The legalization of marijuana is the topic which keeps returning like a boomerang in all discussions about legalizing this substance in Poland, causing controversy and disagreement between politicians and citizens. Interestingly enough, the discussions about marijuana are increasingly associated with the need for legalizing this drug for recreational purposes.
As far as marijuana is concerned, there are no people in between who are just neutral to the whole thing. But as is so often the case, Poles find it difficult to have agreement on crucial decisions regarding the legalization of this soft drug and the matter trails off from time to time – this time because of a study published in February 2017. According to the study, conducted by Mariusz Jędrzejko (Centre for Social Protection) and Roman Sieroń (The Catholic University of Lublin), an increasing number of Polish young people become frequent drugs users at a very early age. This may be one reason why the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana arouses such controversies in Poland. Although, every year more and more Polish citizens demand that marijuana should be legalized, the Government still opposes. Bearing in mind the statistics, this should not be surprising. In fact, it poses specific problems mainly in relation to its harmfulness, but not only. Marijuana may also open the door to other drugs which can be legalized in the future, and negatively affect the economy and labour market in Poland.
The truth is that there are many Polish citizens who defend the idea of legalizing marijuana in Poland. Their main argument in favour of legalizing marijuana is that marijuana, as a substance, is less harmful to one’s health than alcohol and tobacco. Even Barack Obama once said that “I don’t think (pot) is more dangerous than alcohol”. This is true, but one should bear in mind that it is, still, harmful to some extent. According to the leading experts, marijuana contains a substance called delta 9-THC, which negatively affects the nervous system. Excessive amounts of THC lead to immobility, impaired or poor memory, schizophrenia and addiction. Moreover, Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly (the University of Mississippi) states that high-potency marijuana can lead to dangerous behaviour (i.e. intoxicated driving). He said “You really have to be careful. The danger of this high-potency material is not with the experienced marijuana smokers, but young people who really don’t know what they’re smoking. They don’t know what to expect, and before they know it, they’ve inhaled too much”.
“People need more freedom”, supporters of marijuana say. That is true, but too much freedom in the hands of citizens may one day have disastrous consequences. Now, people want the legalization of marijuana but at a later time they might demand more drugs to be legalized. For instance, cocaine or heroin which lead to depression, weight loss and other major diseases. As proven by the leading experts, one of them being prof. Wayne Hall, people addicted to soft drugs, sooner or later, intend to try hard drugs. Polish drug-addicts from an addiction treatment centre called “Monar” confirm these words. “It all started with marijuana. I smoked more and more, until I eventually tried amphetamine”, said Pawel who is struggling with drug dependence. Additionally, Merle Haggard, who was an popular singer and songwriter in the United States, admitted that marijuana is extremely addictive. “Cause I was already a smoker, it was easy to get addicted. The one thing that they don’t teach you about marijuana is how addictive it is”, he said. They key role of the Polish government is to set clear limitations in order to maintain the well-functioning country.
Marijuana enthusiasts frequently mention the positive socio-economic effects of legalizing this soft drug. The best example of such a case is allegedly Colorado, where marijuana has been legal since 2012. Indeed, the revised law on marijuana has contributed to increased profits from taxation and lower rate of unemployment in Colorado, but the situation in Poland is not comparable. Thousands of young Poles encounter great difficulties in finding steady employment, and legalization of marijuana can only exacerbate the already difficult situation. Why? Because when people are in a poor financial situation, they often treat stimulants as a way to escape from personal problems. Subsequently, they may overuse marijuana, become addicted, and be unable and unwilling to perform work professionally. This would both worsen the current labour market situation in Poland and negatively affect the government budget.
All in all, the legalization of marijuana is a very contentious topic in Poland. Polish citizens are often inundated with reports about the advantages of marijuana, but the disadvantages are usually overlooked. For this reason, people in Poland need to be educated about threats which marijuana poses. In fact, marijuana is harmful, may open the door for other even more harmful stimulants, and has a negative impact on Polish economy. Fortunately, the Polish government does not seem to be willing to legalize marijuana.