While most people recognize only the negative and harm that goes with marijuana use in society, there are several positive effects that are being ignored. In an essay written by Carl Sagan (1969), an advocator for legalizing marijuana, he states, “ The illegality of cannabis (marijuana) is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.” Too many persons, marijuana users and even those who don't use the drug share similar sentiments. States like California have begun the quest for legalizing marijuana after many debates.
Marijuana or cannabis as it is commonly called is a green or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. It is smoked by rolling it in tobacco paper or putting it into a pipe. This drug is consumed by a great number of people around the world. There are over two hundred slang terms for marijuana including pot, herb, weed, boom, Mary Jane, ganger and chronic. The drug has always been considered an illicit drug ever since Harry Anslinger made false remarks at a hearing in 1937. However, many people cultivate it on a small or large scale for sale to the public and people in turn purchase it for use as a form of recreation and even medical reasons. Although from all accounts, many persons consider marijuana to be the least harmful drug among others, including alcohol and cigarettes, it is forbidden by law in many countries and parts of the United States of America. Some commonly committed drug crimes include possession of the drug, possession with the intent to sell, cultivation of the drug; drug trafficking, manufacture and distribution.
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Supporters of the criminalization of marijuana in the United States consider the use of the drug a felony and the laws governing marijuana are as rigid as those regulating cocaine or heroin. Users of the drug and even non-users request that laws be modified to alleviate the penalties related to its conviction when one is charged, or to have the drug legalized. It is proven that among all the crimes related to drug use, there are fewer crimes related to that of marijuana use. The Office of National Drug Committee in its report on the number of persons in jail for drug related crimes states that marijuana accounts for just 13 percent of all drug state offenders. From a broader prospective of the entire prison population, it was noted that marijuana was involved in the conviction of 2.7 percent of all state inmates. About 1.6 percent of the state prison population was held for offenses involving just marijuana while just 0.7 percent was incarcerated with marijuana possession as the only charge and 0.3 percent was first time offenders.
It is claimed by the supporters of the legality of marijuana, that the drug stimulates crime in society. Yet, they ignore the simple fact that it is because of the strict but deteriorating law enforcements imposed on the use of the drug that encourages these simple crimes. An expert supports this in the following words,
If marijuana users are no longer jailed for possession of the drug, lots of room will be opened up in our already overcrowded prison systems for more hardened offenders such as: murderers, rapists, child molesters and other violent criminals. The judicial system will no longer be burdened by having to trial cases involving marijuana. As a result, the police will be able to allocate more resources to solving more violent crimes. Since marijuana could therefore be purchased at any drug store after being legalized, violent crimes such as: robbery, drug warfare, contamination of drugs by other substances such as LSD, PCP and cocaine could quickly become a thing of the past (Saldevar, J., 2006).
It is stunning to note the number of persons admitted in hospital emergency rooms due to the use of alcohol and cigarette (tobacco) use - legal drugs. The following are statistics on alcohol vs. marijuana use. Records show that 100 thousand deaths annually are directly linked to acute alcohol poisoning while in 4,000 years of recorded history no one has died from marijuana overdose. It is also stated that alcohol causes physical and psychological dependences as well as temporary and permanent damages to all major organs of the body. Marijuana therefore, is a much less violent provoking substance than alcohol. It can be confirmed by hospital authorities that there are few or no marijuana related illness in their emergency rooms, while billions of dollars are spent on other illnesses, and this is worldwide. Therefore, it should not be maintained that this drug be considered a public threat.
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Marijuana legality will instigate cultivation and sale on small or large scale farms. The high demand for this drug will be met with governments gaining from taxes and licenses from the farmers. There will be no more drug-trafficking or smuggling of marijuana but instead shipping companies to profit from such activities. This multi-billion dollar industry will by no means fail the economy, once it is regulated. Currently, the governments are at a loss simply because it is already a growing industry that they are not gaining from. The revenues that will be derived from taxes can bring much needed relief from debts of the economy. Other segments of the country including education, health, and security among others, will have better programs as a result of sufficient or perhaps overflowing funds disbursed throughout the country.
Employment will no longer be an issue once this new drug industry has been controlled. With such major investments waiting and the creation of employment certain, drug dealers or cultivators can now be equated to sales men or businessmen. Standard of living in the country or the world by extension will surely be thriving. Opponents of the legalization of marijuana should not deprive any county from such economic gain.
While critics claim that marijuana should not be decriminalized, advocates maintain strongly that if the drug is regulated and taxed like other goods such as alcohol and tobacco, it will now become a product with major economic and medical benefits. Companies involved in the manufacture and packaging of the drug will adhere to all government and federal standards. This will include appropriate labels such as ingredients listings and disclaimers placed on packages so as to advice and warn users of its contents. These should be clearly and strategically placed on each package with supervised dosages recommended by federal and medical advisors. In that way there may be no case of misuse and the drug will be kept out of the reach of minors. When such health standards are put in place, the onus will be on the companies involved to adhere to regulations of the state.
Legal drugs like alcohol and cigarettes can be out of reach for minors because they are sold in stores who need licenses. These stores have an incentive to sell only to adults in order to keep their license. There should be similar incentives for marijuana dealers. To protect our children we must give these marijuana dealers an invitation not to sell to them illegally. This cannot be done in a system of marijuana prohibition because we cannot take a license away if we did not give it out.
To alleviate the many social and economic issues that stem from marijuana use, it is crucial that the drug be regulated and controlled. A freelance writer shares the same sentiments in an article by saying “If we take marijuana off the streets and regulate it, we will diminish organized crime problems” (Marshall, 2005). Advocators will agree that the negative effects caused by marijuana use are only increasing because of the laws against it. Such a controversial issue can be dealt with so easily with much to gain from. It is high time that young men on the streets became professional business men in the thriving industry that they are all passionate of, yet suppressed by law enforcements. It is the economy's current state that has given people incentives to seek financial relief and recreation in marijuana use. It is now the economy's turn to attain much more. The rewards from legalizing marijuana are unlimited. The end of all poverty and government debt lies in the hands of those who keep this harmless drug prohibited.
Fox S., Armento P., & Tvert M. (2009) Marijuana is safe: So why are we driving people to drink? White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green.
Katel P. (2009, June 12). Legalizing Marijuana. CQ Researcher, 19, 525-548. Retrieved February 01, 2010, from CQ Researcher Online http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/
Klein J. (2009, April 02). Why legalizing marijuana makes sense. Time. Retrieved February 05, 2010, from http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1889021,00.html
Kubby S. (2003). Why marijuana should be legal. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press.
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Marshall P. (2005, February 11). Marijuana Laws. CQ Researcher, 15, 125-148. Retrieved February 01, 2010, from CQ Researcher Online http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/
Moffat M. (n.d.). Should governments legalize and tax marijuana? About.com: Economics. Retrieved February 05, 2010, from http://economics.about.com/od/incometaxestaxcuts/a/marijuana.htm
Sagan, C. (1969). Mr. X. In Marihuana reconsidered. (pp. 109-116). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Saldevar, J. (2006, August 16). Marijuana: The simple logical benefits of legalization. Associated Content. Retrieved February 15, 2010, from http://www.assciatedcontent.com