Marijuana benefits often overlooked

By By Whitney Fitts

By Whitney Fitts

The U has become quite the weed-friendly place lately. Marijuana use at Redfest was high, and the U was ranked fifth in the nation for marijuana activism by High Times magazine. Way to go, Utes.

That last statement might be taken sincerely or sarcastically. I’m not here to tell anyone where to stand on recreational drug use8212;that’s something people need to decide for themselves. However, there are some serious social and health care benefits to society by taking a more mellow approach to marijuana.

Marijuana has had a hard time historically. According to a report done by the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics, “declassified Oval Office tapes from 1971-1972 (the Nixon Administration) demonstrate that the foundation of marijuana criminalization is misinformation, culture war and prejudice.” That’s a rough misrepresentation for a drug to bounce back from.

Such political blacklisting greatly slowed research and development of the drug, so we often don’t use it in a clinical setting. Instead we opt to write prescriptions for opiates such as morphine and OxyContin (heroin is also an opiate) with high potential for addiction to relieve long-term pain in patients. Long-term on a highly addictive substance is a bad plan. Besides being chemically dependent, it can and will wreak havoc on the body.

Although it might seem socially addictive, marijuana has no chemically addictive properties. And although Congress’ recent actions would make you feel otherwise, I would hardly call working toward smarter health care as socially deviant behavior.

Because possession of marijuana is punishable by prison time, it has caused overcrowding in our already packed prisons. I hate to see rapists go free in order to make room for the non-violent student incarcerated because of marijuana possession. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 34,540 Americans are incarcerated for marijuana offenses.

I don’t believe in recreational drug use, but I also don’t believe in shorter and more lenient prison sentences for sex offenders because of overcrowded prisons. It is unethical to continue prescribing drugs with high abuse potential for extended periods of time when we have the potential to be developing new, safer drugs that have less risk of dependency. It’s still no miracle drug without side effects, but marijuana does have its benefits.

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