Legalization of Marijuana in the State of New Jersey

2729 words (11 pages) Essay in Social Policy

05/08/19 Social Policy Reference this

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Executive Summary

This study explores the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey and the socio economic benefits, as well as medical benefits derived from marijuana.  Then the researchers carried out a review of the literature. The methodology used for this study was the survey and quantitative data was collected. A survey was conducted with a non- random sample of 20 undergraduate students. Results concluded that respondents were in favor of the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey. However, legalization may need to be accompanied by more education on the use of the drug. Future researchers exploring the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey should test a sample size that is representative of the current population in New Jersey.

Introduction

Marijuana has been a widely debated drug for the past few decades since Nixon’s war on drugs started. Prior to that, Marijuana was a regularly prescribed medication for colds, coughs, and mostly any ailment by doctors of the 19th and 20th century (Boyum, 2002). This drug has been criminalized for almost a century but there is an ongoing debate as to whether it should be legalized. In recent years, due to societal changes, the public’s perception of the drug has changed.  are now more willing to admit that the use of the drug may not be as damaging to the public health and wellbeing as it was once assumed. There is now a public debate on whether marijuana should be decriminalized or not (Bradford and Bradford, 2017). This occurs due to the consumers who believe that prohibition of a drug does not control its use and indeed only makes the situation worse and encourages reckless behaviors.

The objective of this study is to understand how students in New Jersey view the issue of the legalization of marijuana. The purpose of this study is to determine if a certain cohort in the population believe that marijuana should be legalized (Nadelmann, 1996). This will provide insight into views of the younger generation which is often neglected, and it will demonstrate how a future generation of voters will view the issue.

Literature Review

This section of the assignment will present the theories on the legalization of marijuana. It will present the main themes that emerged from scholarly studies on the subject. The findings from the review will be presented in a series of themes

Public Opinion and Cannabis

Marijuana has been a widely debated drug for the past few decades since Nixon’s war on drugs started. Prior to that, Marijuana was a regularly prescribed medication for colds, coughs, and mostly any ailment by doctors of the 19th and 20th century (Boyum, 2017). The was typically a great deal of opposition to the idea of legalizing it but public opinion has changed. Many views, it as a soft drug and believe that it should be de-criminalized. Today, public opinions show that most of the public are supportive of legalizing the drug especially young people according to a series of surveys taken by Hasin et al (2015).

The arguments for legalizing the drug

There has been several new studies that have shown that marijuana has definite health benefits. A systemic review meta-analysis study on cannabis for medical use. This study showed that cannabis can be used to treat symptoms. It can be used to control and manage pain. It is very effective as providing pain relief for those who are in serious pain. Cannabis can also be used to limit nausea, stimulate appetite and treat insomnia in a very effective way. Today, the psychotropic ingredients in cannabis can be extracted and in the form of CPD can be used in ways like over-the-counter medications. The medical community now accept, that once it is used in a reasonable way, that marijuana can be a legitimate medical treatment (Boyum, 2002).

One of the main reasons for the prohibition of the substance was that it led to criminal and anti-social behavior.  It has often been classed as a gate-way drug (Daryal, 2002). This is that its use introduces people to other harder drugs. This in turn leads to addiction to so-called harder drugs such as heroin and cocaine. There is also a belief that marijuana leads to more crime, but the truth is that studies have not shown this to be true. Most arrests in relation to the marijuana is for its possessions (Daryal, 2002). Indeed, there is some evidence that alcohol leads to more crime that cannabis. Moreover, the example of Portugal has shown that legalizing this drug could have real benefits and can even lead to a reduction in crime and addiction rates (Duke, 2010). Then the criminalization of the drug means that organized crime can benefit. Then when the drug is legalized it can reduce the use of other hard drugs such as heroin that are more dangerous (Pudney et al, 2010). This can lead to a reduction in the rate of deaths from drug use. Then if the drug was legalized it would ensure that there was ‘legalized responsibility’. For example, there will be a required age limit to buy the drug and it is used in a more responsible way.

Arguments against the drug

There is a medical argument against the use of the drugs and that is that it can be addictive. There are many users who become dependent on the drug and as not able to function without it.  Then cannabis can lead to people behaving in ways, under its influence that mean that they are likely to be in danger or put others in danger (Pudney et al, 2010). There is a great deal of evidence that this drug is the cause of many automobile accidents. There are reports that those who regularly use drugs more than once a month are likely to develop mental health issues (Pudney et al, 2010).  There are studies that have shown that those who smoke marijuana are more likely to have the symptoms of depression or even schizophrenia (Pudney et al, 2010). There is also an argument that it could damage the fabric of society because if the drug was legal it would lead to it being used more and this could lead to more social problems such as marriage breakdown etc. Then it is believed that those who smoke and have children may be harming them. Perhaps the greatest argument against the legalization of the drug is that it can be addictive, and users can become psychologically dependent on the drug (Braford and Bradford and Bradford, 2017).

Conclusion

There is a great deal of research about whether or not to de-criminalize cannabis. There are those which show that it has definite medical and social benefits. However, there are undoubtedly some drawbacks to the de-criminalization of the drug.

Method

The methodology is the series of actions taken to collect and analyze information for a research question. The methods used for this study are based on the research question. It is a quantitative study in that it measures the responses of people. The method involved creating a sample for the study. This is a group of people who can provide specific information on some research question. For this study a group of 20 students participated. They were asked to participate by the researchers. The data for the study was collected by a survey. This was made up of ten multiple choice questions that were related to the research question.  The researchers asked the students to select on answer that reflected their opinion on the legalization of marijuana. Then the information was collected by the students and quantified and turned into statistics. This was analyzed by relating it to the literature that was reviewed.

Data Analysis and Findings

Data Findings

The gender of the students who participated in the study was as follows 12 were male and 8 were females. All (100%) of the students were between 15-25.  Some 45% of those who participated in the survey were Caucasian, while 20% of Black and the rest 35% classed themselves as Hispanic. The vast majority of those who took part in the survey had tried the drug before (80%). There was an equal distribution of the use of the drug among all the racial and ethnic groups that took part in the survey.  However more males than females used the drug. The next question asked if they had answered “yes” to number four, how often do you use marijuana? Some 68% of those who did take the drug said that they did not do it often, while the rest stated that they did it often.  The vast majority of those who took part in the survey stated that they used it for recreational use or for pleasure (100%). None used it for medical use.  When asked the question should the drug be legalized some 90% of those who took part in the survey said it should be. 100% of those who had tried it were now in favor of legalizing the substance. While for those who had not tried it only 50%, (2) were in favor of its legalization.  Some 90% of those who took part in the research stated that they believed it would lead to a reduction in the crime rate. There was a correlation between drug use and giving a yes to this question. Regarding the question ‘do you, or someone you know, have a medical marijuana card? Some 40% said that they did.  To the final question Smoking marijuana around children has the same negative effects as smoking cigarettes around children, there was a general agreement that it did (100%).

Data Analysis

The data would show that the sampled used the drug on a semi-regular basis and all genders and ethnicities used cannabis. This is in line with the literature and it shows that despite the prohibition on the drug that it is relatively freely available and used and the laws on marijuana are not effective (Bradford and Bradford, 2017).  It is widely used for pleasure and recreation. This would indicate that there is no regulation of what is classed as a narcotic. Moreover many of them knew someone who was taking it for medical purposes and this is probably a factor in the widespread support of the legalizing of the drug. At least among the sample, the vast majority of those who took part in the sample did not believe that it was harmful but was beneficial.  The widespread use for recreation and medical purposes mean that young people in New Jersey are more aware of marijuana and unlike previous generations do not regard it as an essentially harmful drug. The vast majority of those surveyed were in favor of legalizing cannabis and there was overwhelming support for its decriminalizing. The sample believed that decriminalizing the drug was reduce crime (Bradford and Bradford, 2017). By criminalizing its use, it was contributing to the crime and it was also criminalizing recreational users. The legalizing of the drug would be positive with regard to  crime rates and this was also found in Hasin et al (2015). However, the sample believed that marijuana was somewhat dangerous, and it should not be used around children (Hasin et al, 2015). The study showed that the sample supported the decriminalizing of marijuana and that it would not lead to any social problems. However, the also believed that it had to be used in a responsible way.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The study found that there is a great deal of support for the idea of legalizing marijuana. There is now growing public support for the idea of legalizing cannabis for personal use.  This was reflected in the findings all the students irrespective of their age and their background are now willing to countenance the idea of legalizing the drug (Duke, 2010). This is in line with the latest research on the matter. As a result, we can assume that at some stage, as America is a democracy that the change in public opinion will result in changes in the law (Duke, 2010). It seems likely that cannabis will be legalized as attitudes to the drugs and the ways that it is used changed. However, this could bring problems as the widespread availability of cannabis could lead to issues such as addiction. Based on the research the following recommendations were made

  • That cannabis should be legalized as it is widely used for recreation and medical treatments.
  • The drug should be tightly regulated so that only those who can use it in a responsible way can acquire the drugs. For example, giving the drug to those under 21 should be outlawed in New Jersey.
  • Then when the drug is legalized there needs to be education about its safe use. This is essential for public health and wellbeing in New Jersey

Limitations

The limitations for the current study are that the size of the sample size of twenty undergraduate students is too small. The sample size chosen was possibly not representative of the current population. Limitations for the current study also occur due to time restraints for the study. Quantitative research methods were used to collect data, therefore using mixed methods of quantitative and qualitative may produce more substantial findings for the current study.

References

  • Boyum, D. (2002). Prohibition and Legalization: Beyond the False Dichotomy. Social Research, 68(3), pp 865-868.  Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40971918
  • Bradford and Bradford, A. C., & David Bradford and Bradford, W. (2017). Factors driving the diffusion of medical marijuana legalization in the United States. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 24(1), 75-84.
  • Nadelmann, E. (1996). Drug Legalization: It’s Not All or Nothing. The Brookings Review, 14(3), pp 47-48 Retrieved from doi:10.2307/20080667
  • Hasin, D. S., Wall, M., Keyes, K. M., Cerdá, M, O’Malley, P. M, and Feng, T. (2015). Medical marijuana laws and adolescent marijuana use in the USA from 1991 to 2014: results from annual, repeated cross-sectional surveys. The Lancet Psychiatry, 2(7), 601-608.
  • Duke, S. (2010). Cannabis Captiva: Freeing the World from Marijuana Prohibition. Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, 11(2), pp 83-90. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/43133846.
  • Daryal, M. (2002). Prices, legalization and marijuana consumption. University Avenue Undergraduate Journal of Economics, 6(1), 3.
  • Pudney, S., Adda, J., & Boone, J. (2010). Drugs policy: What should we do about cannabis? Economic Policy, 25(61), pp 165-211.

Appendixes

Please take a few minutes to complete this ten-question survey on the legalization of marijuana. This should take about 3-4 minutes to complete, and all answers will remain confidential. The results of this survey will only be used to collect data for and undergraduate research paper. We appreciate your time and participation.

  • What is your gender?
    • Male
    • Female
  • How old are you? Please check off the box that applies to you:
    • 15-25
    • 26-36
    • 37-47
    • 48-58
    • 50+
  • Race/Ethnicity
    • Caucasian
    • Black
    • Hispanic
    • Native American
    • Asian/ pacific islander
    • Other
  • Have you used marijuana before?
    • Yes
    • No
  • If you answered “yes” to number four, how often do you use marijuana?
    • Daily
    • A few times a week
    • Not that often
  • Have you ever used marijuana for any of the purposes listed below: Please check all that apply?
    • Recreational use
    • Medical use
    • Pleasure
  • In your opinion, should marijuana be legalized for medical use?
    • Yes
    • No
  • In your opinion, will the legalization of marijuana decrease drug related crimes?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Do you, or someone you know, have a medical marijuana card?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Smoking marijuana around children has the same negative effects as smoking cigarettes around children:
    • Agree
    • Disagree

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