The Pragmatic Legalization Of Cannabis

For thousands of centuries drugs have been arguably a vital component of the worlds simultaneous advance and demise. Out of all drugs, none have been discussed at such a high frequency than cannabis in the past couple years, as it is the second most used substance in Canada (“Most Used”, 2015). Cannabis has been an increasingly controversial health product that is soon to be legalized in Canada. As cannabis has many health benefits, it is thought to be an advancement breakthrough for Canada, but it also comes with many negative side effects that have people uneasy about the imminent decriminalization of it. I believe cannabis should be legalized as it brings forth many benefits to us people in society and although there may be consequences to legalizing cannabis, these can be reduced if it is monitored, distributed and used appropriately. I’m going to be discussing the benefits of legalizing cannabis, the consequences of legalizing cannabis and how these consequences can be minimized through the proper monitoring, distribution and use of cannabis.

Cannabis is becoming more popular as new data continues to be released on its possible benefits. The leading cause of accidental death in North America and the United States are due to opioid overdose. A 2017 study by the Harm Reduction Journal revealed that cannabis can be used to help fight the opioid crisis (Lucas, 2017), which shows how valuable cannabis can truly become if it becomes implemented as a strategy to reduce opioid overdose. It would be a remarkable advancement for Canada if we can effectively reduce the number one leading cause of accidental deaths. Medical cannabis does not only help with the opioid crisis, but it also has the power to aid with various diseases. A journal article published by Clinical Neuropharmacology found that medical cannabis was able to reduce the symptoms of a currently incurable degenerative disease called Parkinson’s Disease (Balash et al., 2017).

Cannabis may also have a positive impact on intimate relationships. Cannabis was seen to increase sexual frequency in both men and women (Sun & Eisenberg, 2017), which can perhaps aid in sustaining a healthy sexual relationship. “Munchies” is a term often used in conjunction with smoking cannabis. This term is a description of becoming hungry when high on cannabis. This made many researches think that cannabis could then be used for people experiencing abnormal weight loss, as it increases hunger. This belief was supported by a study conducted in 1995 which indicated that a compound found in cannabis called dronabinol was found to be an effective treatment for anorexia in patients with AIDS (Beal et al., 1995).

There have recently been many claims about cannabis possibly having a role in chemotherapy. Neuropathic pain, something that is frequently seen in cancer patients, can be reduced by the use of vaporized delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Wilsey et al., 2013), a compound found in cannabis. With cannabis having an analgesic effect, it may also be useful to treat pain caused by illnesses other than cancers. As cannabis is an illicit drug in most areas of the world, there is a lack of research on how it can be used beneficially in medicine. As it becomes decriminalized, one country at a time, more and more research will be able to be conducted to expose the true value of medical cannabis. With the limited amount of studies conducted, there is already a substantial evidence that cannabis is not just a drug used to get high off of, but has many useful benefits in medicine.With cannabis’ imminent decriminalization, it will be easier for the general public to access cannabis. Even though, as I mentioned previously cannabis has its benefits, the imminent legalization concerning, as there are consequences to legalizing it.

The most common way to intake cannabis is by inhalation and sometimes this can lead have detrimental effects. Long term cannabis use through inhalation of smoke can increase the chances of lung cancer and other cancers (Volkow, Baler, Compton, & Weiss, 2014). There is data that demonstrates that perhaps smoke from burning cannabis is not as detrimental as the smoke from burning tobacco (Volkow et al., 2014). Cannabis users rarely intake cannabis alone, but often mix it with tobacco (Biehl & Burnham, 2015). As tobacco has even more negative health effects, the use of both tobacco and cannabis simultaneously can produce even worth health issues than cannabis alone (Biehl & Burnham, 2015). People driving after use of cannabis are at 3 to 7 times more likely to be involved in a car crash due to the impairment property of cannabis (Ramaekers, Berghaus, Laar, & Drummer, 2004). This is understandable as cannabis use comes with an impairment of motor coordination, and with a slower reaction time, increases the risk of potential injury (Volkow et al., 2014).

Cannabis legalization is extremely concerning due to the fact that it has serious consequences for adolescents who have brains that are not fully developed. This is because when cannabis is used by adolescents it can alter brain development, affect memory and lower IQ (Volkow et al., 2014). Contrary to popular belief, cannabis can actually be addictive. Popular belief has it that people can become addicted to the feeling but cannot become addicted to the actual drug. There is evidence against this, which states that approximately 9% of people who experiment with cannabis will become dependant on it (Volkow et al., 2014). Cannabis being a “gateway drug,” is a common theme when discussing consequences of legalizing cannabis.

Unfortunately, there is no concrete statistical data to support this claim and can easily be refuted. People who want to take drugs may begin with cannabis as it is more easily accessible than other drugs and there is a large portion of cannabis users that do not indulge in other drugs. People who are predisposed to psychoses and heavy cannabis users may have their first psychotic many years earlier than they would have by not using cannabis (Forti et al., 2013).There are many alarming consequences to legalizing cannabis, but through proper monitoring, distribution and use, they can be minimized to a point where they become insignificant in relation to the health benefits. Adolescents using cannabis is concerning due to the negative affect cannabis has on developing brains. Proper monitoring of who is able to access cannabis is crucial.

Cannabis will only be legally accessible in stores that require a government ID. People who are under the age of 19, and in some areas 18, will not be able to purchase cannabis. All other distributors will not be allowed to distribute cannabis as this would make it more easy for adolescents to access it. It is impossible to monitor everyone who uses cannabis, but it can be significantly minimized. People will be monitoring the cannabis that will be sold at these cannabis stores and testing them to make sure they are safe. This will avoid common issues with cannabis being laced with other harmful drugs. With the legalization of cannabis comes more job opportunities, and for many people who are left unemployed, can perhaps seek employment in the cannabis industry. The issue with cannabis and motor coordination is to be considered. Driving under the influence of cannabis will be considered a crime, and can face a fine or even jail time (Canada, 2018).

These hefty penalties will hopefully discourage cannabis users to drive while under the influence. With appropriate use of cannabis, it can be used a medicinal drug with avoidable side effects. As almost every drug has side effects, it is more important to weigh the benefits and detriments, and if you are able to minimize the detriments, cannabis can have a safe spot in Canada. The issue with cannabis increasing the chances of lung cancer and other respiratory issues has to do with the inhalation of smoke. This can be mitigated by using vaporization, which can be very useful in medical practice, as it can bring the benefits without the adverse health implications (Biehl & Burnham, 2015).Even though there are many clear consequences to legalizing cannabis, most of the frightening and concerning issues can be mitigated through the proper distribution, monitoring and use of cannabis.

The legalization of cannabis will hopefully yield a large advancement in medicine, while being a reasonably safe drug. I truly believe that legalizing cannabis will bring forth many benefits to Canadians, and will be implemented in medicine and to aid in slowing down the leading cause of accident deaths in Canada, the dreadful opioid crisis. For centuries cannabis has been perceived to be a bad drug, but with increase of research done on it, we can finally see how the decriminalization of cannabis will be advantageous for Canada, and hopefully other countries will see how valuable this drug really is and will follow in our footsteps.


  1. Balash, Y., Bar-Lev-schleider, L., Korcyn, A., Shabtai, H., Knaani, J., Rosenberg, A., Gurevich, T. (2017). Medical Cannabis in Parkinson Disease: Real-Life Patients' Experience., 40(6), 268-272. doi:10.1097/WNF.0000000000000246.
  2. Beal, J., Olson, R., Laubenstein, L., Morales, J., Bellman, P., Yangco, B., Shepard, K. (1995). Dronabinol as a treatment for anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with AIDS. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 10(2), 89-97.
  3. Biehl, J. R., & Burnham, E. L. (2015). Cannabis Smoking in 2015. Chest, 148(3), 596-606. doi:10.1378/chest.15-0447
  4. Canada, S. (2018, May 14). Cannabis impairment. Retrieved from
  5. Forti, M. D., Sallis, H., Allegri, F., Trotta, A., Ferraro, L., Stilo, S. A., . . . Murray, R. M. (2013). Daily Use, Especially of High-Potency Cannabis, Drives the Earlier Onset of Psychosis in Cannabis Users. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 40(6), 1509-1517. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbt181
  6. Lucas, P. (2017). Rationale for cannabis-based interventions in the opioid overdose crisis. Harm Reduction Journal, 14(1). doi:10.1186/s12954-017-0183-9
  7. Most Used Substances in Canada. (2015, February 11). Retrieved from
  8. Ramaekers, J. G., Berghaus, G., Laar, M. V., & Drummer, O. H. (2004). Dose related risk of motor vehicle crashes after cannabis use. Drug Alcohol Depend., 109-119.
  9. Sun, A. J., & Eisenberg, M. L. (2017). Association Between Marijuana Use and Sexual Frequency in the United States: A Population-Based Study. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 14(11), 1342-1347. doi:10.1016/j.jsxm.2017.09.005
  10. Volkow, N. D., Baler, R. D., Compton, W. M., & Weiss, S. R. (2014). Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use. New England Journal of Medicine, 370(23), 2219-2227. doi:10.1056/nejmra1402309
  11. Wilsey, B., Marcotte, T., Deutsch, R., Gouaux, B., Sakai, S., & Donaghe, H. (2013). Low-Dose Vaporized Cannabis Significantly Improves Neuropathic Pain. The Journal of Pain, 14(2), 136-148. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2012.10.009
11 February 2020
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