresented in the culture of the 1960’s and 70’s.

There will be those who will scoff at what I’m saying here. They will call me an alarmist and “someone who knows not of what he speaks.” But I truly wish I never had to go through what I experienced in life. Sometimes I feel guilty because I blame the friend who offered me that first “toke” off a marijuana cigarette. The individual who turned me on to marijuana was a good person, and I know if he had any idea of what was to come for me by sharing his marijuana with me, he would have never started me down a path filled with regret, remorse and sorrow.

There will also be those who will say young people are more informed these days regarding the dangers of drug addiction. There are also individuals with good intentions who truly believe the legalization of medicinal marijuana is something that is compassionate.

I’ll leave the decision over whether or not the legalization of medical marijuana is a good thing, but there will be consequences which cannot be denied or underestimated. All I can do is share my story which is also the experience of millions of other Americans. Nearly every family in America has been touched in some way by substance abuse–whether it be themselves, a family member or a good friend.

Fifteen states have already legalized medical marijuana. Eight more states will soon decide whether they will follow suit–either by ballot measures or by legislative means. Illinois’ General Assembly will probably vote on the issue of legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes within weeks. I personally urge every Illinois legislator to vote “NO” on this issue. The related consequences by making an illegal drug more accessible is simply too high a price to pay–in many ways.

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