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Zac Mullinax Red Ribbon Week Essay October 23, 2012 Coffeehouse

Imagine, for a second, America, with an increased crime rate, more accidents and emergency room visits, in addition to a reduced number of properly equipped, working individuals. This is the potential future of our country, providing marijuana is decriminalized. Many think that this drug is harmless, and would have no negative effects on our nation, but after some extensive research, I have determined that this is simply not the case. Marijuana, also referred to as pot or weed, contains a chemical known as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Highs experienced by marijuana users are a direct result of THC connecting to cannabinoid receptors, located on nerve cells throughout the brain. Pleasure, memory, coordinated movement, thought, concentration, and sensory and time perception are affected when THC connects to cannabinoid receptors in areas of the brain responsible for these functions. Marijuana has various short and long term effects on users. Anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, or distrust are examples of some short term effects marijuana has on the body. Marijuana also increases the users heart rate, putting them at risk of a heart attack 4 times greater than that of the average, non smoking person. Impaired motor skills and judgment, one of the more serious effects of smoking marijuana, could result in an increased crime rate and an increased number in emergency room visits and accidents in general. In addition to the harmful short term effects of marijuana, there are even more harmful long term effects of using this drug. Marijuana has twice as much tar as tobacco smoke and sustained use can result in breathing problems identical to those of tobacco users. Increased risk of lung infections, daily cough, phlegm problems, and more frequent chest colds can also occur with sustained use. Irritability, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping have been reported, in addition to aggression, which, at about one week after the last use of marijuana, reaches its peak. Irritants and carcinogens, cancer-causing substances, provide marijuana with the potential to promote lung cancer. A weekend immune system, which puts you at risk for contracting dangerous diseases and sicknesses, has been found to be a side-effect of chronic marijuana smoking. Schizophrenia, a mental disorder that causes paranoid behavior or hallucinations, can occur after long term use of the drug. Marijuana not only puts people at risk of developing various cancers, and diseases, it is both emotionally and mentally addictive. Addiction to marijuana has a classification very similar to that of other harmful drugs. Those addicted to marijuana have incredibly strong cravings for the drug, and feverishly search for, and use it, no matter what drawbacks it might have. Along with the addictions, and cravings, long term users of marijuana find it hard to quit using the drug due to symptoms of physical withdrawal. Yet still, with this long list of negative side effects, there is one consequence of long-term use that leads to most of the crime and problems we face with marijuana. As the use of marijuana progresses, smokers begin to chase the first high. Chasing the first high is what is experienced when the user requires larger amounts of the drug to

Zac Mullinax Red Ribbon Week Essay October 23, 2012 Coffeehouse

reach the desired euphoric state. When users begin to chase the first high, which will occur eventually, intoxication cannot be attained. They become desperate for more and more marijuana, and end up committing crimes to get it. So why risk it? Statistics paint a grim picture of the potential future of America, if this drug is legalized. A survey in 2001 collected data showing that 20% of American eighth grade students had tried marijuana at least once. 20% of those students were regular users by their sophomore year of high school. In 2002, of all of the people in the U.S. admitted into drug abuse treatment programs, 283,527 people were reported as marijuana having been the main drug they abused. Also in 2002, marijuana related drug arrests attributed to 45.3% of all drug arrests in America. The reason marijuana is such a problem is such a problem is that it is, for most teens, the first illegal drug they use. The book Drugs: the facts about Marijuana, talks about how marijuana is a gateway drug that can lead to kid using more dangerous drugs such as cocaine, Ecstasy, and heroin. So, what effect would the legalization of marijuana have on our country? Many think that taxes could be placed on marijuana, and would boost the economy, but, on the contrary, studies have shown that academic achievement correlates directly to prolonged use of the drug, and that would mean less high school and college graduates. Less adequately prepared workers in Americas workforce would cancel out all of the income that taxes on marijuana would bring in. The number of accidents and emergency room visits would most definitely increase due to marijuanas effect on judgment and motor skills. Keep in mind that driving while intoxicated pertains not only to alcohol but to drugs as well. Clearly the few benefits of legalization are greatly outweighed by the negative effects our country would feel, so anyone with an iota of common sense can see, without a doubt, marijuana should not be legalized. Personally, I have more than just these reasons to show me that marijuana is wrong. I feel, as a Christian, that Gods regulations for me include not using marijuana. 1 Corinthians 6:19, 3:16, and 1 Peter 2:5 talk about how our bodies are the spiritual Temple of God and that we should not damage it. The cancers and sicknesses marijuana can and will cause are doing just that. Romans 12:1 talks about not putting unholy things into our bodies, and a substance, natural or artificial, that impairs my judgment, therefore putting me at risk of committing crimes and, damages Gods Temple sound like an unholy substance to me. Additionally I interviewed the Pastor of Rocksdale Baptist Church, and he provided me with a few more scriptures and his opinion on marijuana and its legalization. He agreed with the arguments I provided in the above scriptures and provided me with the verses Romans 14:13 and Hebrews 13:17. Romans 14:13 talks about putting a block in front of a fellow believers feet, that then causes them to stumble. By legalizing marijuana, people are put at a greater risk of succumbing to temptations to do this drug by those who decriminalized it. Hebrews 13:17 states that believers in Christ

Zac Mullinax Red Ribbon Week Essay October 23, 2012 Coffeehouse

are to follow the laws of the land, and marijuana is most definitely illegal, so my true fellow believers and I must avoid it. The Pastor, Rev. Billy Moss, also shared with me how with the legalization of marijuana, the end does not justify the means. In other words, the consequences are greater than the benefits. He also strongly believes that you are not doing anybody a favor by justifying [what is undoubtedly] sin. Marijuana is a perfect example of a wolf in sheeps clothing, so as Nancy Reagan so adequately put it, Just say No.