DEVIL’S ADVOCATE: Should we legalise weed?

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Yes

Nicolas Cassela

Tobacco related deaths a year: 435,000.

Alcohol related deaths a year: 85,000             

Marijuana related deaths (ever): 0  

Now call me crazy. Call me a druggie. In fact, call me Bob Marley reincarnate, but how in the world is cannabis not legal? Just look at statistics like the ones above, and I ask, how can any rational being not see that there is something wrong here? We live in a society where you can walk into a pub and order alcohol, stroll down the street and suck away at a cigarette or pop aspirin in the comfort of your own home. But God forbid you smoke a joint, you drug addict!

I don’t know the exact recipe for alcohol, but I’m pretty sure it’s not a naturally occurring substance. There’s a very intricate system where you have to manipulate substances like barley to create that perfect pint. Cigarettes? Well, those consist of tobacco, paper and arsenic. What about aspirin? To quote the comedian Katt Williams, ‘you take thirteen of them mother*******s, that’ll be your last headache’.

In spite of this, ask your friends and family whether they consider any of these drugs. Most likely you’ll get a resounding ‘no!’. Now ask them the same question about marijuana. Well, I think you know the answer. So why the double standard? Simple: brazen propagation of misinformation to scare people. When you have figures like President Ronald Reagan claiming that he had ‘absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast’-you know there’s a serious hidden agenda going on. But I guess when you’ve spent over 39 billion dollars on the War On Drugs (as the US has) politicians have a lot to lose if they say ‘Sorry guys, cannabis wasn’t really that bad after all!’. 

 Doesn’t such blatant falsification raise some alarm bells for you? This article is not saying everyone should put down this newspaper and light one up, it’s saying we shouldn’t criticise the falsified image of marijuana and instead seek the actual truth behind the Mary Jane. If you uncover that, you’ll agree with the words of Reggae legend Peter Toh – ‘legalise it’

No

Emma Hinds

Starting with my hands held up, I admit that cannabis is not the worst drug out there. But in this spirit, we must also concede that it’s not just a fluffy, friendly drug. With 400 variants of ingredients and increasing levels of dosage, possible side effects are inconclusive, but range from getting the munchies to psychotic paranoia. Legalising cannabis for medicinal purposes might seem like a good idea, but the price is high: adolescent users becoming the guinea pig generation for conclusive studies in cannabis side effects.  

Studies in Australia have already shown that adolescents between ages 14-15 who use cannabis are five times more likely to develop depression, and three major studies revealed that if a teenager starts smoking cannabis before the age of 15 they are four times more likely to develop a psychotic illness by the time they are 26. Due to the still-developing nature of their brains, young adolescents are vulnerable to cannabis use in a way adults are not.  

We can herald legalisation for adults alone as a solution, but are we so blind to assume that if we make a substance legal from age 18, it will never reach the hands of youth?  We can talk about the maturity of adolescents and the value of education, but when we don’t trust a 13 year old to vote or drive, why would we trust them to make an informed decision about their health? Especially when we know that every school in the country teaches the dangers of nicotine and tobacco, and yet approximately 90 percent of all smokers still start before they are 18.   

Perhaps an appropriate response is: ‘since kids will ignore us anyway, what’s the point?’  But despite the will of the child, don’t we believe that the government has a duty to protect the vulnerable? Don’t we believe that parents deserve support from the government to protect their children from harm? Don’t we also believe that as adults, we have a responsibility towards the next generation? To make it better, more responsible than we could ever be? It is at this point, I believe, that it is topical to cry; ‘Think of the Children!’

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