These past few months, T.O.P, a member of Korea’s popular boy band Bigbang, has brought controversy to the topic of marijuana and its legalization. This was not the only case where celebrities were accused of secretly smoking marijuana. In 1975, the ten most popular Korean celebrities were suspected for smoking marijuana and could not come back to the entertainment industry forever. Well-known rappers such as Iron, E-sense, and Crown-Jay were also accused of marijuana usage. However, judging from the effects, should marijuana usage be seen as an issue when cigarette usage is accepted?
We tend to forget that marijuana usage was not illegal in Korea until the 70s. In the society today, there are two contrasting viewpoints for the usage of marijuana. Prohibitionists assert that marijuana’s hallucinogenic effects lead and lure the user to take more intense noxious drugs. They call it the ‘Gate Control Theory.’
On the other hand, there are people who advocate for decriminalization. They put more weight on the fact that marijuana dependence and its withdrawal symptoms are not as significant as those related to cigarette smoking. According to the research by NIDA (National Institute Of Drug Abuse) in 1994, the toxicity of marijuana and cigarettes were the same, but nicotine showed higher dependence and lower withdrawal overcoming rates. They also argued against the Gate Control Theory by saying that marijuana usage can be a protection against other drug usages.
People are slowly coming to accept marijuana usage for its medical benefits. Not all of the citizens are against marijuana usage as they get to know the nature of the drug how it can be beneficial in medical treatments. Soon the restrictions and punishments are expected to be revised. Currently, people who are accused of using marijuana can be sentenced from a minimum six months to maximum two years in prison.