Although more studies need to be conducted to prove the effectiveness of marijuana as a medicine, the fact that it has the potential for abuse shouldn’t be ignored.
Does the Legalization of Marijuana Make It Safe?
One of the most controversial debates in the drug world is about whether or not marijuana should still be considered a schedule 1 narcotic. Even as several states such as Colorado and Washington have moved to legalize recreational marijuana use, the drug is still classified as one of the most dangerous substances with no legitimate medical purposes. Here are the issues at the heart of the controversy.
What is a Schedule 1 Narcotic?
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies drugs based on their abuse potential, legitimate medical uses and safety concerns. Drugs that receive the Schedule 1 classification are deemed to have high abuse potential, significant safety concerns and no legitimate medical purposes.
This category contains the drugs such as heroin, peyote, ecstasy, methaqualone (Quaaludes) and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide). Marijuana is also included in this group. If you need to talk to someone about how drug use is affecting someone you love, call our helpline at (800) 407-7195(Who Answers?).
Why Do Some People Object to this Classification?
Supporters of marijuana rights believe that the drug is safer than the others on the list of schedule 1 narcotics. Although it is possible to overdose on marijuana, it is very rarely fatal.
Many claim that marijuana is not physically addictive, at least not in the sense of opiates which require increasing doses to achieve the same high. Many marijuana supporters also claim that alcohol, which is legal, is more dangerous.
Marijuana supporters also claim that the drug has legitimate medical uses, particularly when the active ingredient THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is distilled. But so far their claims of the medical uses of marijuana to treat everything from seizures to anxiety have not been substantiated by science.
Marijuana has also increased tax revenues in the states where it is legalized. Tax revenue from legalized marijuana in Colorado has made a significant impact on the economy.
How Marijuana Legalization Complicates the Issue
Marijuana is being legalized at the state level. Four states have already decriminalized recreational marijuana: Alaska, California, Colorado and Washington. Five more states have it on the ballot to be voted upon in November 2016. The tide of popular sentiment is moving rapidly in favor of marijuana legalization.
However, drug classification is done at the federal level by the DEA. People have argued for years for the agency to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug. But the DEA recently evaluated the issue and again denied the request to reclassify marijuana to a lower schedule, citing a lack of established safety. Unlike previous requests for reclassification, this time the DEA said they will consider current FDA research for future rulings.
In the meantime, we have a unique situation in the country in which states’ rights and federal laws are contradictory. This makes the situation complicated.
Is Marijuana Still a Problem?
Even if recreational marijuana use is legal in some states and is gaining societal acceptance, that doesn’t mean that it should be considered safe. For people with addictive tendencies, any mind-altering drug has potential for abuse.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, regular marijuana use also appears to lead to increased impulsive behavior and hostility. The research was based on self-reported findings, so it is not yet known if marijuana causes these changes or is used in response to them.
It is clear that there is still a lot that we don’t know about the safety of marijuana. Despite its widespread acceptance, there is remarkably little science to recommend its use. Those who want to escape through substance abuse still often choose marijuana as an option. Therefore, it continues to be a highly risky behavior, especially those who are prone to addiction.