Should Marijuana be Legal in Australia? Effects of the Drug on the Brain

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By Sachin Trivedi | January 9, 2014 3:30 PM EST

The legalisation of sale of Marijuana in the U.S has reignited the debate as to whether the drug should be made legal in Australia too. Will the policy of prohibition work? Or should Australia follow the route taken by the U.S.

Reuters
Grower Steve Jenkins checks out his marijuana plants at the Botanacare marijuana store ahead of their grand opening on New Year's day in Northglenn, Colorado December 31, 2013. The world's first state-licensed marijuana retailers, catering to Colorado's newly legal recreational market for pot, are stocking their shelves ahead of their January 1, 2014, grand opening that supporters and detractors alike see as a turning point in America's drug culture. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Supporters of legalisation of Marijuana contend that the drug could provide medical assistance in some cases and the state could benefit from the huge revenues the sale of the drug could generate in taxes.

The U.S state of Colorado has allowed the sale of Marijuana in shops and the state of Washington is expected to do the same. People lined up to buy up to 28 grams of Marijuana from licensed shops, with shops expected to generate tens of millions of dollars in revenue.

Some experts believe that prohibition as a policy has clearly not worked in Australia and alternatives should be looked at. Experts say that it is relatively easy to regulate the sale of Marijuana and should be allowed to go on sale for recreational and medicinal purposes.

There is however strong objection to the idea of legalising Marijuana in Australia. Some experts believe that it may be legal for the drug to go on sale in the U.S but it does not necessarily make it safe.

The main active ingredient in Marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, which binds to the surface of nerve cells in the brain. The part of the brain affected by the drug is associated with coordination and movement, thinking, concentration, memory and feelings of pleasure et al.

The negative impact of Marijuana reportedly includes increased blood pressure, red eyes and dry mouth. Long term use of the drug may result in impaired thinking, memory problems, panic attacks and other psychological problems.

Marijuana however can be helpful if used for medicinal purposes. It helps patients to control pain, overcome the feeling of nausea and in some cases help improve the patient's appetite, especially for those suffering with diseases like AIDS et al.

The drug can be very addictive however and young people could be particularly vulnerable to the lure and negative effects of the drug. This has made it very important for law makers to be extra careful while considering the legalisation issue.

Legalisation of the drug could make it easily accessible to the young people for recreational purposes and lead to possible addiction and the associated heath risk. Australia may not legalise the drug any time soon and law makers may keep an eye on the developments in the U.S and study the effects of the recent measures taken by states like Colorado.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Grower Steve Jenkins checks out his marijuana plants at the Botanacare marijuana store ahead of their grand opening on New Year's day in Northglenn, Colorado December 31, 2013. The world's first state-licensed marijuana retailers, catering to Colorado's newly legal recreational market for pot, are stocking their shelves ahead of their January 1, 2014, grand opening that supporters and detractors alike see as a turning point in America's drug culture. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
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