Marijuana Laws

Drug use and abuse is by no means a new phenomenon, but in the United
States the problems associated with drugs has recently received much
attention in the media, in politics, and in the scientific communities. In
particular, drug use among teenagers has been the focus of many studies.
Eric Sterling notes that “illegal drugs such as heroin and marijuana were
more easily available to high school seniors in 1998 than at any time in
history,” suggesting that drug control measures issued by the US government
are failing miserably. Marijuana has received the strictest criticism of
all the drugs in the illegal pharmacopeias, ostensibly because it is the
most popular illicit substance. An estimated 76% of Americans aged twelve
and over who use illicit drugs use marijuana; almost half of these people
don’t imbibe any other drug like cocaine or heroin (NIDA). The news is
peppered with drug-related death stories, most of which ironically do not
involve marijuana use but “harder” drugs like cocaine, crack, heroin,
amphetamines, and “designer” or “club” drugs like ecstasy and crystal
methamphetamine (crystal meth for short). On the contrary, marijuana has no
known overdose level. Still, the War on Drugs, which began decades before
Ronald Reagan officially launched the campaign, largely targets marijuana,
its users, buyers, and sellers. Officially classified as a drug with no
known medical benefits, marijuana has not received any worthwhile
laboratory treatment or objective scientific analysis as opiates or cocaine
has; many prescription pharmaceuticals pose greater health and addiction
risks than the hardy weed known botanically as cannabis sativa. The real
drug problem in the United States, therefore, is not the widespread use of
marijuana, although marijuana use does incur many detrimental psychological
and physical side effects. Rather, the drug epidemic in America is
bolstered and propagated …

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