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Blake Ekelund

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Why is Marijuana Illegal?

Marijuana poses less of a threat than cigarettes do... So.... Why is it illegal?

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  • Sep 28 2012: Marihuana smoking poses as much risks as cigarettes do. Actually, as cannabis burns at a lower temperature than tobacco, marihuana smoke is heavier and contains more carcinogenic chemicals and more tar. It contains also more particles.

    This has theoretically two effects :
    1) just like cigarette smoke, smoking marihuana definitely increases the risk of lung cancer
    2) even more than cigarette smoke, smoking marihuana is likely to increase the risk on lung emphysema due to damage to the lungs.

    I'm not going to do a complete meta analysis on all conducted studies, but a recent talk by Ben Goldacre gives you a good idea about why your claim is absolute excrement of a male cow. On the other hand, you can eat marihuana in a cake.

    This said, Marihuana is illegal because the governement said so. The question is not why marihuana is illegal, but why alcohol isn't. The same arguments used for marihuana go for alcohol:
    - it is addictive
    - it is bad for both mental and physical health if abused
    - it causes a lot of social problems

    Reason why alcohol isn't illegal : because making it illegal would make the problem bigger: there would be a complete black market, the quality of alcohol cannot be guaranteed any longer (think about methanol), the governement would lose a lot of taxes, and especially the whole underground moving of alcohol would make it a whole lot more difficult to find and treat the problem cases.

    Exactly for that reason, it makes sense to make marihuana legal:
    - you can control additives, percentage of THC and general quality of the sold marihuana
    - you take away a major source of income for criminals
    - you make it more easy to find and treat problematic use
    - you can raise taxes on it, and do something useful with that money
    - you can use a whole lot of money that's now wasted on hunting down marihuana for some bigger problems.

    In short: you ask the wrong question, and look for the wrong answer.

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