Literature review- should marijuana be legalised?

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1 April 2016

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The legalisation of marijuana has long been a debated subject, and not only in Australia But all around the world. People’s views in this area vary greatly, with many reasonable arguments for and against the issue. In this report, past studies and literature will be reviewed providing an understanding into the possible consequences of legalising marijuana as well as the views and debates regarded to the issue. The organisation, Gallup has been examining America’s attitude towards the legalisation of marijuana since the late 1960’s. Their studies show that in the past Americans have been opposed to the issue, with just twelve percent supporting the drug’s legalisation in 1969. However, in 1977 this number increased to 25 percent, and in 2000 rose again to 31 percent (Carroll, 2005). According to a new study by Gallop, the amount of Americans in favour of marijuana’s legalisation today has now soared to a riveting fifty percent.

Including people between the ages of eighteen and twenty nine most in favour of its legalisation, and people sixty five and older proved to be most opposed to it (daily mail reporter, 2011) A predominant question in the debate relating to the legalization of marijuana is whether consumption would rise and by how much. Many people are concerned that if the drug became legal it would become more accessible, affordable, and acceptable in society, making an increase in consumption a big possibility. Rand, a drug policy research centre, conducted a study that supports this argument. “Results from these studies suggest that regular use of marijuana will Increase both in prevalence and in terms of average level of use with a fall in the monetary price of marijuana and a reduction in the enforcement risk of using marijuana. The precise increase in use, particularly in terms of average quantities consumed among users, remains unclear because of inadequate analyses of conditional demand.

However, it is clear that the number (prevalence) of regular users will rise in response to both (Pacula, 2010).” According to Rand there is still an uncertainty towards how much marijuana consumption will increase post-legalisation, however, their models suggest that numbers could increase by fifty to one hundred percent or more. This would depend on the retail price, availability, advertisement and the federal response (Kilmer, 2010). If more people are using the drug, more people will be open to the health disadvantages marijuana has on the human body. The primary reason why marijuana has been illegal in the past is because the drug does have many adverse health effects. In the same way the government protects people on the road by making them wear seatbelts; they also want to protect members of society from falling to the consequences involved with consuming marijuana.

The government does have a certain level of responsibility over the safety of society, which is why many people believe that marijuana should remain illegal. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has surveyed and conducted many scientific research projects, all showing that excessive marijuana use has a serious effect on a user’s memory, social skills and capability to be educated (buddy, 2006). Intensive use can also lead to many long term effects such as depression, anxiety and personality disorders as well as an increased risk of getting bronchitis, lung cancer and other diseases of the respiratory system (NSW Government, 2011).

Despite these effects of marijuana usage, it has proved that marijuana is no more harmful than legal substances like alcohol and tobacco. Which brings into question, why should marijuana be illegal when alcohol and tobacco consumption is allowed? An investigation by the British Medical Association actually went on to prove that alcohol and tobacco are far more addictive than marijuana. In fact, the drinking of alcohol and the use of cigarettes result in more deaths per year than does the use of marijuana.(marijuana safety, 1999) ” Alcohol is more toxic, more addictive, more harmful to the body, more likely to result in injuries, and more likely to lead to interpersonal violence than marijuana” (safer choice,2010) If marijuana were to be legalised it could provide a safer alternative to alcohol and more harmful drugs.

Substituting these drugs with marijuana could be a successful approach to the battle against substance abuse. Amanda Reiman describes what she has found in her study about the substitution of other drugs with marijuana. “Substituting cannabis for alcohol has been described as a radical alcohol treatment protocol. This approach could be used to address heavy alcohol use in the British Isles – people might substitute cannabis, a potentially safer drug than alcohol with less negative side effects, if it were socially acceptable and available.”( Reiman, 2009) Similar studies in this area went on to suggest that legalising marijuana will decrease road accidents. By viewing statistics in areas where the drug has been allowed, researchers have found that there was nearly a nine percent reduction in traffic deaths (science daily, 2011).

Marijuana has actually proved to have many medical uses, although sometimes they are completely overlooked. In the past, many studies have shown the drug to have several beneficial effects, these include, effective pain relief as well as providing aid to the side effects of chemotherapy and the symptoms of AIDS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma and other serious illnesses.(co-ed magazines, 2010) In 1997, the National Institutes of Health published a report specifying the possible medical uses for marijuana. The report emphasized five areas of medical care that were most applicable. These included Stimulation of appetite and decreased cachexia, Controlled nausea and vomiting linked with cancer chemotherapy, Decreased intraocular pressure, pain relief and finally, the benefits in area of Neurological and movement disorders By allowing marijuana consumption the government would be providing many people with a cheaper and effective alternative for pain relief and other medical impairments.

Legalisation could also lead to further medical research and findings on the medical uses of the drug.( National Institutes of Health, 1997) ‘Though the benefits of medical marijuana are ignored by the federal government, many scientists seemingly agree that the benefits of marijuana from a medicinal standpoint heavily out weigh the risk when it comes to aiding patients’ (Gallagher, 2012) When looking at marijuana legalisation from an economic perspective many advantages are noted. a study lead by Dr. Jeffrey Miron reported that once legalised, If marijuana were to be taxed similarly to the taxation system used on alcoholic and tobacco products, Governments could be looking at annual savings and revenues of up to fourteen billion each year.

This includes savings in areas like prohibition enforcement which is said to be around 7.7 billion dollars. Over 500 other economists are supporting Dr. Jeffrey Miron’s study and are calling for a debate considering the reason and basis behind marijuana prohibition. (Miron, 2005) Overall, views on the legalisation of marijuana vary greatly among the people of Australia and the world. Past literature and in depth studies have revealed many advantages and disadvantages in regards to the drugs legalisation. Society’s arguments are centred around, the effects on marijuana consumption, health effects, health benefits, economic advantages and its harmfulness in regards to other legal drugs.

Vandaelle, I. (2012, Janurary 17). Majority of Canadians support legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana, new poll suggests. Retrieved 2012, from National Post: 10 Major Health Benefits of Marijuana. (2010, September 2). Retrieved 2012, from Coed magazine: Cannabis is The Answer To Booze Problems. (2011, October 16). Retrieved 2012, from Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Traffic Deaths, Preliminary Research Suggests. (2011, November 29). Retrieved 2012, from science Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Traffic Deaths, Preliminary Research Suggests . (2011, november 30). Retrieved 2012, from The rational response squad: Record high: Gallup poll shows FIFTY per cent of Americans favour legalising marijuana. (2011, october 18). Retrieved 2012, from mail online: Carroll, J. (2005, November 1). Who Supports Marijuana Legalization? Retrieved 2012, from GALLUP: Debate on legalising marijuana . (n.d.). Retrieved 2012, from Hun pages: Gallagher, P. (2012, April 30). Are the benifits of medical marijuana being completely overlooked. Retrieved 2012, from Activist Post: Kilmer, B. (2010, September). Insights on the Effects of. Retrieved 2012, from Rand:

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"Literature review- should marijuana be legalised?" StudyScroll, 1-Apr-2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 27-Sep-2022]

StudyScroll. (2016). Literature review- should marijuana be legalised?. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 27-Sep-2022]

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