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I have to be honest, as far as I am concerned, this question is a no-brainer. It is not for any sociological reason. Simply, I don't believe it is right to tell people what they can and can't do with their own bodies. If somebody wants to drink themselves to death, or throw themselves out of a plane then its allowed. These are much more dangerous activities yet they are not questioned. Therefore, cannabis isn't illegal for your personal safety. So why is it llegal? If only the individual is affected by the behaviour in a negative way, then I say 'Good Luck to them.'
Me & It's Effects
Before I go any further, I should admit that I do smoke cannabis, a bit more than I really should. I have done for many years. Some people as a result would judge me for this and make certain assumptions. In my experience, many of these people have never actually tried to give it a chance and are merely swayed by what they have read. I would also like to point out, that whilst I smoke it on very regular basis, I still have a decent job within, the civil service, my own flat, pay my own bills, did well in my exams, etc; and all the while, I was pretty damn stoned!!
I am not blind to its effects, and readily admit that whilst it has many positives, there are numerous drawbacks. Smoking weed is somewhat a double-edged sword. It has been proven that cannabis is not really PHYSICALLy addictve, but I would definitely say it has effects on a person's mentality. Also though, it's effects depend on the individual. Long-term users definitely encounter some setbacks in some way. Whether it be a mental dependence on the green stuff. I must admit, that sometimes I will struggle to sleep or relax properly at times without a joint. This is not always the case, but it's hardly convenient.
Mental Problems Anyone??
Many people link the word 'Schizophrenia' to weed far too much for my liking. I believe the term is used too loosely for anybody with any mental disorder. It is simply a matter of opinion whether somebody is insane or not. Paranoia is a factor for some people although I do not suffer this. I feel this shows that the drug affects people differently. The problem with this kind of discussions is that there are many schools of thought on how the human brain works and it depends on which one you follow.
There is plenty of talk about the negative effects of using cannabis, but less quoted, are its positives. I would definitely say that it can aid or influence a person's philosophy and expand their tastes and/or appreciation for certain things (eg: Art or Music.) I'm sure you will be a fan of at least one of these musicians/bands...
The Beatles, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Bob Dylan, The Wu-Tang Clan, Oasis, Bob Marley, The Stone Roses, to name but a few...
...in the words of Bill Hicks 'all those artists... real f***** high on drugs.'
My point is, that some of the best and most influential music ever made, was made under the influence of drugs and in most of those cases, Marijuana was the key. there is no doubt it can lead some people to be more creative and it definitely unlocks potential within certain parts of the brain. To be fair, this can be balanced by its side effects on a personal level. But that is no reason to make something illegal. Very few things in this world are truly good for you, it would be stupid to outlaw anything which had a detrement to the individual. This isn't a George Orwell novel. The main side effect I would complain of is occasional short-term memory loss. I would definitely blame years of toking for this. At the same time, I have realised much of my outlook on life with red eyes. I am sure I would not have been thinking about the same things if I wasn't stoned.
If you think about it, cannabis has had an influence on some of the best, music, art, design, philosophy. Some of the great thinkers of the past were fans of that little green leaf. Just remember that.
The majority of people, even those against cannabis, would be inclined to agree, that now it is once again a Class B illegal substance and an arrestable offence, policing it takes more time and effort than it is worth. The way I see it. Smoking is much less of a problem than drinking. The government-sanctioned binge-drinking craze causes far more illness, injury, violence, damage and general trouble. Yet this is seen as acceptable as it has been going on for so long. whilst alcohol is highly taxed, it's fallout has a massive detriment to the country and has ruined the lives of thousands. I have never had a fight when I was stoned, never been sick, in fact, I rarely leave the house when I am wrecked. Nowadays alcohol and crime go hand in ahnd and this is acknowledged. The only crime a genuine smoker commits is buying the weed itself. This seems a little stupid to me.
Ask yourself this question...
If you were walking down the street on a friday night, at one side of the road is a group of young people drinking in the street. On theother side is another group smoking a joint. Which side of the road would you walk on??
In the question, I even ignored the fact that visual behaviour of both groups would be totally converse to one another. One would be loud, the other laid back in my opinion.
A gateway drug is a substance which leads its user onto a harder drug in the future as a consequence.
I would disagree that marijuana is a gateway drug in essence. Simply because, smoking cannabis does not directly cause you try/take harder substances or even predispose you. I would say that it definitely will bring people into contact with some harder drug users, much more likely than if you didn't smoke. It also may desensitise people to drug use to anextent which may also incline them to be more open to trying new drugs. Some dishonest education is to blame here if you ask me. If bold statements are made about a drug, which appear to be untrue when they are tested, then it is only logical that people will begin to doubt what they have been told and taught about the other substances.
Weed does NOT make people try other drugs. But it does expose them to an environment where they are more likely to have the opportunity. If you have will power, nobody and nothing, can make you do something you don't want to. On the converse as well, you can go into any pub, club or bar in this country, and every bathroom/toilet would be riddled with white powders. Drugs are everywhere today, so it would be irratonal to attribute it all to cannabis. Society is being increasing consumed by its ills and problems, which in my opinion is leading many people to resort to drugs, whether legal or illegal to distance themselves from the reality of the world in which we live. Everybody has a vice, whether your is a drink, a spliff, a bible, a blackjack table, a treadmill. What's to say yours is the right one?? Who's to say what is wrong??
This city is reminiscent of an experiment. The clinical trial, if you will. The tourism and economy boom here, (prostitution is also legal in places,) and the city has definitely benefited. The tourists are stoned and if only high or tripping, rarely cause trouble. The crime in the city is a problem , but this is the same of any place with high levels of tourism. Tourists are easy targets for criminals, so the two go hand in hand. This sytem would not work everywhere, and is very well implemented and regulated in Amsterdam.
It's a shame that you have to go to another country to enjoy this kind of atmosphere, but this country's negative perceptions, bad attitude and politically correct home guard would leave it destined to fail in this country.
Should It Be Legalised?
I would love the stuff to be legalised, but I'm positive I will never see it happen in the UK during my lifetime. I would like to see it decriminalised. You can smoke cigarettes and drink aged 18, I believe this is a fair standard for Cannabis. It is not anywhere near as harmful as a double vodka and a McDonalds, it's just an alien market to our out of touch government and the tax they would like to put on it, would mean people would still use their own illegal dealers to save money. In my opinion, if the goverment can't sell and tax it. Then you can't have it. This disgusts me as we are supposed to live in a democracy, yet 52% of MPs against it is enough to over-rule a country. The majority would still believe weed should be illegal. Even I do to some extent. However I believe the rules regarding punishment are too harsh and rigid.
I think the best idea would be for the government to admit, they can't make money from it. We already go to work, we are taxed on the money we earn, then we pay tax on the things we buy, then we pay tax to use and maintain them. Not everything can be a government cash-cow and that needs to be realised.
Small-scale local dealing should not warrant prison time. I work within the justice industry and believe this is so laughable. You can go to prison for selling weed to your friends, but if you batter your wife, then you have to pay a fine. The criminal justice system in this country has its priorities wrong. Marijuana can affect the development of young people and should be used with care, if at all by teenagers. However, if an adult wants to have a smoke in their own front room with friends, it should not be a crime. Why let shops, sell seeds to grow it, bongs to smoke it but arrest people for simply possessing it.
In short, Cannabis should not necessarily be legal, but the laws regarding it need to be seriously loosened and re-evaluated. If you've read this far, then Thank You and I hope you agree with some of the things I have said.