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Legalizing marijuana

            Cannabis sativa, most commonly known as marijuana, has been used for recreational and medical purposes for thousands of years. Many have smoked marijuana to experience the drug's psychedelic effects, while others use the drug to treat various illnesses and pain. Within the past century, however, the drug's medicinal value has come under much scrutiny. Those supporting the legalization of marijuana feel that the government has withheld a soothing drug from those who are suffering from severe illnesses, and as a result, these advocates find the government to be uncompassionate to those in pain. Nevertheless, those against the legalization of this drug contest that marijuana has considerable side effects and offers no medicinal benefits to society. These opponents encourage the government's political involvement in the controversy because they feel that, with government funded experiments, the drug can be proven ineffective and unsafe. The best option for today's society, however, is to continue the ban of medicinal marijuana. The legalization of this drug for medical purposes can only lead to future drug addiction, negative side effects, and susceptibility to further damage through recreational use. Essayist Sally Satel suggests that instead of legalizing marijuana, or any other drug, that the best answer is force. She gives a well known example of celebrities and drug use, most recently, the legal problems of Robert Downey Jr. The judge who sentenced him to six months in prison stated, "I"m going to incarcerate you in a way you won't like, but it may save your life" (Satel, "For Addicts, Force Is the Best Medicine", 101). Satel, a psychiatrist who treats drug addicts, feels that by keeping them in treatment, the legal consent - whether it is forced or not - may in fact keep the addicts alive (101). She convinced that the payoff is colossal. These addicts learn the "social competence, trust in others and optimism about the future that are the prerequisites for a life without drugs" (103).

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