Legalization of Marijuana: Safer for Society?

By: Niamh Cosgrove

Week 2: 

News opinion piece article

Miron, Jeffrey. “Why Congress should legalize pot.” CNN, Cable News Network, 19 Nov. 2014, www.cnn.com/2014/11/19/opinion/miron-marijuana-legalization/index.html. 

In a brief CNN article, Jeffrey Miron, senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies in the economics department at Harvard University, strongly states his beliefs as to why the legalization of pot is a good thing rather than a bad one. Within this argument, he also backs up his ideas with factual evidence and statistics. He begins by outlining the fact that marijuana is not more nor less harmful than other legal substances such as; alcohol, tobacco, excessive eating or even something as simple as just driving a car. However, the difference is; those four things are legal whereas marijuana still is not in many places. Miron then goes onto say that in places such as Colorado, which have already legalized the drug; marijuana use, crime, traffic accidents, education and health outcomes did not increase nor decrease after the legalization. Therefore, that assists with the idea that marijuana does not heavily influence things such as crime or the well-being of many individuals. Furthermore, the article also lays out the positive effects the legalization will have on taxes, medical resources and the decrease of repercussions as a result of the ban. This article will help support my podcast as it gives me many ideas and facts to support my argument as to why the legalization of pot is a good thing.  

News opinion piece article

Bassi, Taran. “Can we just get on with it and legalize cannabis in the UK please?” Metro, 17 Jan. 2018, metro.co.uk/2018/01/17/can-we-just-get-on-with-it-and-legalise-cannabis-in-the-uk-please-6950622/. 

Within this distinct article, Taran Bassi, a British/Asian feminist blogger clearly highlights the potential benefits surrounding the legalization of marijuana. In order to defend her argument, she provides proof and reasons as to why the legalization could be a valuable thing, particularly in the UK. Bassi revolves her defense around the drug by addressing the fact that trading/selling it illegally is way more dangerous than having legit organizations sell it legally. When making a purchase with some unofficial group or person, there are many potential dangers someone could face. Two possibilities are; laced drugs and assault. Moreover, Bassi then moves onto compare the UK to places like Amsterdam which have already legalized the drug. Bassi states that since the drug has been legalized, crime rates have initially decreased rather than increased. This is because of the fact that people do not buy from local street dealers anymore. With this in mind, Bassi strongly believes that legalizing marijuana could help the economy, not dismantle it.  

 

Week 3:  

Scholarly article

Reuter, Peter H. “Marijuana Legalization What Can Be Learned from Other Countries? .” RAND Working Paper Series. Google Scholar, www.tni.org/files/publication-downloads/marijuana-legalization.pdf

In this scholarly article, the author Peter H. Reuter compares the legalization of marijuana between different countries. Reuter keeps a particular focus on places such as: the Netherlands and other countries around Europe. He begins by highlighting the philosophy of the Netherlands which basically implies that everyone should be responsible for their own health and safety. With this in mind, the Netherlands have legalized the drug and therefore do not focus on searching to criminalize people who possess the drug. Instead, they spend their time focused on those who illegally sell or trade the substance or abuse their use of it. For example, driving under the influence of marijuana. This has allowed crime rate to go down in the Netherlands and has given officials more time to focus on greater issues. He compares this idea to the statistics regarding the high number of arrests for possession of marijuana in places like Switzerland, France and the US. By the look of the high numbers of arrests in these places, one would be able to see that too much time and money is spent on such a minor issue. Further on, Reuter discusses how some countries such as Australia and Germany are more lenient when it comes to the controversy of the drug. For example, these places will only press charges for the possession of the drug if an individual is carrying a certain number of grams. Also, if they have more than a certain amount of plants in their household. However, the only outcomes for these penalties are more issues. Most people do not pay their fines which then results in officials having to escalate the charges. This will be an effective source for my podcast as it highlights all the issues and unnecessary amount of time wasted on these so-called criminals for possession of marijuana.  

Government document

Canada, Government of Canada Statistics. “Study: Experimental Estimates of Cannabis Consumption in Canada, 1960 to 2015.” Government of Canada, Statistics Canada, 18 Dec. 2017, www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/171218/dq171218b-eng.htm

This government document lays out the statistics of people in different age groups who smoke marijuana in Canada. It also states the total amount of marijuana consumed by Canadians, as well as the total earnings of the substance. Canada is only one of many countries to analyze, however, this document will assist in my podcast because it is a reliable source to refer to in order to back up one of my arguments. My argument will suggest that people are going to smoke marijuana no matter what, as seen in the statistics. Therefore, legalizing it will make it safer for those who do make the decision to use the substance. It's better to have people smoking it safely and responsibly rather than dangerously.  

Week 4:  

Government PDF document

Legalization, Regulation and Restriction of Access to Marijuana. Government of Canada, Aug. 2016, www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/advocacy/submissions/2016-aug-29-cma-submission-legalization-and-regulation-of-marijuana-e.pdf

In this government issued PDF document, the Canadian Medical Association breaks down the government's plan behind the legalization of marijuana. The document closely discusses the governments ideas to keep citizens safe when the drug is legal. Following their brief introduction, the CMA begins their breakdown of this plan by addressing the idea of minimizing harms of use. This idea basically states the measures and objectives that the government is going to take in order to keep children and youth safe and out of reach of the drug. Moreover, the document also highlights topics such as: establishing a safe and responsible production system, designing an appropriate distribution system, enforcing public safety and protection and finally, accessing marijuana for medical purposes. This document will help me with my podcast greatly because, it provides me with proper regulations regarding the safety behind marijuana usage. I could use these safety precautions to help defend my argument as to why the legalization of marijuana will be a good thing. Also, when speaking of other countries, I could apply some of the Canadian governments ideas to argue why they should legalize the drug as well.  

News article

Cain, Patrick. “As legal pot nears, employers in dangerous fields lack clear standards, rules on testing.” Global News, 12 Jan. 2018, globalnews.ca/news/3954147/marijuana-legalization-dangerous-workplace-drug-testing/. 

In this article by Patrick Cain on Global News, he addresses all the concerns that employers have for when marijuana is legalized in Canada. From issues such as: employees coming to work in an impaired state to TTC drivers being assaulted, Cain breaks it all down. With no doubt, there will be concerns when the drug is legal. However, Cain suggests that many are assuming the worst. Although marijuana is technically not currently legal in Canada at the moment, many are still able to access it. Our society is already very much accustomed to have marijuana around, therefore the legalization is most likely not going to have an effect on people like that. This legalization is not meant for people to start coming into work impaired. This piece will help me with my argument when I speak of the concerns of employers. I strongly agree that workplaces have no need to worry about something as drastic as this.  

Week 5:  

Scholarly article

Collier, Roger. "How Will Pot Legalization Affect Medical Marijuana?" Canadian Medical Association.Journal, vol. 188, no. 11, 2016, pp. 792-793, Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database; CBCA Reference & Current Events; Nursing & Allied Health Database, http://ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1812418761?accountid=15182.

In this brief 2-page scholarly article by Roger Collier, the topic of medical marijuana versus recreational marijuana is plainly analyzed. Collier introduces us to his topic by quickly stating the fact that there will be two markets for marijuana; recreational and medical, once the government passes legislation. Followed by that, Collier explains that although this is a great opportunity to tap into a new market, many are worried that there will be confusion for consumers of the two markets. However, Collier argues that there should be no confusion upon this legislation and it may actually benefit everyone rather than cause chaos. The benefits that will arise from having two separate markets include: people will no longer burden doctors by posing as medical buyers, medical marijuana will be sold cheaper to patients than recreational and it will be easier to locate medical producers who can education you on how to take recreationally sold marijuana and use it to fulfill medical needs. However, in contrast to Colliers ideas that this will benefit our society and marijuana buyers, there is a clear problem with accessibility to a physician's office for those with disabilities. This idea of proper accessibility is something I will have to look further into in my research. Still, nonetheless, Colliers explanation of how having these two markets will benefit me in my potential conclusion that this legislation is for the best.  

Scholarly article

Schwartz, Robert, PhD. "Legalize Marijuana without the Smoke." Canadian Medical Association.Journal, vol. 189, no. 4, 2017, pp. E137-E138, Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database; CBCA Reference & Current Events; Nursing & Allied Health Database, http://ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1867118049?accountid=15182, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.161203.

In a scholarly article posted by the Canadian Medical Association, Robert Schwartz compares and contrasts the long-term health risks behind smoking cigarettes and smoking marijuana. Although there is no conclusive evidence, doctors and researchers have stated that they were able to identify real health issues in those who have smoked marijuana for a long period of time. Also, it is important to state that Schwartz feels that with the legalization of this drug, people will become more socially accepting of public smoking again. However, in the end of his article, Schwartz still suggests that this does not mean we should not legalize the drug. He states that prohibiting the drug only fails in reducing the number of people who smoke it. Instead of just banning it, safer uses of consumption should be encouraged and taught to people of all ages. This will allow us to truly have a safer society with marijuana being smoked. Both of these ideas; the health risks behind marijuana and the idea that it should still be legal will assist me in my podcast. I will be able to use the section about health risks to form questions in my interview and the benefits of the legalization to back up my own argument.   

 

Week 6:

Scholarly article

Fischer, Benedikt, PhD., and Jü Rehm. "Cannabis use, Legalization and Youth Health." Canadian Medical Association.Journal, vol. 189, no. 29, 2017, pp. E971-E972, Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database; CBCA Reference & Current Events; Nursing & Allied Health Database, http://ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1923708023?accountid=15182

In response to an editorial in CMAJ by Dr. Kelsall; Benedikt Fischer and Jürgen Rehm explain reasons why it is safer and better to legalize marijuana, specifically in Canada in a scholarly article. They start off by addressing the fact that it is very likely that marijuana may cause serious health issues, especially to the brain. However, they then compare that to things such as hockey and alcohol, stating that both those things are also very dangerous when it comes to health problems. Playing hockey can lead to many head injuries such as; concussions. Also, alcohol may cause other bodily harms such as; a stroke and other heart related problems. However, both of those things are legal and socially accepted in our society. Benedikt and Rehm then move on to talk about how it is safer for consumers to purchase it from legit organizations rather than black markets/street dealers. When purchasing from a black market, you cannot fully trust the substance you are receiving nor the sellers which you are purchasing from. That is because you do not have a lot of information on them. They conclude by stating that legalizing this substance under strict regulations is indeed safer for society, especially for the youth. These comparisons and facts will support me in my argument as to why this legalization will be good for us.  

Scholarly article

Collier, Roger. "The Future of Legal Pot." Canadian Medical Association.Journal, vol. 189, no. 22, 2017, pp. E790-E791, Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database; CBCA Reference & Current Events; Nursing & Allied Health Database, http://ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1910234054?accountid=15182, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.1095425. 

In part 2 of a scholarly article by Roger Collier, he briefly goes over what the future is going to look like for legalized pot. More specifically, he goes over what it's going to look like for medicinal pot. In the first part of his article, Collier went over different concerns of different people, such as; physicians and health researchers. In this part, he talks about marijuana producers and advocates for the legalization. Since marijuana is going to be legalized in Canada in the summer of 2018, this means a lot for medicinal buyers. One thing that is significant about this is producers and consumers are hoping that medicinal marijuana will be treated the same as pharmaceutical products. That would make the medical cannabis system a more safe and secure place for buyers to get their substances. However, there is still a lot of work to do in order to achieve that since there are many different strains of the drug, as well as many different ways to intake it. Moving forward, Collier later talks about the fact that this will increase employment throughout the country and throughout the supply chain. Many think that this will help our industry establish a global leadership position with a new wave of Canadian scientific breakthroughs and entrepreneurs. This article also contains opinions of people who have opposing feelings such as; Mark Stupak who suffers from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder. He is concerned about some of the restrictions that will be present once marijuana is legalized. His concerns mainly revolve around new impaired-driving offences. However, in my podcast I will speak about why these laws and restrictions are important with the coming legalization. Colliers points and facts regarding purchases of medicinal marijuana and new job opportunities will add to the positive points in my podcast when defending the legalization.

 

Week 7: 

Journal article

Elrod, Matthew M. "Cannabis Prohibition Harms Canada's Youth." Canadian Medical Association.Journal, vol. 189, no. 29, 2017, pp. 1, Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database; CBCA Reference & Current Events; Nursing & Allied Health Database, http://ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1923708098?accountid=15182, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.733187. 

In a short journal article by Matthew M. Elrod, the harms of Cannabis prohibition on Canadian youth is closely examined. Although this article is only a page long, I chose to work with it since it contained a few valid points that could be effectively used in my podcast. Elrod begins his article by briefly mentioning that Canadian teens consume the most marijuana in the industrialized world despite the prohibition. (The fact that people are going to smoke the drug no matter what is a point that is made far too often. Our people, especially our youth are at risk when purchasing from illegal street dealers and black markets). Elrod also mentions that cannabis is easier to obtain than alcohol or tobacco and people are about twice as likely to try cannabis over tobacco. Although Elrod is clearly for the legalization of this substance, he brings in an opposing point by Dr.Kelsall which can be used in my podcast when introducing the other side to this argument. In a recent article, Dr.Kelsall stated that this legislation is only going to decide who will purchase from the legal markets and who will continue to go to street dealers and black markets because of the age restriction. This means, part of the youth in our society could still be in harm's way. However, I want to argue that this legislation will make it harder for illegal sales of the drug, just like tobacco and alcohol.  

 

Scholarly article

Kelsal, Diane,M.D.M.Ed. "Cannabis Legislation Fails to Protect Canada's Youth."Canadian Medical Association.Journal, vol. 189, no. 21, 2017, pp. E737-E738, Canadian Business & Current Affairs Database; CBCA Reference & Current Events; Nursing & Allied Health Database, http://ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1907799980?accountid=15182, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.170555. 

This is a scholarly article that I have been waiting to use for some time. It has been mentioned and cited in so many other articles that discuss the legalization of marijuana in Canada, however, it is clear that Dr.Kelsall is opposed to the new legislation. Although this will not assist me in persuading my audience that the legislation is a good thing, it will provide me with points I can use and potentially argue against for the opposing side. This entire article revolves around an idea that Dr.Kelsall has which is youth should not be consuming marijuana. Dr.Kelsall worries that although most adults do not see an issue with the drug, it is in fact harmful to the developing brain. It can cause long and/or short-term problems, including, mental health issues such as; depression, anxiety and psychosis. As well, it can poorly affect their progress in school. Since the brain does not stop fully developing until the age 25, Dr.Kelsall argues that the legislation should only allow people from ages 21 and up to legally purchase the drug. As I will mention in my podcast, I strongly disagree with all of these points. It may be correct that youth should not be consuming this at all. However, the point is they are going to smoke it no matter what. Canadian youth consume the most in the industrialized world, as stated by Matthew M. Elrod in another article. Therefore, it is our governments job to make it as safe as possible for them.  

 

Week 8:  

Scholarly Article

Hodgins, David C., Hyoun S. Kim, and Jonathan N. Stea. "Increase and Decrease of Other Substance use during Recovery from Cannabis use Disorders."Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, vol. 31, no. 6, 2017, pp. 727-734, ProQuest, http://ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1937519875?accountid=15182, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/adb0000307. 

This scholarly article by David C. Hodgins, Hyoun S. Kim and Jonathan N. Stea focuses on the idea of addictions. More specifically, they look deep into whether or not one gains more addictions after recovering from one.  In the introduction of the article, the authors state that an increase and decrease in the use of other substances is very common when someone is recovering from cannabis use. However, a study showed that other substance addictions decreased more than it increased. 39% of individuals had reported a decrease in other substance use and only 21% reported both increases and decreases in the use of other substances. 26% reported just an increase and 14% reported no change at all. These statistics may assist me in the argument of both sides (for and against marijuana legalization) because more people reported a decrease in addictions, however, there was still a fair percentage that experienced an increase. The remaining sections of the article just speaks upon the causes, effects and solutions for these issues

 

News Article

News, CBC. “Ontario police chiefs warning about dangers of contaminated pot.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 13 Mar. 2018, www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/police-chief-crime-prevention-campaign-1.4574377. 

This brief but informative news article focuses on the dangers of contaminated pot. Recently, Waterloo Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin took a trip to Toronto, to inform consumers about the dangers of purchasing pot from illegal sellers. With the new legalization coming up this 2018 summer, Larkin emphasizes that it's important to know your cannabis is coming from a "legitimate, inspected and appropriate location." Alongside that, Larkin also expresses how important it is to keep away from any fraud companies/sellers. More specifically, cyber scams. This type of crime effects/targets people of all ages, from youth to adults. Especially, those who are "too comfortable" with the use of technology. This will assist me in the creation of my podcast as it will help me give tips to the audience on how to stay safe whether the drug is legalized or not. Also, it shows in a way that the legalization makes it more safe for consumers because there will be more legit organizations to deal with and less illegal/fraud companies/sellers to be hurt by.