Why is tobacco legal and marijuana not?400 million people per year die from tobacco. There are no deaths from marijuana. Why is marijuana the one that is illegal?

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dano7744's profile pic

dano7744 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

I think societal norms and values dictate the answer. Unfortunately smoking tobacco is socially acceptable and smoking marijuana is not. They are both drugs that damage the body but marijuana has psychological effects that society is not willing to accept.

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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

Originally, marijuana was banned when tobacco was allowed because hemp threatened the cotton industry (or so the argument goes).  Keep in mind that marijuana can be just as dangerous and destructive to the body as smoking tobacco.  We have tons of research and data about cigarette smoking because it is legal.  Since marijuana is illegal, it is difficult to run a scientific study about its effects.  We simply do not know what damage marijuana does to the body because it hasn't been studied in the same way as tobacco.  We attribute deaths to tobacco smoking but none to marijuana for the same reason.  It is illegal and therefore unstudied.  Consider to that there are some risks with smoking marijuana that do not exist with tobacco.  Even if marijuana is ingested instead of inhaled, it still contains pesticides and other dangerous chemicals not found in tobacco because tobacco is regulated by the FDA.

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catd1115 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted on

The answer has to more to with societal history than the effects of any of the three substances mentioned.

At any given time in history, a society has social mores. At one point in our country's history, alcohol was seen as the cause of social unrest and family dissolution. Hence prohibition. Since then, alcohol has simply become a more accepted part of society, just as tobacco has been for centuries.

If you look at our current social mores alcohol (while dangerous in many ways) is an acceptable substance and part of the way we socialize. As for tobacco, while it is legal, there are more and more restrictions on its use and even more importantly a greater and greater stigma attached to being a smoker. Marijuana remains in the category of socially unacceptable in mainstream society. On of the earlier posters mentioned the use of marijuana in the sixties. It was very popular with the counterculture of that time, but that is just the point. The groups of people who were associated with marijuana use were considered outside mainstream society and were not the driving political or economic force of the time.

I have to agree that I also think money is a big part of why it has never been legalized. It may be the largest cash crop currently around, but it still has a social stigma, and would continue to in many parts of society even if it were legal. Therefore big business is not willing to take that financial risk.

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Marijuana is not legal because there is not a BILLION dollar industry pumping millions of dollars into the campaigns of our legislators and spending millions of dollars a year on lobbyists.  Tobacco is doing those things and it is why it is still legal.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It's got a lot to do with tradition.  Alcohol, too, seems to be much more dangerous than marijuana.  But the thing is that tobacco and alcohol have been parts of our society for centuries (alcohol for much longer, tobacco for about 500 years).  Marijuana has not been and therefore it is much harder for it to be accepted.  (And, of course, there's not a huge lobby of marijuana companies to keep it from being banned.)

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mimerajver | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted on

That a substance may result in death is not the only reason to declare it illegal. Tobacco is indeed most unhealthy, although not every smoker dies from its effects. Moreover, you can see anti-tobacco campaigns all over the world. They have proved effective, since the number of young people who smoke has been decreasing considerably.

That said, the short-term effects of marijuana consumption can lead to confusional states, motor coordination problems, memory loss, increased heart rate, decreased cognitive skills and distorted perception. If someone suffers from a heart condition of which she is unaware, a few drags at a marijuana cigarette might give her heart arrest and, eventually, cause her death if not treated immediately.

In high doses, it can cause temporary delusion and paranoia. There have been reports of suicide and murder by users in these states.

Long-term effects are alarming. The immune system decreases and the risk of cancer, respiratory problems and heart diseases increase.

Moreover, because many users get accustomed to the euphoria they experience under the effects of marihuana and want to stay "high," they move on to more dangerous drugs such as cocaine or heroine. This happens because it is easy to hide the moment of consumption, since these drugs are not smoked and leave no telling smell. Thus, marijuana has been classified as a "gateway drug."

You can see that the problem is not simple. It is true that, specially in the 1960s, many people smoked marijuana for some time, then dropped it, and their lives were seemingly unaffected. But many others stepped onto a path of no return. Thus, better safe than sorry.

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thewanderlust878 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 3) Salutatorian

Posted on

The topic of legalizing marijuana and drugs in general is one that has been going on forever and does not look like it will stop any time soon. In my opinion tobacco is legal and marijuana isn't because of the long-term effects. For example, many people smoke for decades before it truly becomes a huge problem for them (cancer, liver damage, etc), but for marijuana, the effects are much more intense in a shorter period of time. 

Hope this helps!

najm1947's profile pic

najm1947 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

It is game of making the rich more rich by declaring marijuana illegal and governments are involved in it. I fully agree with Leaped (post 27 & 28) regarding this. Don't be surprised if you find the names of some legislators in this game.

leaped's profile pic

leaped | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

That a substance may result in death is not the only reason to declare it illegal. Tobacco is indeed most unhealthy, although not every smoker dies from its effects. Moreover, you can see anti-tobacco campaigns all over the world. They have proved effective, since the number of young people who smoke has been decreasing considerably.

That said, the short-term effects of marijuana consumption can lead to confusional states, motor coordination problems, memory loss, increased heart rate, decreased cognitive skills and distorted perception. If someone suffers from a heart condition of which she is unaware, a few drags at a marijuana cigarette might give her heart arrest and, eventually, cause her death if not treated immediately.

In high doses, it can cause temporary delusion and paranoia. There have been reports of suicide and murder by users in these states.

Long-term effects are alarming. The immune system decreases and the risk of cancer, respiratory problems and heart diseases increase.

Moreover, because many users get accustomed to the euphoria they experience under the effects of marihuana and want to stay "high," they move on to more dangerous drugs such as cocaine or heroine. This happens because it is easy to hide the moment of consumption, since these drugs are not smoked and leave no telling smell. Thus, marijuana has been classified as a "gateway drug."

You can see that the problem is not simple. It is true that, specially in the 1960s, many people smoked marijuana for some time, then dropped it, and their lives were seemingly unaffected. But many others stepped onto a path of no return. Thus, better safe than sorry.

the above info you posted is to be honest lies and uneducated to say the least.NONE of the  MEDICAL info you posted is true at all.nor is your research . I think you need to watch the documentaries , clearing the smoke, and the rick Simpson story for starters.
no scientific mind in the world realistically quotes any of those items you mentioned unless it is for profit. because they all know it isnt true at all.
In-fact cannabis has been prov-en to reverse altzheimer's and dementia. as the cannabinoids have been proven to protect the nerves and regulate body weight , and also cannabinoids are in mothers milk.
and to induce an over dose,which by the way has been never done. you would have to ingest 1500lbs of it in 20 mins, enjoy if you can do it.LOL
but basically i suggest you find out more on the subject as your present resources are failing you miserably factually speaking.

leaped's profile pic

leaped | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Why is tobacco legal and marijuana not?

400 million people per year die from tobacco. There are no deaths from marijuana. Why is marijuana the one that is illegal?

Cannabis is illegal for one reason. it makes the rich more money by being illegal.
as a former speaker for law enforcement aginst prohibition, I can tell you those who say it is a gateway drug etc and it causes brain damage etc, are either ill informed or absolutely idiots.
no human being ever died from use of cannabis ever in recorded history 2727bc to be exact.(tylenol kills around 500 a year)anyone saying different usually cannot come up with any death stats or even any stats regarding cannabis because they blindly listen to propiganda.
law enforcement and politicians get money for budgets multiple times , one person arrested gets counted three times on 3 budgets not including court. and of course if that went away then we wouldnt need tax cash for those budgets. nor would we need 120$ a day to keep nonviolent people who are in jail.
when its as less harmful than eating produced food. infact when compared to eating potatoes .DR,Lester Grinspoon of harvard meridas ( med school) says he is now very careful on the amount of potatoes he eats.
but unlike the propiganists . i say google the heck out of it, and look where the money goes and youll  see the real reason why its illegal.
IT DOES NOT CAUSE BRAIN DAMAGE . IT DOESNT CAUSE CANCER. IT CURES CANCER AND THE US GOV, HAS A PATENT ON THIS CURE THEY SAY DOESNT EXSIST, IT IS PAT # 6057733? i believe google it. do not get sucked in by nay sayers who quote propiganda they usually have no idea what theyre talking about

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rupert221 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

In a book barrack Obama wrote he said he used to smoke weed and do a little coke. Why on earthtoes he think legalizing weed is crazy??

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rupert221 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

Also shakespear the brilliant play writer. A scientist found 25 pipes with cannabis resin in them, in his garden. I assume he would relax in his garden smoke a bowl and write his brilliant plays. very logical 

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rupert221 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

News. Tommy chong got news he had prostate cancer. He denied treatment from doctors and only used hemp oil and know he is cancer free.

najm1947's profile pic

najm1947 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

A good discussion on tobacco vs marijuana - lobbying, health issues, benefits of marijuana as cure/prevention of some of the ailments but it is all relevant to the west. In east thing are very different though it is also illegal there too.

Marijuana is found abundantly in wild and its dried leaves are used to produce 'charas', something for smoking like tobacco.

Marijuana fresh leaves make a strange beverage and is quite popular. Leaves crushed with almonds & opium seeds and then mixed with a large quantity of milk is the beverage used in many parts of Central Asia, Pakistan and India by some people to counter scorching heat. It is also used by professional wrestlers as a tonic. Jalaluddin Rumi, the great Sufi poet of Persia was an addict of this beverage and would remain under the influence of this beverage for many days.

Surely it has some good effect that so many people are using it. I think further research is needed on marijuana and as I understand, the same is going on.

 

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