Argumentative Essay on Legalizing Medical Marijuana

EssayArgumentative Essay

Writing an essay on Marijuana has always been the top subject in college. Here we present a few samples that will help you write your Marijuana essay or term paper:

Sample argumentative essay

"Legalizing Medical Marijuana Pros and Cons"

For many decades, marijuana or cannabis was prohibited in most jurisdictions not only in the United States but also in many other parts of the world. Marijuana was principally prohibited on the grounds that the substance causes many adverse health effects including cannabis dependence and further drug abuse . However, during the past few years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the medicinal properties of marijuana. Indeed, marijuana has a long history of being used for medical purposes, and many researchers today are conducting studies that attempt to establish if these perceived medicinal properties are, in fact, real. In light of the growing amount of evidence that points to marijuana’s medical benefits, the debate about whether the substance should be legalized has also been reignited. While the legalization of marijuana for recreation continues to be debated in various arenas, from argumentative essays to legislation, medical marijuana should be legalized to utilize the benefits that offer for treating various diseases and help further research on its other medical uses.

To begin with, the leading reason why medical marijuana should be legalized is that the act will enable the use of the substance’s benefits in treating various medical conditions. Continuous research throughout the years has yielded many discoveries regarding marijuana’s medicinal properties. Firstly, marijuana has been found to help in the alleviation of pain. Pain is one of the most common symptoms of the disease. For instance, in a study conducted among 1,746 patients prescribed medical marijuana, it was found that over 82% have used marijuana for treating pain. The respondents of the study also reported using marijuana to treat insomnia and anxiety (Reinarman et al. 131). Secondly, marijuana is also beneficial in the treatment of epilepsy. Treating epilepsy can be difficult, especially in severe cases. However, a number of studies show that marijuana can help in easing this disease. In one major case study, a severe case of epilepsy involving a child who suffered as many as 50 seizures in one day was helped by the introduction of marijuana in the treatment regimen. The decision to use marijuana resulted in a decrease in seizures to just 2-3 incidents per month (Maa and Figi 783-785). Finally, marijuana can also be used to help ease many other health conditions such as nausea, vomiting, and muscle deterioration caused by AIDS or chemotherapy for cancer (Mack and Joy 87-90).

The findings, while revolutionary in light of cannabis’ negative reputation, are hardly surprising. Marijuana has been used as an herb for centuries. It was prescribed by physicians for a variety of ailments. In fact, marijuana was primarily considered as medicine rather than a recreational psychoactive substance for most of history. Given the medical purposes of marijuana, it is evident that medical marijuana should be fully legalized. Society must go beyond the stigma associated with the substance and recognize its benefits. The disease causes physical and emotional pain not only among patients but also among their loved ones. The disease is also a financial burden on all levels of society, demanding individuals and families to spend thousands of dollars on treatments and costing the nation billions every year either due to direct healthcare expenses or lost productivity. By legalizing medical marijuana, society can expand the ways by which the healthcare system provides better lives for patients and their loved ones.

Apart from reaping the benefits of marijuana in the treatment of diseases, medical marijuana should also be legalized in order to advance research on its uses. Because marijuana is still prohibited under federal law, researchers are faced with limitations in studying the substance. This means that researchers are losing valuable time that could otherwise be used in gathering more information on its other uses, which could be beneficial to treat a wider scope of diseases. As stated in the journal Nature Neuroscience , “A major impediment to marijuana research is that the substance is still classified by federal law as a Schedule I drug.” This, in turn, makes it “very difficult for researchers to work with. Acquiring the authorizations essential to do marijuana research can take years and require a massive burden of paperwork” (“High Time for Advancing Marijuana Research”). If medical marijuana is fully legalized, researchers will have more freedom to study marijuana as legal barriers will be lifted. Furthermore, based on the fact that previous studies have yielded positive findings on medical marijuana, it can be expected that further research in the future will reveal even more medical benefits.

In conclusion, medical marijuana should be legalized for rational reasons. Firstly, studies have proven the medicinal properties of marijuana. Marijuana is effective in treating pain, epilepsy, and many other symptoms associated with a variety of diseases. Legalization will provide a new chance for a better life for countless patients. Secondly, legalization will have the secondary effect of boosting research. For many years, researchers have been hindered by the legal status of marijuana. If medical marijuana is fully legalized, researchers will have more ability and incentive to discover the positive uses of this substance. In the end, the legalization of medical marijuana can bring new possibilities not only for medicine but the general quality of life for society. The scientific evidence on this issue is clear; the effects of marijuana are not completely negative. Research findings are casting doubt upon the long-standing association between marijuana and drug abuse. When used prudently and under the supervision of health professionals, it can help patients and their families as well as ease the burdens disease imposes upon society. This alone should be more than enough reason to pass laws that will legalize medical cannabis.

Works Cited

“High time for advancing marijuana research.” Nature Neuroscience, vol. 17, no. 481, 2014.

Maa, Edward and Paige Figi. “The case for medical marijuana in epilepsy.” Epilepsia, vol. 55, no. 6, pp. 783-6. doi: 10.1111/epi.12610

Mack, Alison and Janet Joy. Marijuana as Medicine?: The Science Behind the Controversy. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US), 2000, doi:10.17226/9586

Reinarman, Craig, Helen Nunberg, Fran Lanthier, and Tom Heddleston. “Who are medical marijuana patients? Population characteristics from nine California assessment clinics.” Psychoactive Drugs, vol. 43, no. 2, 2011, pp. 128-35. doi: 10.1080/02791072.2011.587700

Sample Marijuana Term Paper

Marijuana for Recreation

The recreational use of marijuana was initially legalized in Colorado and Washington in 2012, after which many other states followed suit. Today, a total of 15 states have legalized marijuana for adult recreational use while 36 legalized it on grounds of medical use (Berke et al., 2021). The medical use of marijuana refers to the use of the plant to address a medical condition. On the other hand, many people who use marijuana refer to themselves as recreational users. Recreational use can be conventionally defined as using marijuana for the purpose of relaxation or pleasure. While the recreational use of marijuana is becoming more widely accepted, it is important to note that it remains a controversial and contentious issue. One only has to look at the ongoing debate on cannabis legislation and the sheer amount of essays and research papers written about it in school. There is no doubt that medical marijuana is essential and benefits those whose treatment regimens include cannabis. The central question, therefore, is if the recreational use of marijuana is completely harmless or if there are some risks to it no matter how insignificant. Recreational marijuana: is it good or bad? There is no simple yes or no answer to this question; rather, the use of cannabis has benefits just as it has risks.

The recreational use of marijuana offers benefits to users, and among them is how it helps loosen inhibitions in social settings. Many people suffer anxiety when socializing. Socializing, however, is an almost unavoidable fact of life. It occurs in almost every setting, from classrooms filled with students to daily operations in the workplace. Marijuana eases this anxiety and helps people become more sociable. There is an abundance of anecdotal evidence from cannabis users describing how marijuana influences them to speak freely among friends and loosen their social outlet, thereby allowing them to function well in social settings. But the proof extends beyond anecdotes. Multiple studies have shown that low doses of cannabidiol or CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol or THC have positive effects on social anxiety (Stoner, 2017). The findings of these studies suggest that as far as social anxiety is concerned, cannabis makes a difference desirable to people who experience this condition.

The finding that marijuana helps ease social anxiety is unsurprising, considering the fact that countless users swear to its effect on their moods in general. Cannabis has been used for centuries for leisure and experiencing its relaxing effect has always been among the main goals of those who use it. In the past, the prevailing image of a marijuana user is someone who fits the profile of a social deviant. People thought of users as stoners—young people who have trouble adjusting to life and spend their days getting high on cannabis. More recent studies, however, have debunked this assumption. Studies involving large numbers of cannabis users revealed that users come from every age and walk of life, many of whom surprisingly enough are just normal people encountered in daily life. One large study in California involving over 4,000 respondents yielded a wealth of evidence that cannabis can be used for recreation without adverse effects. The researchers found that:

In general, they [the respondents] have used it at modest levels and in consistent patterns which—anecdotally—often assisted their educational achievement, employment performance, and establishment of a more stable lifestyle. These data suggest that rather than acting as a gateway to other drugs…cannabis has been exerting a beneficial influence on most. (O’Connell & Bou-Matar, 2007)

Findings by such studies offer a different picture of the effect cannabis has on people’s lives. Largely seen as harmful, studies such as the one mentioned earlier debunk myths about marijuana and foreground the benefits that it can offer.

Another benefit of marijuana is its positive impact on creativity. Many people who use marijuana report experiencing a surge of creativity after smoking cannabis. The active ingredients in marijuana are known to heighten the senses. The sense of smell and taste, in particular, are known to become more acute following its use (Zolfagharifard, 2014). But many believe that its effect goes beyond heightening their senses. People see its use as enabling them to open up their minds, thus allowing them to unlock their creative potential. The science, however, is still on the fence when it comes to confirming this. One study found that low doses of THC did not have any effect on creativity. But the study’s more surprising finding is that high doses of THC actually led to the impairment of creativity among the participants (Kowal et al., 2015). The discrepancy between claims of marijuana’s positive effect on creativity and the findings of such studies presents a puzzle. A possible explanation for this discrepancy, though, is the speculation that the surge in creativity caused by cannabis as more a placebo effect than an actual result of a biochemical process.

While it is true that marijuana can offer benefits such as easing anxiety, promoting relaxation, and encouraging creativity, it is important to note that the science is far from simple black and white. Researchers caution that while cannabis may bring therapeutic value to some people, it can also be harmful to mental health conditions in others. For instance, some studies indicate that marijuana use can exacerbate the symptoms of bipolar disorder, resulting in markedly severer affective episodes, more serious psychotic symptoms, and overall poorer functioning (Stoner, 2017). Some studies also identified a link between marijuana use and increased risk for mental illness among those who have genes identified as associated with mental illness (National Institute on Drug Abuse [NIDA], 2020). In other words, individuals who have genetic risk factors for mental illness may be negatively affected by cannabis rather than benefited by it. Such outcomes go against new findings on recreational cannabis’ positive effects

When it comes to marijuana use, everyone is required to tread lightly. Though marijuana is now known to bring benefits to recreational users, the science is also clear that it can be harmful in certain conditions. Whether a person uses marijuana for recreation, medical, or creative process, the danger of experiencing adverse effects is present. Control of recreational marijuana use has to be observed in order to avoid any damaging consequences. Although there is nothing wrong with recreational marijuana use because of the many benefits it provides personally and socially, and given that it is even legal in many states, it is still important to note that marijuana is a substance that can cause negative effects in some cases. It is essential for users to have extensive knowledge of the drug and their own mental health history in order to make an informed decision on whether or not it is wise to use marijuana even for recreation. After all, taking care of mental health requires knowing which substances benefit it and which substances do not.


Berke, J., Gal, S., & Lee Y. J. (2021). All the states where marijuana is legal — and 5 more that voted to legalize it in November. Business Insider .

Kowal, M. A., Hazekamp, A., Colzato, L. S., van Steenbergen, H., van der Wee, N. J., Durieux, J., Manai, M., & Hommel, B. (2015). Cannabis and creativity: highly potent cannabis impairs divergent thinking in regular cannabis users. Psychopharmacology, 232(6), 1123–1134.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Is there a link between marijuana use and psychiatric disorders?  NIDA.

O’Connell, T. J. & Bou-Matar, C. (2007). Long term marijuana users seeking medical cannabis in California (2001–2007): demographics, social characteristics, patterns of cannabis and other drug use of 4117 applicants. Harm Reduction Journal, 4(16). doi: 10.1186/1477-7517-4-16

Stoner, S. A. (2017). Effects of marijuana on mental health: anxiety disorders. Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.

Stoner, S. A. (2014). Effects of marijuana on mental health: bipolar disorder. Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.

Zolfagharifard, E. (2014). Mystery of 'the munchies' revealed: Cannabis use heightens sense of smell and taste. Daily Mail .


Marijuana Abuse in the United States

The last two decades have seen a massive shift in legislation on medical and recreational marijuana. Whereas marijuana was classified as an illegal substance across the United States and considered as dangerous, a total of 48 states today have legalized the use of marijuana in varying degrees. As of the latest count, 15 states allow recreational and medical use while 33 states allow only medical use (Berke et al., 2021). These sweeping changes are largely owed to the findings of extensive research on the effects of marijuana including its therapeutic value. But while it is true that this plant offers a lot of benefits, the question of whether marijuana is good or bad is yet to be fully settled because the use of marijuana still poses dangers. The issue of dependence on and abuse of marijuana, in particular, has been a concern to researchers and healthcare professionals. Known as marijuana use disorder, this condition can quickly develop into drug addiction and lead to an individual’s loss of control over cannabis consumption and the disruption of daily life.

Marijuana Use Disorder

In order to understand how marijuana poses the danger of addiction, it is essential to first understand what is known about this issue. Many users claim that controlling the use of cannabis is easy compared to other substances. But some evidence suggests otherwise. The National Institute on Drug Abuse [NIDA] recently released data showing that as many as 30% of marijuana users may be suffering from varying degrees of marijuana use disorder (2020). NIDA defines marijuana use disorder as a condition characterized by dependence on cannabis and the emergence of withdrawal symptoms when a person stops taking the substance. These symptoms include a decrease in appetite or increased cravings, restlessness, irritability, dramatic shifts in mood, difficulties with sleep, and varying degrees of discomfort among others. NIDA further explains that marijuana use disorder eventually becomes an addiction when an individual loses control over using the drug to the point that it disrupts various aspects of life. NIDA estimates that around 9% of cannabis users will become dependent on the substance. The risk of dependence is higher among those who start using cannabis at an early age. Studies show that people who use cannabis before they turn 18 are four to seven times more likely to experience marijuana use disorder. In 2015 alone, over 4 million Americans were diagnosed with the condition (NIDA, 2020).

How Marijuana Tolerance Builds Up

Researchers believe that central to the development of marijuana use disorder is increased tolerance to the substance. Dependence on marijuana is a real side effect, and it occurs when users have built up a tolerance for the substance. A review of studies on tolerance conducted by Colizzi and Bhattacharyya (2018) showed that regular cannabis users eventually build up a tolerance to the acute effects of the substance over time. In studies comparing regular users to non-regular users, the immediate effects of exposure to cannabis were more prominent among non-regular users than the effects on regular users. In some cases, the tolerance was complete in that exposure to a single dose of cannabinoid substance did not elicit any effect on the regular users (Colizzi & Bhattacharyya, 2018). Tolerance build-up, in turn, is believed to prompt users into developing dependence. That the effects of marijuana have become more subdued compared to previous exposures can lead users to increase the amount and frequency of consumption.

When Marijuana Use Disorder Becomes Abuse

Unlike opiate abuse and other use of illegal substances, which can set in quickly through heavy use, marijuana abuse can take months and even years to develop. Unfortunately, people who use marijuana rarely realize when recreational use crosses the line to addiction. Addiction occurs when marijuana dependence becomes strong enough to cause disruptions in various aspects of life. One commonly affected aspect is mental health. Researchers have found that long-term use of marijuana increases the risk of developing mental disorders like schizophrenia and depression (NIDA, 2019). Chronic use has also been associated with the exacerbation of bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders, resulting in the manifestation of more severe symptoms in individuals diagnosed with these conditions (Stoner, 2017a; Stoner, 2017b). Addiction can also lead to other health issues. People who suffer from addiction may experience sudden changes in mood, altered sense of time, impaired memory, and other psychotic symptoms like delusions and hallucinations (NIDA, 2019). Addiction can also lead to problems in physical health. Long-term use of marijuana, particularly the consumption in high doses, is linked with an increased risk of developing pulmonary conditions such as chronic cough, increased production of phlegm, and higher rates of lung infections. Addiction also increases the risk of suffering heart attacks (NIDA, 2019).

These negative effects on mental and physical health, in turn, can cause disruptions in people’s quality of life and productivity. It goes without saying that the development of conditions or diseases resulting from cannabis addiction can prevent people from living healthier, fuller, and more stable lives. Such issues may worsen to the point that people lose the capacity to perform in school or the workplace, thereby triggering greater problems and possibly a cycle of substance abuse. For these reasons, it is imperative that users seek intervention in order to free themselves from dependence on marijuana and hopefully reverse damages sustained.


Studies about marijuana still continue today, which accounts for why it remains among the most controversial debate topics discussed in different settings including schools and legislative halls. Experts seek to find the other adverse effects marijuana can bring, while the other end of the spectrum continues to investigate its rich potential to shape the future of healthcare. At this point, what is clear is that marijuana, like many other complex substances, can bring both benefit and harm depending on a multitude of factors and conditions. Whereas cannabis offers medical wonders, it can also cause challenges and issues, among which is marijuana addiction. One can only hope that in time, a perfect balance could be set in order to finally maximize the benefits and minimize the side effects that marijuana offers.


Berke, J., Gal, S., & Lee Y. J. (2021). All the states where marijuana is legal — and 5 more that voted to legalize it in November. Business Insider .

Colizzi, M. & Bhattacharyya, S. (2018). Cannabis use and the development of tolerance: a systematic review of human evidence. Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews, 63, 1-25.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Marijuana DrugFacts . NIDA.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Marijuana research report: Is marijuana addictive? NIDA.

Stoner, S. A. (2017a). Effects of marijuana on mental health: anxiety disorders . Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.

Stoner, S. A. (2017b). Effects of marijuana on mental health: bipolar disorder . Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.

The Negative Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana advocates highlight the medical benefits of marijuana and how the substance is unlike other addictive drugs. Some studies support these claims, however, there are also studies that found potential negative effects of marijuana consumption. Understanding and acknowledging these potential negative effects are necessary for assessing whether marijuana should be a legal or illegal drug. The notable negative effects of marijuana relate to brain development, intelligence, mental illnesses, pregnancy, substance abuse, physical health, marijuana-related crimes, personal relations, and effects of second-hand marijuana smoke.

Short-Term Effects of Marijuana

The most obvious negative effects of marijuana are the short-term effects that come from the ‘high” feeling. These effects include short-term executive function impairment, such as issues with focus, attention, memory, and planning (Weir, 2015). Headaches, dizziness, and lightheadedness are also common short-term effects that last as long as an individual is experiencing the “high” from marijuana consumption. Since these effects are temporary, they may not pose serious threats to an individual’s health. However, this can vary depending on an individual’s overall health condition. Short-term effects may turn into long-term issues if an individual has an underlying health condition.

Marijuana use can also result in hallucinations, making an individual dangerous to himself and others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), marijuana use can cause temporary psychosis and the development of anxiety, paranoia, and unpleasant thoughts. These effects can lead an individual to make wrong decisions and even harm others. For instance, an individual experiencing hallucinations may perceive a family member as someone who is trying to harm them, they may then attempt to fight back and accidentally hurt their family member. The development of unpleasant thoughts and anxiety may even lead to self-harm and even suicide.

Effects on Brain Development

Marijuana can have detrimental effects on brain development, especially on children and adolescents. Some studies showed how marijuana leads to damage to white and grey brain matter, as well as faster thinning of the prefrontal cortex (Weir, 2015; Schmidt, 2021). The damage to brain matter can negatively affect an individual’s impulse control and addiction-related process. This increases the risk of substance abuse as well as other brain function impairment. Additionally, faster thinning of the prefrontal cortex can lead to long-term behavioral and memory problems for users. This is most significant in a developing brain since faster thinning may result in unhealthy brain regions.

Loss of IQ Points

Along with marijuana’s effect on the brain, it can cause the loss of IQ points. Multiple studies concluded that marijuana use, especially beginning at a young age, can cause the loss of six to eight IQ points (cited in NIDA, 2021). However, some studies report a contrast to this conclusion, indicating that other factors may be causing the loss. Still, this potential relationship between marijuana and loss of IQ points is a topic of interest since, if true, it can have detrimental societal effects. While a loss of six or eight IQ points may seem low, it is enough to turn an average IQ score into below average. Additionally, since the legalization of marijuana has led to increased use of the substance, this can lower the IQ score of a significant percentage of the population.

Worsen Mental Illness Symptoms

The medical benefit of marijuana is one of the main arguments for its legalization. Despite many studies suggesting that marijuana is medically beneficial, some studies suggest that marijuana use can worsen the symptoms of mental illnesses. For instance, studies show that marijuana abuse can worsen PTSD symptoms and increase substance use disorder for eating disorder patients (American Addiction Center, 2022; Ganson et al., 2021). High dosage and abuse of marijuana tend to result in these negative effects. However, most researchers agree that there is still a need for more clinical studies on marijuana to assess its effects on mental illness.

Danger to Pregnancy

Similar to alcohol, cigarettes, and other addictive substances, marijuana can have detrimental effects on pregnancy. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a mother using marijuana can pass the chemicals from the substance to the baby. This can cause issues with fetal growth that can lead to birth defects and stillbirth. After birth, children can develop problems with their executive functions. Studies have shown that 20% of pregnant women under the age of 24 use marijuana, indicating that the substance’s danger to pregnancy is a significant issue (NIDA, 2019). The legalization has normalized marijuana use to the extent that pregnant women are even using it while carrying a child.

Aside from the negative effects on birth, using marijuana while pregnant or while breastfeeding can risk putting negative effects of marijuana on the child. THC can excrete from the mother’s body into the breast milk, and then into the child (NIDA, 2019). Since children’s bodies and brains are developing, the negative effects of marijuana can be more severe. It can disrupt their brain development, impair their learning abilities, and change the structure of their brain.

Negative Physical Effects

While most negative physical effects of marijuana are short-term effects, there are instances that individuals can develop health problems due to marijuana use. One of these is the development of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, a disorder that causes regular cycles of marijuana-related symptoms (NIDA, 2019). This includes severe vomiting, nausea, and dehydration. Severe cases of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome can even lead to emergencies where an individual needs medical attention. This shows the severity of the syndrome and the detrimental effects of marijuana on the physical body.

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