Battle #3 : Marijuana should be legalized – MDI Gurgaon – AGAINST

So, Lord Shiva had a love for it, and so should you? And now two U.S. states have legalised it and so should we? The human mind has an impeccable quality of contorting facts for convenience. Legalisation of marijuana, an incendiary topic for years now uses this excuse to its utmost advantage. Why not look at the flip side of the above stories. Well for starters, Lord Shiva was Lord, not a lesser mortal, and what about the other myriad deities we revere, were they too proponents of the grass? And if Washington and Colorado have picked up the crusade for legalisation, why not look at the other countries that still haven’t?

 

World-cannabis-laws

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_cannabis_by_country1

 

The case for and against psychoactive substances has always been one of influencing and being influenced. Let us start the argument with the very basics:

So, what is marijuana? 6

– A drug produced from the Cannabis sativa (hemp) or Cannabis indica.
– It’s essentially a plant belonging to the category of nettles, believed to have originated in India (Central & south Asia).
– Marijuana is more commonly known as bhang, hasish, charas, ganja, pot, grass or weed.
– Cannabis or tetrahydrocannabino (THC), is the key ingredient which determines the “high”, induced.

 

The point is to understand, that with the push for legalisation of this “drug”, why is it that people are rushing to get “high”? The most common argument is that weed is a natural substance that soothes you and boosts productivity. Well, yes it’s natural, but all it does is create emotionally crippled adults, not “soothed” ones; because, it turns you into an escapist. An age where young people need to learn how to cope up with their subliminal emotions, the drug instead creates individuals incapable of handling anxiety and other extreme emotions. As far as productivity is concerned, let us look at the facts pointed out by ‘drugfreeworld.org’5, 4:

 

SHORT-TERM EFFECTS

– Anxiety pangs
– Poor coordination of movement and or distortion of sensory reception
– Reduced reaction time
– After an initial kick or “high”, the user complains of feeling sleepy or depressed
– Risk of heart attack

 

LONG-TERM EFFECTS

– Reduced immunity (more susceptible to colds, bronchitis, etc.)
– Stunted growth in teenagers
– Increase of abnormally structured cells in the body, greater incidences of cancer especially leukaemia
– Reduction in male sex hormones, sexual performance and sperm count
– Rapid destruction of lung fibres
– Likelihood of permanent injuries to the brain
– Reduced ability to learn and retain information
– Personality and mood changes
– Grasping, concentration and understanding capabilities are reduced

 

Do you believe the drug dealer and the “soothing effect” crusaders, tell you all this? There are numerous other reasons that youth have listed as to how marijuana acts as a ‘problem fixer’:

 

– To fit in / To experiment with the “cool substances” (peer pressure)
– To escape the harsh realities of life
– To seem grown up/ To rebel against societal norms

 

Even a quick glance through the list can tell you that weed is not the answer.

The whole essence of the above rhetoric is that legalisation of the drug will only put it in the spotlight; it will only embolden the championed cause that the ‘natural substance’ does no harm. But as with all well designed marketing campaigns, this one too comes with the quintessential ‘conditions applied’. And the basic condition that remains inconspicuously hidden in small letters somewhere in the argument is ‘moderation’ i.e.  weed, in moderation does more good than harm. Even if that is true, who defines moderation and most importantly who regulates it? And mind you, moderation does not come easy to the human mind. “drugfreeworld.org” puts it succinctly as follows:

Once the threshold stamina is crossed, and marijuana stops giving the desired kick, the resultant situation can lead users to consume harder drugs like cocaine and LSD to achieve the same high. Without this, the person loses balance of mind and reaches a stage of desperation, even chronic depression. Another reason why the person may turn to these more potent drugs is to rid himself of the unwanted conditions that caused him to take marijuana in the first place. Marijuana covers up the problem for a while (till the kick is in); once the “high” fades, the unwanted condition returns more intensely than before. The user may then seek refuge in harder drugs since the marijuana no longer does the trick for him.

Majority of cocaine users (99.9%) began by first using a “gateway or entry level drug” like marijuana, cigarette or alcohol and primarily due to peer pressure. We are not saying that everyone who smokes marijuana goes on to use harder drugs and never breaks free of the vicious cycle, only a few  manage to completely quit marijuana altogether.

But a rather disturbing study on the conversion rate of youth from being a marijuana user to a cocaine addict states that youth (12 to 17 years older) who use marijuana are 85 times more likely to use cocaine in future that ones who do not. The study paints another glum picture by bringing to light the fact that 60% of kids who smoke pot before the age of 15 move on to be cocaine addicts.

As a final stroke to the argument, here’s a compilation of reasons that vociferously support the cause of not allowing legalisation of marijuana:

1. Youth – Perhaps the most important question is: Is it good for Indian children? If marijuana were to become more accessible and acceptable in our country, like cigarettes are, substance abuse problems would rise, especially among the youth. Marijuana use can harm the developmental and long-term health of youth (physical), plus it can stunt learning ability (mental).

2. Medical Community– The scientific research community does not support the healing claims of “medical marijuana”. Several health organizations, the world over have only approved certain prescription pill products and only those containing safe and effective isolated components of the cannabis plant.

3. Spike in social costs expected – Social costs of legalizing marijuana would far exceed sales tax revenues. The expected costs could come from increased drug treatment, crime, health care, road accidents, school drop-outs, etc. Our country which is already grappling with rampant poverty, high crime rates and a lacking retribution and judicial system can absolutely not do with this additional burden. A classic case in point is the analogy of cigarette smoking which is legalised but restricted in India. The associated disclaimer has no effects and setting off the revenues collected are the health costs incurred every year.

4. Hindrance to economic growth – Worker marijuana use is associated with more absences, shabbiness and workers’ turnover. This directly affects productivity and hence the economic development of the country, whose economy is finally picking up.

5. Health and well-being concerns – Marijuana use negatively impacts respiratory systems, memory and judgment. It causes anxiety, psychosis and even depression once the high fades off. The user even falls into a loop which pushes him to abuse of harder drugs.

 

We as a society really need to introspect on, where we are heading towards when we talk about legalising something as lethal and noxious as Marijuana. What next? Legalising cocaine, legalising methamphetamine? Are we not as a society then moving towards a dystopian future? Is this what we really want our kids to grow up to? Don’t we as a society already have our hands full with legalized intoxicating agents that we want to add to our misery?

Instead of legalizing Marijuana, substance abuse should be strictly dealt with. By legalizing Marijuana we are actually propagating the idea; if you can’t beat them, join them. I appeal to everyone, let us not fall weak as a society, let us not give in to those powers, let us not pave a way for delinquency. Instead let us join hands and build a better future. Instead of running head-on towards an apocalyptic future, let us join hands and help those who have unfortunately fallen victim to this menace called Marijuana.

We can setup rehabilitation centres, provide employment assistance, educate, and reinstate the victims to back to normalcy. If we all can work cohesively towards removing Marijuana abuse, there will come a time in future when a topic like this would not be debated upon.

References:

1.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_cannabis_by_country

2.) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-howard-samuels/legalizing-marijuana_b_4144180.html

3.) http://www.calmca.org/

4.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_cannabis

5.) http://www.drugfreeworld.org/#/interactive

6.)http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/The-joint-campaign-Should-we-not-legalize-recreational-use-of-Cannabis/articleshow/17165613.cms?referral=PM

 

MDI, Gurgaon

Team Ruskin

Vinti Narula

Debayan Roy

Comments

14 comments

IIT Kanpur MBA

When I read the topic, I was almost with the team writing against the topic; i.e. MDI. But the moment I googled the term “Marijuana”, the results were astonishing to my surprise.
According to Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the leading organization promoting drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights; the following facts are stated upfront, which I find totally contradicting with your argument.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S. and the world, and was a well-established medicine until it was federally criminalized in 1937. A majority of Americans believe marijuana should be legally regulated.
• Most marijuana users never use any other illicit drug.
• Marijuana potency is not related to risk of dependence or health impacts.
• Marijuana does not cause mental health problems.
• Marijuana can be protective against the formation of cancer.
• Marijuana has been proven helpful for treating the symptoms of a variety of medical conditions.
• Rates of marijuana use among young people tend to DECREASE when a state adopts medical marijuana.
• Marijuana does not cause long-term cognitive impairment in adult users.
• There is no compelling evidence that marijuana contributes substantially to traffic accidents and fatalities.

Going by these facts, your stand appears quite weak on the grounds of health and social issues. Please correct me if these facts are overstated or wrongly interpreted.
I’d also like to know, why should people be punished for what they put into their own bodies while they should only be “strictly dealt” for crimes committed against others?

Vinti

In reply to Mr. Ketan Bagga,

These two points first,
– Marijuana does not cause long-term cognitive impairment in adult users.
– Marijuana does not cause mental health problems.

The following excerpt has been directly quoted from US government website.
“The highest density of cannabinoid receptors is found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement. Marijuana overactivates the endocannabinoid system, causing the “high” and other effects that users experience. These effects include altered perceptions and mood, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory.

Marijuana also affects brain development, and when it is used heavily by young people, its effects on thinking and memory may last a long time or even be permanent. A recent study of marijuana users who began using in adolescence revealed substantially reduced connectivity among brain areas responsible for learning and memory. And a large long-term study in New Zealand showed that people who began smoking marijuana heavily in their teens lost an average of 8 points in IQ between age 13 and age 38. Importantly, the lost cognitive abilities were not fully restored in those who quit smoking marijuana as adults.”

venkatkiyer

“Perhaps the most important question is: Is it good for Indian children? If marijuana were to become more accessible and acceptable in our country, like cigarettes are, substance abuse problems would rise, especially among the youth. Marijuana use can harm the developmental and long-term health of youth (physical), plus it can stunt learning ability (mental)”

Firstly, there is no reputed medical study that conclusively proves stunted mental growth with marijuana use. Hence, that argument doesn’t hold good. Secondly, regarding children, parents are their guardians and are supposed to make sure that they do not consume things harmful to them. Cigarettes cause cancer, but they’re legal. Marijuana doesn’t and it still is banned. If we start banning everything that impacts children, then adults should cease to exist and we should go to work in toy-cycles and drink nothing but milk.

Free will is an important parameter here. Selling to the vulnerable (children) is unethical, but it is wrong to say that the product itself will harm the child directly. As adults, if we stop smoking cigarettes, our children would not do so. Banning cigarettes or Marijuana is not the solution. Arguing for its demerits (proven with sound studies) and letting the individual make the choice is the way to go. Let us not further constrain our society which has huge walls of its own.

Kishore Pisapati

More or less, your stand is a logical and optimistic one.

The problem with the facts is this. If you go and ask around a Marijuana user why he’s one, or whether he’s aware of its effects – mostly you’ll get answers in the affirmative.
Ignorance isn’t really the reason.
I think for most people, it is a general non-chalant attitude towards life. They would pretty much align with the reasons people smoke.
But yes I agree that banning it is not the solution. Today’s generation wants to try everything no matter what, and banning wouldn’t make a difference to that.
The rehab centers could be a good start for those actually seeking help.
For the current generation, I think direct awareness will not work. It has to be different, and powerfully subtle, in order to connect with the masses. (Drawing an analogy to the preference of sarcasm over direct humor nowadays)

ankurdewan06

Well constructed article with responsible approach. It is imperative for us to leave a better world for our future generation.

Kriti Wahi

Mr. Ketan Bagga..I couldn’t help but notice some serious flaws in the arguments you have presented.
1. That Marijuana ‘prevents formation of cancer’ – Well, if you read the articles you have quoted carefully, you will realize that you have wrongly interpreted the statement. Marijuana does not prevent formation of cancer in a person who is not diseased in the first place. When used on tissue samples of cancer patients, Marijuana has been observed to have a therapeutic effect, in that it kills the cancer cells in the tissue while not effecting the normal cells, thereby preventing ‘spread’ of cancer, and not its ‘prevention’. This clearly supports medicinal use of marijuana, which is anyway legal in India and elsewhere.
We are here talking about recreational use of the grass, which by the way, does not prevent cancer. So pot smokers hugging themselves with glee believing that they are protecting their bodies against cancer really need to double check their facts.
2. Rates of marijuana use tends to decrease when state adopts medical marijuana? Seriously? I mean, even if the fact is statistically correct (though I highly doubt the relevance, considering statistics could be manipulated when medicinal marijuana comes into the picture, but since the source is an official body, let’s accept it), what are we really talking about here? Medical marijuana is legal in India, last I checked. Is it decreasing recreational use? I doubt. Second, what are you really advocating? Your statement implies that decreasing use of marijuana is a desirable state, which counters your overall take on the topic. Medical marijuana should anyway be promoted, for the simple fact that it can save lives. Why does decreasing addiction come into the picture?
3. No compelling evidence that marijuana contributes substantially to accidents: Well, should we wait for a significant number of deaths before making the right move? Try observe a pot smoker when he/she is stoned. You’ll realize why the person is not fit to be out among the public, let alone drive. People high on Bhaang after a Holi celebration would make a great example. And as an after thought, the statistics around accidents due to pot could be incorrect, considering that an average traffic policeman is not equipped enough to conclusively tell if a person has used marijuana. He would have to detain the driver and send blood samples for lab testing. More often then not, the policeman will let the person pass, and the incident will never get reflected in numbers. This is not the case with alcohol, where a simple breath test can determine alcohol consumption and therefore add to the statistics.

Hemant Agarwal

Mr Bagga :

Marijuana does have harmful effects
http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/marijuana/the-harmful-effects.html

Marijuana changes the structure of sperm cells, deforming them. Thus even small amounts of marijuana can cause temporary sterility in men. Marijuana use can upset a woman’s menstrual cycle.

So i see you are for birth control … legalize marijuana in long term reduce human re productivity and voila birth control issue solved . Awesome no one ever thought of that before !!!

Protective against cancer :

Are you kidding me .. there is no significant amount of research done to support this.

Marijuana doesn’t play high role in accidents .. well i also trust Google as you mentioned:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2014/06/09/marijuana-accidents/10219119/
This article by leading and trusted daily is contradictory .. no no I trust you after all your statement is more trustworthy than a leading US Daily isn’t it ??

“Rates of marijuana use among young people tend to DECREASE when a state adopts medical marijuana.”
Any research link of either states …. ??

IIT Kanpur MBA

Thank you really, Ms. Kriti and Mr. Hemant, for not being part of the competition, but still taking your time out and putting forth your valid arguments, or opinion I should say.
Your points really made me skeptical by my earlier research on the topic and hence I had to do the research yet again and come up with “facts” and the sources of course, so that I need not quote any newspaper articles rather the analysis to be based on studies and research being conducted in this domain. Here are my same points but with explanation and sources attached with each one of them. Hope I need not reiterate the things again.
Most marijuana users never use any other illicit drug.
Most marijuana users never use any other illegal drug and the vast majority of those who do try another drug never become addicted or go on to have associated problems. Indeed, for the large majority of people, marijuana is a terminus rather than a so-called gateway drug. New evidence suggests that marijuana can function as an “exit drug” helping people reduce or eliminate their use of more harmful drugs by easing withdrawal symptoms.
Source: http://www.drugpolicy.org/drug-facts/10-facts-about-marijuana/sources#other_drugs

Marijuana potency is not related to risk of dependence or health impacts.
When access is regulated and controlled, like in medical marijuana states, we see a wider variety of potencies, including marijuana with virtually no traces of psychoactive THC but high in cannabidiol (CBD), which is highly therapeutic but not psychoactive. THC is virtually non-toxic to healthy cells or organs, and is incapable of causing a fatal overdose. Currently, doctors may legally prescribe Marinol, an FDA-approved pill that contains 100 percent THC – but, critically, lacks other therapeutic, non-psychoactive compounds found in marijuana. The Food and Drug Administration found THC to be safe and effective for the treatment of nausea, vomiting and wasting diseases. When consumers encounter strong varieties of marijuana, they adjust their use accordingly and smoke less.
Source: http://www.drugpolicy.org/drug-facts/10-facts-about-marijuana/sources#potency

IIT Kanpur MBA

More evidences:

Marijuana does not cause mental health problems.

Many opponents of medical marijuana make much of the purported link between marijuana use and mental illness. But there is simply no compelling evidence to support the claim that marijuana is a causal risk factor for developing a psychiatric disorder in otherwise healthy individuals. Emerging evidence indicates that patients who have tried marijuana may show significant improvements in symptoms and clinical outcomes (such as lower mortality rates and better cognitive functioning ) compared with those who have not. In fact, some of the unique chemicals in marijuana, such as cannabidiol (CBD), seem to have anti-psychotic properties.
In fact, research suggests that those with mental illness might be self-medicating with marijuana. One study demonstrated that psychotic symptoms predict later use of marijuana, suggesting that people might turn to the plant for help rather than become ill after use.
These findings have been replicated by myriad other studies, including a new study conducted by Harvard University researchers, which found that marijuana “is unlikely to be the cause of illness,” even in people who may be genetically predisposed to schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders.

Marijuana can be protective against the formation of cancer.

A 2009 population-based case-control study found that moderate marijuana smoking over a 20-year period was associated with reduced risk of head and neck cancer. And a five-year-long population-based case-control study found even long-term heavy marijuana smoking was not associated with lung cancer or upper aerodigestive tract cancers.[5] In fact, some of the chemicals in marijuana, such as THC and especially CBD, have been found to induce tumor cell death and show potential as effective tools in treating cancer. Moreover, marijuana smoking is not associated with any other permanent lung harms, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), emphysema or reduced lung function – even after years of frequent use.
Source: http://www.drugpolicy.org/drug-facts/10-facts-about-marijuana/sources#cancer

IIT Kanpur MBA

For you, Mr. Agarwal.

Rates of marijuana use among young people tend to DECREASE when a state adopts medical marijuana.
A common concern raised by people opposed to removing marijuana from the illicit market is the impact on teen marijuana use. Several recent reports have examined that question and found that, in the majority of medical marijuana states, youth used decreased after the medical marijuana law was passed. This has been attributed to a diminishing of the “forbidden fruit” effect, and decreased access as marijuana moved from the streets to inside licensed dispensaries.
A recent study sought to determine the effect of medical marijuana laws on adolescent marijuana use. The authors concluded, “Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that the legalization of medical marijuana caused an increase in the use of marijuana and other substances among high school students. In fact, estimates from our preferred specification are small, consistently negative, and are never statistically distinguishable from zero. Using the 95 percent confidence interval around these estimates suggests that the impact of legalizing medical marijuana on the probability of marijuana use in the past 30 days is no larger than 0.8 percentage points, and the impact of legalization on the probability of frequent marijuana use in the past 30 days is no larger than 0.7 percentage points.
In addition to the impact on youth use, the decriminalization of marijuana has not been found to have an impact on adult use. A study conducted by the Institute of Medicine concluded, “In sum, there is little evidence that decriminalization of marijuana use necessarily leads to a substantial increase in marijuana use.”

Source: http://www.drugpolicy.org/drug-facts/10-facts-about-marijuana/sources#youth

IIT Kanpur MBA

And there are many more I can quote here, but the thing is we can always agree to disagree. I personally believe that the consumption of a SUPPOSED “non-harmful” drug should be left on the discretion of the individual rather than law.
Lastly, thank you Vinti for bringing out so many points on the table and for this healthy discussion. Good luck to your team!

jamgood

guyz are you kidding me ..the article is bull shit…cannabis is medicine….which heals or cures you…if you dont legalise this herb…people are going to die in pain….any one who wants to see world peace should legalise herb…which have 50000 + uses along with paper,medicine,fuel,food and cement….this wonderful is gift from god…it was ages back for every thing…queen vicotria used cannabis used as medicine for her menustral cramps…google it and find out truth…

jamgood

it should be legalised world wide for its medicinal propertites…..its not drung…it is medincine….only cure for cancer.