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Effects on Society and Kids from Recreational Drug Legalization

Updated: Apr 12, 2021

Marijuana has been legalized nationally by Justin Trudeau for a while now, and momentum is gaining on legalizing harsher drugs such as cocaine and heroine. What are the pros and cons?

With legalization of marijuana and possible other drugs like cocaine, access and attitude toward recreational drugs have changed in society. What does the research show?

“Despite the fact recreational drug legalizations may be beneficial for those that are ALREADY addicted to drugs, decrease society costs, there can be negative effects on increase usage and increase addictions on society and future generations (kids).”

Below you will find some pros vs cons arguments regarding drug legalization:

Good things about Drug Legalization

(1) Decriminalization- Legalization of marijuana has been going on for a couple years now, after Liberal PM Justin Trudeau made it a law to legalize weed since 2018. Ever since then, criminalization of possession of marijuana has been stopped, and decriminalization of people in the past who possessed and got in trouble with the law, have been on-going. There are stories of how a person's quality of life, ability to achieve goals in life, even simple travelling, have been shattered by a simple possession criminal record in the past. The detrimental effects of a criminal record on simple possession can be enormous and ruined many lives. With legalization, these people can get a second chance to achieve goals that were once limited by criminal records, and have a life again.

(2) Decrease society cost, boost society income- with legalization, the cops get less "calls" to deal with someone smoking weed, simple possessions, and this saves tax payer money. The legal system of the society as a whole, also waste less money on prosecuting and defending these cases in the law courts. Lastly, in order to sell weed legally as a shop, shop owners have to pay a large fee to the city just to open a shop. The city and society gets richer, and if the funds are allocated properly, can boost society as a whole. The "cost" of the drug itself (whether it is marijuana or cocaine, etc) under legalization of the government, is usually more expensive compared to prior legalization. A lot of this income goes to marijuana growing companies, and it is not a surprise Justin Trudeau, finance minister Bill Morneau, and other politicians, all have personal investments in these private marijuana manufacturing companies, prior to the start of legalization. Nevertheless, some of the income generated from weed sells, in the form of taxes paid by marijuana shops, go to the city for city development.

(3) Drug quality and drug overdoses- with the government's hands in the weed business, or future harsher drugs (e.g. cocaine), the prices of the drug shoots up, but the quality and "purity" of the recreational drugs also get a boost. Prior to legalization, marijuana sold by private growers behind the law, in shady places, the weed can often be sprayed with pesticides, toxic and harmful chemicals, only to be claimed by the seller that batch is a natural more potent strain. The result is more harm done health-wise on the drug users. This point can also be extended to future legalization of harsher drugs such as cocaine. In B.C. many overdose deaths are related to people taking in impure drugs lased with other toxic chemicals and other drugs such as fentanyl. With legalization, drugs users that are ALREADY addicted should see less deaths and more pure drugs

(4) Crime rate- with legalization, gangs and shady growers of marijuana turn to other products to compete. This is not to say growing weed behind the law stops. In fact, many weed shops still deal under the table with shady growers and receive strains and batches not provided by the government, increasing their variety of products in the shops, attracting customers who do not know which ones are endorsed by government, and which ones are from shady growers that can be sprayed with toxic chemicals on them. Nevertheless, with the government's hands in the business, gangs and growers get less area of the "pie" to earn their income and they would be more willing to turn to selling other types of drugs and products to earn more money elsewhere. "Gang wars" between gangs have intensified due to government took part of their pie. This might seem like a good thing as gangsters kill each other off. However, there are often innocent victims killed in the cross fire. Lastly, if you are a mother of a gangster, you might be blaming legalization by the government as the pressure cooker that got your son killed, who might have had a future if he later on walk away from gangs and integrate into society work force

Bad things about Drug Legalization

(1) Availability increase leads to more usage and ADDICTION- with more shops in every corner of the block, and legalization along with decriminalization, usage of drugs have skyrocketed. People view using drugs as not such as a bad thing, and are more willing to try compared to before. However, with any type of drugs (even caffeine), there is a huge component of addiction involved to them. People who boast weed or marijuana is not addictive, simply do not know what they are talking about, as they tend to not be doctors or healthcare professionals who have studied drugs and addiction. Indeed, people do not realize that addiction to a substance can occur even after trial of one time usage. The effect on the dopamine reward system is only realized by doctors, but not the general public not knowing these substances can create life-long addictions. Lastly, with shops everywhere, kids get more exposure to these drugs and new technologies/products, can easily get their hands on them, without realizing the harm they cause (e.g. vaping has been linked to irreversible lung damage among kids who vape)

(2) Gateway drug open to harsher drugs- despite the fact many people argue that marijuana is not a gateway drug to harsher drugs such as cocaine and heroine, research around the world done by prominent first world universities, show differently. These research show after trial of marijuana, a person is more likely open to try other illegal or recreational drugs such as ecstasy, MDMA, cocaine, heroine, just to name a few. The people who become frequent users of weed, have altered their perception towards recreational drugs and addiction, stating that they are not addictive, they can control their usage, when in reality they have no control to their addiction. These people also think other serious drugs are not as severe or as addictive, and as a result are more willing to try and become addicted to cocaine, fentanyl, etc.

(3) City switches spending to addiction control- with legalization and an increase in addiction, the city, despite making some money from legalization, also has more spending bill now in the realm of addiction and providing safe sites for drug use. The shift in spending into addiction centres, addiction programs, rehab institutions, and safe injection sites, has been increasing exponentially since the start of legalization of marijuana and will only increase more if more harsher drugs are leagalized. This can totally offset the income made by legalization of drugs, into a negative state where money is actually lost overall

(4) Society as a whole becomes more lackadaisical and not willing to work, claiming more disability cases, burdening work force and tax payers- It is no surprise marijuana makes a person more lazy and cognitive ability and memory diminished. This argument can be extended to other forms of harsher drugs. Coffee and Nicotine are stimulants and actually boost working mentality. Marijuana and alcohol, on the other hand, are depressants, and long term usage, even after work in your own home, has been shown in research to affect a person's overall mentality, mood, memory, ability to focus over time, and as a result diminish "productivity" overall. The result of this wave, long time after legalization and increase dependence, addiction, and usage of weed, is that working individuals become less productive, and seek any excuse medically to claim EI, disability, to avoid work, and thus burden society as a whole. This is the truth over time.

(5) Kids, future generations health, attitudes, and actions affected- With kids more exposed to marijuana, with shops in every block, more kids are likely to try weed and products compared to before. The end result is more kids will be affected health-wise, stunting optimal growth of their brain and body, memories/cognitive ability/mood affected, and more chances of addiction happening. With the prevalence of marijuana, and possible harsher drugs in the future with more legalizations, the kids' attitudes also change. They view the drugs not as serious, and this can affect their actions down the road, leading to more dependence, and more violence possible as drugs do affect mood and actions.

***THE LAST WORD by Dr. Kevin Lai:

"With the aggregate of reasons for and against legalization of drugs, my view leans more AGAINST the legalization of more drugs in the future. As a medical profession, I know about the health effects of substances on human health, and the aftermath of usage, such as addiction. Many people will argue legalization can create a safer environment and society can be boosted economically. However, I argue safety is only increased for those that are ALREADY addicted to any drugs, and financially it is not always what it seems. The people that are getting richer are in the background behind the scenes- the politicians making the law, the companies providing the drugs- but not necessary the society as a whole. Money made thru legalization is not often spent back onto the people or the city. In fact, drug legalization will only augment spending of society on addiction and rehabilitation services, dwindle working mentality, diminish work force overall. Lastly, and more importantly, for anyone who have kids, the INCREASED exposure to drugs, the INCREASED probability of anyone's kids trying, using, and becoming addicted to any types of legalized drugs, just doesn't sit well with me for the future- it would only make our future less bright"

- Dr. Kevin Lai

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