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Abi Constable, looks at the alternative benefits of legalising cannabis

Drugs. What do people instantly think when they hear the word ‘drugs’? Would they picture a hooded teenager smoking a joint in a dark alleyway, or maybe a fifty year old man with lung cancer cooking crystal meth? I think that some of us more liberal students might have different views or experiences when it comes to drugs, but I want to talk about the stigma that surrounds them and how maybe, just maybe, it’s time for society to look at the more beneficial side. Now, when I say the beneficial side of drugs, I’m talking about a very specific drug; cannabis. It seems that cannabis has recently been cooking up a storm, from first being legalised for both medical and recreational use in certain US states such as Colorado, to cannabis oil being used in the treatment for children with serious medical conditions.

In early January a court case kicked up in Australia regarding a father who gave cannabis oil to his two-year-old daughter with a reportedly 11cm cancerous growth. His daughter had also been receiving chemotherapy, but he claimed that the cannabis oil definitely had an influence on her improvements. It is also believed (I want to say the word ‘proven’ but fear my liberal head will be chopped off by conservative readers) that medical marijuana is extremely successful in reducing or altogether stopping seizures in epilepsy sufferers. Another case study involves a young girl who used to suffer up to 200 seizures per day, but since her parents were recommended giving her cannabis oil, she now has 30 seizures a day at most. Now, knowing there is something out there that can greatly improve the quality of your child’s life should be great, shouldn’t it? The only setback is, oh yes, it’s illegal.

Going back to Colorado, not only in the past year have their crime rates decreased, but the state has also made tens of millions of dollars from the tax revenue and if there’s one thing I know we all (hate to) love, it’s money. They’ve also put this money to good use, such as paying for school construction, and well, producing more weed. Before the legalisation, the state was spending between $10 – 40 million a year on enforcing marijuana laws and arresting those who smoked/sold/produced it, when now, they’re making a profit from legalising it. When I hear my mum talk about the recreational use of cannabis (while also still finding it hard to believe that she never tried it in her day), I hear over and over again the words “it just makes you paranoid.” Now, I don’t know, and don’t think I want to know, what kind of experiences have made her feel this way, but wish I’d been brought up in a household where it wasn’t talked about so negatively because believe it or not, I haven’t always had this opinion.

I know the only drug I’ve talked about so far is cannabis, but the opinion that I am about to express includes them all. Most things, when taken in excess, can have damaging effects on us. If I ate way too much chocolate or put too much salt on my chips every day, I’d probably end up with some pretty bad heart problems. If I drank a bottle of vodka every day (FYI this would never happen, I hate vodka) my liver would severely suffer. Just like if I smoked too much marijuana, just like my mum says, I probably would suffer from paranoia, and also develop some long-term health problems. However, I believe that if something is taken carefully and in moderation, there is no harm. Now, I’m not saying go and inject yourself with some heroin or snort some (astonishingly blue) meth. I’m saying do your research, know how these things can affect you, and make a very informed decision on whether you really want to try certain drugs.

Having read about the success of Colorado and medical marijuana, and having been to Amsterdam and experienced a culture where cannabis is legal myself, I think it’s time for our government to take a good look at our marijuana laws and how changing them might just be for the better.

24/02/2015

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