If cannabis / marijuana is not as bad as they say, then why and how was it made illegal in the first place?

To understand all of this, we must first take into account one very important aspect – just because lawmakers and politicians have been elected to ‘work in the interest of the people’ DOES NOT automatically mean that they will do so. Without making this crucial acknowledgement, one cannot understand the ridiculous, disproven context in which marijuana was originally made illegal (first in the United States, then in the rest of the world).

As such evidence has shown, the actual context in which marijuana was made illegal is, in reality, one that had a biased agenda and was protecting the interests of both the federal departments responsible for narcotics as well as of several industries (e.g.: paper, timber, pharmaceutical industries). The rest of the world’s governments simply followed the lead of the United States, one which was obtained through the leverage created by the sheer economic and military power of the US.

It was also used to unjustly incriminate people of Latin- or African-American heritage; if we look at the United States as an example, one can see just how much the rate of incarceration has inflated over the years since drugs were declared illegal and dangerous (there is now a total of over 2,300,000 people serving a jail sentence in the US, 111,000 of which are drug-related offences).

Do we want our children to grow up in a world where access to a plant whose versatility (its medicinal potential is being investigated and further research has been recommended/) can potentially change the world as we know it is not only denied but punished with a jail sentence? Or do we want them to grow in a world where we explain how things work, where we tell them that moderation and balance are key to interacting with substances such as cannabis? 

If education sounds like a better choice, then keep on reading…





But, isn’t marijuana a gateway drug? One that will lead to things like heroin and cocaine?

Multiple sources can deny that this claim is true in any way, and there’s a lot of evidence to prove it  - as a matter of fact, marijuana is not responsible for a user’s progression towards further experimentation with other substances (despite the prohibition and the centres for rehabilitation’s strict policies, drug laws clearly do not work as otherwise we would not have such a recurring, never-ending problem with drug abuse). These drug laws instead push the person towards trying other ways of altering their perception of reality through the lack of information and education that there is on the subject. 

Let us flesh this out further by considering a scenario for a second – imagine the typical case which is cited by anti-marijuana campaigners, a teenager hanging out at a dubious bar, being subjected to peer pressure and the availability of illegal substances. With the current system of prohibition in place, we would have a young adult with limited knowledge about the drugs present (along with factors such as drug purity and content; these factors cannot be tested in an illegal environment), as the only dogma we presently have about drugs is the repetition of the phrase ‘don’t do drugs’. 

It is a natural reaction of a person of that age range to display risk-seeking behaviour, and half the thrill in this scenario consists of doing something which everybody (most especially, authority figures, which have been proven ineffective deterrents) told them not to do. Additionally, we have the effects of the actual gateway drug, alcohol - the further disinhibition which is caused by this substance leads to a lack of informed, able decision-making.

However, if marijuana was legal, teen use would actually go down, not up, as can be shown in the wealth of evidence presented by countries / states which have gone the full length with legalisation.

Alcohol, on the other hand, something which is not only deemed safe but is also widely accepted, is something that can lead to far worse consequences than marijuana. Alcohol’s negative long-term effects on the human body are well-known, and many government agencies advocate concepts such as not drinking whilst driving. The effects of alcoholism have also been widely documented, specifically about both the physical toll it can take as well as the emotional strain on family and friends.

Thus, the conclusion can be reached that the usage of other substances is not directly proportional with marijuana usage, both in cases where it’s legal as well as in cases where it isn’t. 

Isn’t marijuana associated with mental illness such as schizophrenia?

There are some arguments that claim that smoking cannabis can trigger psychosis or schizophrenia in people who may already be carrying the gene that leads to the mental illness. Whilst it is true that a lot of research has been conducted on this link, one must not ignore the evidence which suggests that people who are schizophrenic / are carriers of the gene tend to smoke more cannabis due to genetic overlap.

The main argument we are presenting against this is this – if the link between the two does indeed exist, wouldn’t it be better if we had legal status for marijuana so we could conduct scientific research into the subject? Prohibition has been a failure; drugs are still widespread in society, no matter how harsh the law gets. So, why don’t we legalise it, research it and invest serious money in what could be a field that changes the world as we know it instead of pretending that leaving it in its illegal state will somehow stop people from using it? We would be able to do all that as well as find out how the link between cannabis and schizophrenia works, if we simply had the ability to fully research the plant’s properties.

What about the children?

Many among us, including our Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, have considered what could happen to our children should such a change (i.e.: marijuana being made legal) be made. We have already dismissed the notion of marijuana (or drugs being legal in general) leading to a sudden, drastic increase in substance abuse. 

If anything, countries in which drug laws have been mitigated have experienced a significant drop in violent crime, in general usage of the substances themselves (in a legal society, users can seek help and fare better as accepted members of society rather than people who have very dim prospects for their future and are shunned by many). Furthermore, in order to ensure that children are not allowed to consume marijuana at a young age, restrictions must be inputted in the same way that the sale of alcohol, for example, is not allowed to minors.
As things are right now, a child can hypothetically go up to a dealer and obtain any illegal substances (including, but not limited to marijuana), however if there is a registered system put in place for the purchase and use of marijuana, we wouldn’t have to rely on a dealer’s morality in giving a child drugs.

So, in conclusion to this question, countries which have adopted such measures have experienced many benefits, not just when it comes to teen usage of drugs and general societal well-being, but also ones related to the economy, healthcare, rehabilitation and education as well as when it comes to crime rates and the efficiency of the legal system. 

But wasn’t marijuana made illegal because it’s really addictive and, once you use it, you become dependent for life?

Many alarmist, anti-marijuana lobbies and campaigners frequently mention the fact that drugs are something which, once you use, will have a hold on you for the rest of your life and will eventually destroy you. Before we carefully de-construct this argument, we must look at the grain of truth on which it is based; drugs, without the proper education and moderation, can lead to dependency if heavily abused, some to higher degrees than others. 20 years of research have shown, however, something crucial which these lobbies often fail to mention; you can get addicted to marijuana usage, but it is highly unlikely and it is far less so than many other substances:

"The life-time risk of developing dependence among those who have ever used cannabis was estimated at 9% in the United States in the early 1990s as against 32% for nicotine, 23% for heroin, 17% for cocaine, 15% for alcohol and 11% for stimulants.>

This is not something that marijuana campaigners have ever excluded; drugs can be harmful if abused, there is no question about that. Our solution for the legalisation of cannabis, however, is one which also includes this part in its thought process. If the cannabis market was legal, usage, distribution, one’s ability to grow a certain amount of plants – everything would be regulated. 

No longer would one have to resort to a black market which will do its best to introduce a potential user to as many substance as possible, with no age restrictions, no limit on the amount which can be grown or purchased, no monitoring on the quality or content of the drugs being sold. Instead, in a legal marijuana market, a substance which prohibition has failed to eliminate would be sold in clean outlets with actual standards and monitoring processes, and a market which was bleeding the country out would instead be claimed and polished whilst simultaneously dealing a huge blow to criminal enterprises.