Ted Knapp, co-author of the 'FLC Law and Society, Science Health and Environment' blog posted an opinion piece on why cannabis should not be legalized. I took the opportunity to respond and have copied my comment below. The full post by Ted is available here.
I would like to take the opportunity to respond to this post. I have been researching the effects of cannabis and its medicinal uses for around 30 years now, and continue to do so. Due to the length of this comment, I may also post the response on my blog.
Your first few statements:
"I think it is safe to say that marijuana is a gateway drug. Not many marijuana users decide to just stick with marijuana-most who do smoke cannabis lack even that kind of rational decission making. I believe that Marijuana leads to the adventurous travel to other drugs, since their drug provider sells multiple drugs, and the "highs" are not as satisfying after awhile of using marijuana."
Past research suggesting that cannabis is a 'gateway drug', has been superseded by research that suggests that drug use in general is based on a propensity to use drugs. That is, it doesn't matter whether your first experience with drug use is cannabis, alcohol or even cocaine. If you are of a particular mindset, you will most likely try other drugs. Most research papers, even those that do suggest cannabis is a 'gateway drug', summarize their finding by suggesting that even though cannabis is often the first illegal drug a person tries, it is not necessarily the cause of harder drug use. You should also realise that cannabis is the fourth most used drug in the United States, behind Alcohol, Tobacco and Caffeine. Using these fatcs, it could be concluded that coffee is a gateway drug as well. Research conducted in Amsterdam (one of the first countries to decriminalize cannabis) has found that users of cannabis in the main, do not move on to harder drugs.
There is no evidence to support your opinion that drug 'providers' sell other stronger drugs. Generally, you will find that cannabis dealers avoid selling harder drugs on moral grounds (as strange as that may seem). Further, dealers of harder drugs tend not to sell cannabis as the drug is harder to conceal than those such as cocaine or heroin.
There is no evidence to suggest that the 'high' associated with cannabis does becomes less satisfying through continued use.
"I do sympathize with those who truley need cannabis for it's medicinal properties, however even patients proclaim to enjoy smoking marijuana for the "high" rather than taking a pill with the same medicinal affects without the high."
Perhaps you should have clarified this by stating 'some' patients. The medicinal uses for cannabis are many and varied. The majority of pharmaceutical pain killers get people 'high'. These include Diazapam, Temazapam, Morphine, Serapax, Mogodon etc. Ask any person addicted to these prescription drugs and they will acknowledge that the 'high' is part of their addiction. The addictiveness of the legally available drugs that I have mentioned are far worse than cannabis, and the withdrawal effects from mid to long term use of these drugs are far more serious than those associated with chronic use cannabis withdrawal. Cannabis withdrawal for long time users is considered less problematic than that of caffeine withdrawal.
"...users who start smoking cannabis at a young age, even in mid-adult years, change into different people without the mental and comprehensive abilities that they had before smoking the drug."
There is no evidence to suggest that cannabis causes the effects you suggest. However, there is proof that whilst under the influence, short term memory is affected. Studies conducted have never shown that long term use results in cognitive impairment.
"Individuals who think that legalizing marijuana is "not a big deal", do not understand that people only smoke marijuana to truely escape from reality, and legalizing it only promotes the pathetic lifestyle."
Firstly, all recreational psychotropic/active drugs, including alcohol are used by some people as a form of 'escape'. Others use these drugs as a relaxant.
Secondly, I don't understand what you mean by 'pathetic lifestyle'. Are you suggesting that all cannabis users lead pathetic lives? Perhaps you should discuss that with the likes of Carl Sagan, Willie Nelson, Al Gore, Art Garfunkel, Dame Margo Fonteyn, Carrie Fischer, Dan Quayle, Dr Francis Crick, Hunter.S.Thompson, Jesse Ventura, John Kerry, Pablo Picasso and in fact, George Bush. This is a very short list of the hundreds of famous and/or successful people who have smoke, or currently do smoke cannabis.
"Yes, marijuana has been used for medicinal properties throughout thousands of years by numerous civilizations, but they did not have the technology to examine the true after affects of the drug...
...We have the information now that others long ago did not have, so we should follow what the brain scans print out-not the mistakes of history."
One of the most recent studies conducted on the medicinal benefits of cannabis has shown (through brain scans) that cannabis is very effective in reducing anxiety in people suffering from this psychological condition. Another study by SETH (http://www.sethgroup.org/) has shown that DELTA-9_THC kills GBH brain cancer cells whilst leaving healthy brain cells intact.
There are no studies currently in use that show any brain damage as a result of cannabis use, even in chronic users.
"However, if times get hard enough, legalizing it and throwing outrageous taxes on it would not be so much of a bad idea, since denial is sometimes unmatched."
I'm unsure of your point here. However, you would most likely find that cannabis sales would indeed decrease after legalization and outrageous taxation on same.Unlike Tobaco, cannabis is not physically adictive. Therefore, people would either discontinue use, or start growing it in their backyards. Or perhaps even go back to buying it on the blackmarket, the same as people do in places where tobacco is taxed at a high rate.
Thanks for taking the time to read my response to your post. I hope I have not offended you, as that is not my intention. I merely wanted to draw your attention to some facts, and hope that you might do some further research on the subject.