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Has the time come to legalize marijuana? Marijuana has been known to man for quite some time now and has been used for centuries. The Marijuana prohibition has been in effect since 1937 and continues today. The real question is, is it time that we as Americans reconsider this prohibition and look closer at the possible positive effects that marijuana can offer? If the main goal of marijuana prohibition is to stop Americans from using it, then it has failed just like the alcohol prohibition did in 1920 when it was enforced. Studies clearly show that out of the three substances of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, that marijuana is the least addictive (Schlosser, 1994, p. 41).
This also doesnt mean that marijuana is harmless. Research shows that marijuana damages short term memory, distorts perceptions, impairs judgment and complex motor skills, alters heart rates, and has the potential to trigger severe anxiety, paranoia, and lethargy (Shall, 1995, p. 10). According to NORML (The National Organization to Reform Marijuana laws) marijuana is said to be the second largest cash crop in America and has a value of around $ 14 billion. Revenues for Marijuana is said to have annual sale production as large as the Coca-Cola Companys (Warner pg. 32 - 33) The Marijuana trade is obviously very valuable and is often overlooked. If we took the amount of marijuana purchased annually and taxed it, it would be around 250 million dollars in tax money that the government isnt receiving due to the fact that marijuana is illegal.
Besides the fact that the government is losing out on a lump sum of tax money, the government spends an incredible amount to keep marijuana illegal. Some of the expenses are: cost of active law enforcement, cost of prosecution of accused offenders, cost of incarceration of convicted offenders, cost of (publicly funded) anti-drug education and propaganda, hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue that would be generated if drugs were legal and taxed, public cost of funerals for police officers killed in sting operations, cost of foster care and social services for children of incarcerated offenders. (web) Many people argue that if marijuana is legalized, then "harder" drugs such as cocaine, heroin, acid ect... will take over because marijuana is said to be a "gateway" drug. People are afraid that the legalization of marijuana will lead to a drug happy corrupt society. This could very well be a good point and is definitely something the government should look further into before legalizing marijuana. There is also another point of view that thinks that if marijuana is legalized, then the drug dealers would be virtually eliminated, and almost all of the "hard drugs" are connected with marijuana dealers.
Another major argument is the use of jail cells for marijuana offenders. Jail overcrowding is not uncommon these days and a lot has to do with the imprisonment of marijuana offenders. Some people feel that marijuana is bad and offenders should do their time in jail, wile other people argue that the jail space could be used for serious criminals that are committing harmful crimes. There are currently many reform groups out there that are trying to promote the legalization of marijuana. Two examples are: NORML (The National Organization to Reform Marijuana laws) and MLO (Marijuana Legalization Organization).
These groups set up committees which have frequent meetings about the legalization movement. Many members of these reform groups are marijuana users themselves and would like to see marijuana available for all people, to be used for social as well as medicinal use. A lot of the reform groups focus on legalizing marijuana for medical use because it is the most logical way to welcome the use of marijuana into society. The medical issue has been a very big topic for awhile now and a few states have tried very hard to legalize it for this purpose. Some of these include: California, Arizona, and Alaska. These states are also in favor of domestic hemp growing for commercial product use such as clothing and other materials.
The violence and "drug war" issues are also big topics for the legalization of marijuana. Many people argue the fact that alcohol causes aggressive behavior and marijuana does not, but yet alcohol is legal and marijuana is not. People also argue the because marijuana is illegal, the market for marijuana is completely uncontrolled. This means that dealers and buyers are constantly worried about getting "busted. " Marijuana dealers must protect themselves because they cannot rely on police for protection. So they arm themselves, and then violence becomes an issue.
So again, the real question is, is it time that we as Americans reconsider this prohibition and look closer at the possible positive effects that marijuana can offer? In this topic there are many different point of views. The biggest argument is that marijuana is a drug and should be treated like any other mind altering substance, but so is alcohol and that is legal. Marijuana use in America is very popular and not uncommon, that is probably why there is such a strong desire for many Americans to promote the legalization of this substance. Although many people are in favor of legalization, there are still a number of people who think differently. In my opinion, it all depends on the generation of the person.
If a person grew up during the 60 s- 80 s, there is a very good chance they will be more laid backed on the topic. If a person grew up during the 20 s- 50 s chance are they will be against it and a little shy of the topic due to society's feelings toward marijuana in that period of time. This is why marijuana legalization will probably not occur anytime soon but has a good chance in a decade or two because of the generation serving in congress in the future. I think it is time for people who dont believe in the legalization of marijuana to come to their senses and look at reality and what marijuana can offer.
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