An issue that creates heated debate almost anywhere you go is the legalisation of cannabis. There are two different opinions: one, that cannabis should not become legal because it leads on to the use of harder drugs and causes more petty crime. The second view is that if it became legal then fewer people would have to sneak around to get cannabis and therefore not get caught up in the underworld of drugs, and that would stop the lead on to harder drugs. Also cannabis can be used for medical purposes such as a painkiller, and to relieve the symptoms of diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
I don’t believe that the use of drugs necessarily leads on to the use of harder drugs. The argument that the use of cannabis leads on to the use of harder drugs is called the Gateway Theory, which is now seldom used by the British Government. Yet some people continually state this as if it were a fact, whist still others, even some who advocate the full legalisation of cannabis, continue to insist that it is the social setting in which cannabis is taken that leads onto hard drug use. Such arguments are often based on the idea that if one is in an environment where people are smoking tobacco for example then, if they were smoking it before, they will restart or if they had not done it before then they will start.
The truth is that it is not because they are in that environment, but it is because they may be encouraged to start or restart by other people. There is nothing within cannabis itself that automatically leads the user to use harder drugs. In fact cannabis is less addictive than caffeine. And also users say that unlike cocaine or heroin, cannabis does not give you a high thereby removing the need to take an increased dosage to try and get the same high as the first time.
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On the other hand some people believe that the use of cannabis will lead on to the use of harder drugs. A prime example of the Gateway Theory is a newspaper article from the Daily Mail. A Professor Rey, conducted a study, and it concluded that thirty nine percent of children who admitted using cannabis had also used harder drugs such as Heroin, Cocaine, Ecstasy and amphetamines.
Another reason people give for the legalisation of cannabis is that it has medical purposes. It can be used as a painkiller or to relieve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Even our own Queen Victoria used cannabis to relive the discomfort of menstrual cramps.
Furthermore, some people agree that if cannabis were legal then it would take up less police time and public money, because police would spend less time arresting people for minor offences, and therefore could spend more time on all of Britain’s bigger problems. For example, in 1995 there were 93631 drug arrests and 76, 694 were to do with cannabis . So if the police didn’t have to arrest people for cannabis offences then it would save a lot of police time. It would also save a great deal of public money as well because we would not have to put them through a trial or keep them in prison.
Another argument is that even though some people may think that cannabis has some medical properties, this has not yet been proven. The House of Lords even say that beside cannabis being intoxicating it can pose a risk to people with heart problems, it can exacerbate pre-existing mental illness, smoking cannabis is as bad for the lungs as smoking tobacco, and may cause cancer and also that regular heavy use can lead to psychological dependence, and in some cases to physical dependence, involving withdrawal symptoms.
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Furthermore people believe that legalisation will cause greater harm through increased use “because of increased availability and tacit acceptance of these drugs by society” . Other effects of legalisation may include increased crime and violence resulting from the pharmacological effects of illicit drugs.
In conclusion I accept that there are good reasons for cannabis to stay an illegal drug, but I still think that cannabis should become a legal drug, as there are many good reasons for it to become legal. I think that even if you were to keep it illegal it will not discourage people from using the drug, and people will keep using it for recreational use for many years to come.