On April 16th, 2014, a study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience that showed that there were negative effects on the human brain caused by marijuana use. Some would say that this is enough reason for various states to reconsider their changing marijuana use laws, be it decriminalizing or legalizing it altogether. I, on the other hand, do not agree. Instead, I think that the laws of the use of marijuana should continue to proceed in the direction of legalization.
If marijuana has a negative effect on the performance of the human brain, I say “so what?” Does this mean that it should be illegal? A criminal act? There is no reason for this, considering that other drugs are legal, albeit heavily regulated. Take for instance, alcohol. We know that heavy consumption of alcohol has negative effects on various human organs. Yet, it is still a legal substance for consumption for people over the age of 21 years in the U.S. Heavy drinking literally destroys a human body, and when coupled with driving or other use of heavy machinery, can lead to deadly results. It can tear apart families due to financial and emotional issues. It can cause a fully functioning human to be reduced to a waste of human potential. Still, it is a legal substance and heavily regulated. Why then is marijuana still illegal?
Let us also look at tobacco. Smoking (and other types of consuming) tobacco can lead to various cancers, diseases, and decreased respiratory performance. Also, we are aware of the effects of Secondhand smoking and females smoking during pregnancy. It can lead humans addicted to it to spend much of their money on a substance that will kill them. Yet, tobacco is still legal for consumption to people over the age of 18 years in the U.S. and heavily regulated. Why then is marijuana still illegal?
Lastly, consider the move that former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to pull regarding consumption of soft drinks in New York City. A lot of research suggests that soft drinks are not healthy for you and can lead to obesity. But, they are still a legal substance to consume. When Bloomberg attempted to limit how much an individual can consume into a 16oz container, he was strongly opposed by many people. His ban was defeated in court, one of the reasons being that he had no authority to decide how much soda someone can drink (the case is currently in the New York Court of Appeals.) This is the fundamental principle that many claim to believe in yet can not apply it consistently: people should be allowed to put into their bodies whatever substance they choose. Whether it be drugs, food, drink, knowledge, ideas, or spirituality; whether it be of the mind, heart, or stomach, people have every right to put into their body whatever they so choose.
For those of us that believe that government has no right telling people what they can and can not do, that it should not interfere into the personal lives of people, then let us embrace this belief wholeheartedly and apply it across the spectrum. This way, no one can say that we do not believe in absolute individual freedom and liberty.