I believe that Marihuana is still illegal mainly due to one particular reason – misconception. There are many arguments against legalising Marihuana, I find them nearly all flawed. Here I will discuss one of the most common – that Marihuana though not very harmful in itself, leads to harder drugs. That it’s a stepping stone towards heroin or cocaine. I disagree.

First of all, let’s start by defining a drug. A drug is a substance that when inserted in a person’s body causes a change in how a person thinks and feels. Whether it is smoked, drank, swallowed, sniffed or injected doesn’t make a difference in what qualifies as a drug. Thus, not considering alcohol and prescribed pills that affect the Central Nervous System, such as tranquilisers, as non drugs because they are legal is a big mistake. After a particular dose of them, a person starts feeling changes such as relaxation, increased self-confidence, euphoria and many others. They are drugs, and how.

The stepping stone theory states that many people who end up hooked on hard drugs usually start with softer ones and then proceed to harder ones. There are many exceptions, however in general I agree with this theory.

Many scientific studies suggest that the first ‘drug’ a person who had proceeded to hard drugs had started with is Marihuana. However usually such research has one big flaw. The people filling in questionnaires or whatever method of data collection say their first drug was Marihuana because they don’t consider alcohol as a drug. Very few people have intoxicated themselves with Marihuana without having done so previously with alcohol at least once in their life.

 When a person takes his first drug, which is usually alcohol he learns a lesson. He learns that with a chemical outside of himself he can control his mood. That he can change a feeling he doesn’t like such as shyness to one he prefers such as self confidence. Due to our culture, where alcohol is socially accepted most people do thread on this stone.

Marihuana does exactly the same thing. The state of mind arrived to after its use is different, however the level of change is approximately the same, if not less drastic (in fact much more people do irresponsible things such as violence or unprotected sex if they are intoxicated by alcohol than Marihuana) than the effect of alcohol.

If Marihuana was legal, the second lesson the individual learns is that if he breaks the law, he can find new drugs with a much more severe alterations in his state of mind. This is a big step. One has to be willing to take a drug he knows is dangerous as well as break the law. With Marihuana criminalised, this step is broken in two. The man who ‘arrives’ to heroin or cocaine would have already got used to breaking the law in order to acquire Marihuana.

 Thus, it is its illegality that makes Marihuana a stepping stone.

This has many implications. That alcohol is sold from a legitimate pub, disco or supermarket means that the consumer doesn’t have to mingle with some criminal network to acquire it. On the other hand, the same networks that supply Marihuana, are more likely then not to be related to networks providing harder drugs.

Another problem is that if the individual considers Marihuana a drug, and alcohol a non-drug, after he smokes his first joint, he has already accepted the fact that he has already taken drugs. It is then a less big deal to take something that falls in the same category – illicit drug. It is tempting to think that after all drugs are not that much of a big deal. By legalising Marihuana, it is easier to spread the idea that alcohol is a drug, with a potential for harm, especially getting addicted to it. Not as devastating as heroin or cocaine, however neither Marihuana is.

This is one of the reasons I strongly believe it should be legalised. I’m not saying it’s harmless. However, even biting your own fingernails can cause appendicitis and thankfully no one is considering making such practice illegal.

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