Editorial: Marijuana is a choice

Editorial Board

Marijuana has crept into headlines, slowly but surely, yet again with little noise. More and more studies are coming about that rival the counter arguments of pro- and anti-marijuana legislation parties. While some argue a joint after work would be the equivalent of a beer after work, others argue that marijuana will have a more concrete effect than many think.

Both are true and supported by science.

In 2012, the Journal of the American Medical Association released its findings, during a 20-year time period, that the recreational use of marijuana did not have a direct correlation to complications of pulmonary functions. The Journal stated, “marijuana smoke contains many of the same constituents as tobacco smoke, but it is unclear whether smoking marijuana causes pulmonary damage similar to that caused by tobacco.”

The study went on to state that when researching the evidence between injury and inflammation in the lungs and airways, all research was inconclusive for determining that marijuana smoke directly affected the pulmonary function. This is vastly different from widely-acknowledged research that shows tobacco smoke from cigarettes does affect the pulmonary functions of the airwaves.

However, a study performed in 2014 by the collaboration between Northwestern University and Harvard University showed that using marijuana recreationally causes certain health problems, many of which were thought to be myths meant to persuade people against using the drug.

The study found that the regions of the brain that exercise emotion and motivation were abnormally altered in volume, shape and density, even in users who only got high once or twice a week. The research also found that the size and density were directly related to how many joints the person smoked during the course of the study.

Both findings were researched and studied by some of the leading health organizations and universities in the nation. Both results were based upon unarguable science and prolonged trial studies. So these studies, along with many others, should show legislators that the final choice should be left to the person consuming the marijuana. Regardless of the new information provided concerning marijuana use, the government should play a non-restrictive role in legislating on marijuana, unless of course it wishes to legislate against alcohol and tobacco as well.

Legalization is not a cure-all — it’s not like taking an Advil to relieve a headache. It’s like having a beer after work. You have one or two, you relax and you go to bed. It’s a recreational use. Or, it could be like pounding 12 beers in one night and participating in binge drinking. There’s no use in hiding the effects of using marijuana. We know binge drinking will physically hinder your body and can kill you. Binge marijuana smoking can probably do the same. But should we leave it up to the governments to tell us what we can and cannot use recreationally?

Many states have taken steps toward allowing their citizens the right to choose. Some states, like Iowa, continue to refuse that option. There are pros and cons, as previously stated, to why the legalization should go through. It’s high time Iowa joins in the charge for that same goal.