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Should Marijuana Be Legalized?

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Nov 20th 2012

Should Marijuana Be Legalized?On Tuesday, November 6, 2012 both Washington State and Colorado voted to legalize the sale and recreational use of marijuana in the same way that alcohol is bought and sold. What people need to be very cautious about is the fact that the production, sale and use of marijuana remains illegal by federal law. Federal law always takes precedence over state law regardless of what the people of any state voted to enact. When this drug was allowed to be sold by medical prescription in many states, the federal government opted to ignore what was happening. Now, no one is sure of what measures, if any, the government may take. Therefore, it is very important to understand that users remain liable to arrest and imprisonment for the possession or use of this substance. This creates real confusion for everyone both on the local, state and federal level. There are as yet no signs that the government is likely to legalize pot for the entire nation.

Should Marijuana be legalized for the whole nation?

Generally speaking the use of marijuana, also known as pot and cannabis, has been controversial for a variety of health reasons. There have always been those who insist it is a harmless drug while others have expressed great reservations about it's hallucinogenic qualities. In this blog, we will explore the pros and cons of cannabis in as objective and fair a way as possible.


It is now well established that those people who have the potential for Major Depression or Schizophrenia can bring those illnesses into reality through the use and abuse of pot. This is a very serious potential side effect for those with this vulnerability. Following the diathesis-stress model people become ill after enough stress and trauma build up so that potential illnesses become reality. For example,  the a use of marijuana can bring about a mental illness in someone with the potential for it but for whom the illness would not occur in the absence of drugs and serious trauma , such as having been abused.  In other words there are those people who might not become ill if they avoided pot.

It is never a good thing when mood altering substances fall into the hands of adolescents whether alcohol, pot or any other substance. Recent studies show that marijuana use among teens risk lowering their IQ level. The teenage brain is continuing to develop and is very sensitive to drugs and alcohol. Substances interfere with cognitive functions and learning at a critical period in their intellectual development. What is particularly troublesome about this is that it is almost accepted as fact that teens will experiment with pot. Worse than merely experimenting with that substance, others use it on a regular basis.

Despite the fact that some pot users insist that their driving skill are unaffected by the substance, we know that, when used, it affects perception and, therefore, the ability to make good decisions when at the wheel of the car. In fact, the new law in Colorado and Washington have the provision that drivers must not be under the influence when driving just the same as with alcohol.


At the very least people should not be arrested for using small amount of cannabis. The fact is that huge numbers of people and from all walks of life are using it. At best cannabis should be legalized and regulated so that it is taken out of the hands of criminal organizations such as the drug cartels that smuggle it into the country as huge profits. Police efforts could be directed towards putting a stop to dangerous drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other substances that are dangerous to health and life.

As with alcohol, legalization could be more easily kept out of the hands of kids who would not be sold the product if they enter a store. To make a purchase they would have to present an ID that shows their picture and date of birth. While there is no perfect way to prevent kids from drinking and smoking. Legalization would put give marijuana the same status as alcohol.

In addition, people cannot be prevented from drinking or smoking alcohol, tobacco and marijuana despite their health consequences. In the end, everyone has to make their own choice. The fact that marijuana is illegal on the federal level does not stop it's usage.

Legalization would also mean that at all levels the government could exert quality control over it's production. At the present time users are at the mercy of unscrupulous criminals who put all types of things into the cannabis in order to make their supply stretch further. The point is that the public could be protected. There is an analogy to this with the production of moonshine or bootleg whiskey in the Appalachian Mountains. Many people died when similar types of criminals added dangerous chemicals to the formula in order to sell more. Today, the manufacture and sale of moonshine is regulated by the government to insure quality control and to ensure tax collection. The same type of thing could and should happen with marijuana.

What are your opinions about this controversial issue? Should the federal government legalize the production, sale and use of marijuana?

Your comments are greatly encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD



Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Pot should be legalized - Bob - Nov 27th 2012

I think most people think it sould not be so. My take on this is legalize it. If not then make alcohol and cigarettes illegal too. 

yes we should legalize - Randall - Nov 25th 2012

Thank you for the objective article. As an experienced user of 40years the only thing I would add regarding the dangers of driving under the influence is that the reflexes are slower. I think that is why people who drive while high drive slow.

In regards to legalization there are principles that are more noteworthy than the actual outcome of legalization. It has been noted that the mindset of the time of prohibition was flawed with prejudices and injustices particurally regarding race. The ironic part is that the propaganda at the time for prohibition played on those prejudices to pass prohibition.

Now as we evolved through time even pass the Civil Rights Movement we have made changes how we regard our fellow man of color we have not addressed the flaws which caused our social dysfunction. Prejudices were prevolent when Prohibition started and the assessment as to this need originated from a self serving agenda which is the opposite of what any political office is supposed to do. Serving others is a Godly principle. Any decision that is made under the premise of these dark principles is a decision worth a do over. Because we operated under this premise of principle for 75 years we have suffered. The suffering is too long to list. Not only should it be legalized but there should also be an apology for this flawed way of operating which has been more self serving than it has been with intent to serve others. Btw ...I don\\\'t need to be governed regarding alcohol as time and experience has been my best teacher as it should be with weed for others.

Thank you for listening to my rant.


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