Legality of substances is disparate

Of the three highly popular recreational drugs in America, two are legal, and one is not. We’ll call the two legal drugs Drug A and Drug B, and the illegal drug will be called Drug C.

First, we will examine the negative health effects of using these three drugs.

Drug A is the cause of 400,000 deaths in America each year. It is the leading preventable cause of death in America and costs the health industry $50 billion annually. Each year, this drug kills more people than AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, car crashes, murders, suicides and fires, combined.

Drug A causes multiple types of cancer, including lung, throat and mouth cancers. This drug is the direct cause of emphysema, a disease contracted by half a million Americans each year. Emphysema debilitates the respiratory tract, leading to what has been described as “”breathing through a straw.””

The drug also affects other areas of the body, including the heart, brain and bones. It contains toxic chemicals and impairs the immune system. Twice as many people who use Drug A get heart disease than those who do not. Drug A leads to strokes. It also leads to rheumatoid arthritis in women; those who use this drug have double the risk of developing this disease.

Drug A damages fetuses. Mothers who use Drug A are three times as likely to have their babies die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome than mothers who do not. Infants born to mothers who use Drug A can have reduced lung function for years after they are born, and suffer from deformities of the mouth and palate.

This drug also has a strong relationship with miscarriages. In a New England Journal of Medicine study, 80 percent more miscarriages occurred among women who used Drug A than women who did not. In fact, women who use this drug are twice as likely to have a miscarriage than women who use cocaine.

Moving along, Drug B also has a direct link to various cancers. Seventy-five percent of esophageal cancer is related to use of Drug B, and half of cancers of the mouth and throat are linked to its use.

Drug B has also demonstrated a causal relationship with liver disease, called alcohol-induced liver disease. Cirrhosis of the liver, the term used for alcohol’s effect on this organ, is one of the leading causes of death in America.

Like Drug A, this drug has also been linked to birth defects. It has a syndrome named after its effects. When used by pregnant women, Drug B leads to mental retardation, growth deficiencies, central nervous system dysfunction, craniofacial abnormalities and behavioral problems.

Now for the third and illegal drug, Drug C. While Drug C contains carcinogens, a causal relationship between its use and cancer has not been established. Using this drug leads to a greater risk of bronchitis, sore throat and respiratory inflammation. It leads to a short-term drop in hormones that govern development and growth, lowers sperm production in males and can alter the menstrual cycle in women. However, in adults, the latter three health effects are only temporary.

Other negative effects of using this drug include forgetfulness, reduced concentration and anxiety attacks.

Various negative effects have also been attributed to this drug, including birth defects, brain damage, reduced testosterone and increased drug abuse problems. However, recent studies have begun to refute these claims.

Another disputed side effect of using Drug C is reduced hand-eye coordination and motor skills, resulting in poor driving performance and reaction times. In recent studies and reports, using this drug and then driving has proved to be far less of a hazard than when people use Drug B and then drive, however.

In 1990-1991, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration performed a study in seven states, attempting to find a relationship between car accidents and Drugs B and C. Drug B was found to be a factor in 52 percent of crashes, while Drug C was only a factor in 7 percent of them. The report concluded that Drug B was by far the dominant drug-related cause of accidents. It also concluded that there was no relationship between Drug C and fatal automobile accidents.

The three drugs are, in order, tobacco, alcohol and marijuana. The first two are legal, the third is illegal.

After viewing the evidence, it seems that the legality of these three drugs seems to contradict both common sense and medical results. Both tobacco and alcohol are linked to multiple cancers, birth defects, and cost the health industry billions of dollars each year. Marijuana, on the other hand, leads to relatively minor health effects, such as slight respiratory ailments — yet it is illegal.

Tobacco and alcohol are unquestionably more deadly than marijuana. In fact, both tobacco users and alcohol users are known to cause death to other people. There is no known relationship between marijuana use and death for those around the user.

The force behind this is money. The alcohol and tobacco industries spend millions of dollars each year in contributing to and lobbying Congress. So far in the 2001-2002 election cycle, tobacco companies have made $2.2 million in political contributions.

Since 1997, the tobacco industry has given more than $18 million to Congressional representatives and political parties.

Since 1999, the four largest cigarette companies have spent $44 million in lobbying Congress.

Alcohol companies are no better. In the period between 1987 and 1997, these companies gave $26 million to members of Congress and their political parties.

The most flagrant example of “”buying”” favor in Congress occurred in 1997, when the House Appropriations Committee killed a bill that would use the media to warn young people against the use of alcohol. That year, the members of that committee were given $300,000 by alcohol companies.

Obviously, marijuana growers are not contributing money to Congress. This a factor in the illegality of marijuana. Money buys votes.

The answer to all of this is simple: Make the system fair. Either make all three of these drugs illegal, or make them all legal. Since everyone in America knows how well prohibiting alcohol went, I would suggest the latter option: Legalize pot.

Like drivers who constantly ignore speed limit laws, which resulted in the government raising speed limits on highways, people have ignored the prohibition on marijuana for years. It is time to eliminate this useless law.

The policy on marijuana only results in billions of dollars in costs to our government, from the price of court procedures and imprisoning marijuana users.

It is simple logic here, and it is time the government realized this. Legalize pot and eliminate this problem in America. Doing so will save the government millions of dollars annually, free up jails and stop millions of Americans from having to sneak around in order to enjoy this innocuous drug.