Looking across the broad scope of American politics, it is clear that there are a number of issues that have promulgated deep chasms in opinion. The ethical debates over abortion, the issue of prayer and public school, and the potential benefits and drawbacks related to stem cell research are just a few of the topics of debate that have heatedly argued over the last decade. While each of these topics represents a unique potential for change, none seems to have as overarching an implication as the debate over whether or not to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Despite the fact that opiate derived drugs can be utilized to control and mange pain, the use of marijuana-as a method for controlling pain and increasing appetite in patient suffering from weight loss-has been highly contested in the American political system.
In an attempt to provide some insight into why politicians and the public so vehemently oppose this measure, this investigation considers arguments on both sides of the debate. By presenting both sides and looking at each critically, it will be possible to formulate some opinion as to whether or not marijuana should be utilized for medicinal purposes. Further, by looking at the issue from both sides, its will also be possible to garner some insight into what, if anything, can be done to quell the fears of those who staunchly oppose the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Considering first the opposition that has erupted over the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, it seems, at the outset, that the primary argument for not utilizing the drug comes from politicians afraid that the legalization of the drug for medical purposes will serve as a "slippery slope" argument for legalizing the drug overall. In short politicians believe that the drug, if legalized for medicinal purposes will eventually be legal throughout the United States-much like alcohol.
While this theory is the primary argument made to keep state legislators from distributing medicinal marijuana, other sources from the federal government sight two potential-and more significant-reasons for keeping the marijuana illegal. The first deals with the government's war on drugs. In other words, "the government is keeping pot illegal so it can maintain its giant drug-war bureaucracy". Although this claim cannot be substantiated with salient data, the reality is that America's war on drugs does involve a large amount of money and individuals. If marijuana were legalized, millions in federal funding would be lost and thousands would loose their jobs.