Regulating and taxing marijuana would simultaneously save taxpayers billions of dollars in enforcement and incarceration costs, while providing many billions of dollars in revenue annually.
Legalization of Marijuana
Marijuana should be legalized. People have been smoking marijuana for centuries. Marijuana has its many uses; religion, medicine, recreation, etc. Over 65 million Americans use marijuana either occasionally or regularly (Marijuana 3). There are many supported thoughts about marijuana being legalized. Although marijuana is an illegal drug, one must ask them self--is it any more harmful than the use of tobacco, cigarettes, or alcohol? Legalizing marijuana would benefit the United States because the government would be able to put a huge taxation on marijuana, the medical benefits would help several people, the inability to prohibit someone from using marijuana for religious purposes, people who use marijuana are less of a liability than alcohol consumers and also with the government having control over the use of marijuana they could lower the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the drug. Arguments opposing the legalization of marijuana are that legalized marijuana is the gateway drug to wanting a more effective drug and therefore, more drug addiction.
The legalization of marijuana would give the government the ability to put a tax on marijuana. Once marijuana is legal it will be in higher demand therefore more people will be consuming the drug. When there is more people consuming the drug more money will be going towards the government. Whether marijuana becomes legalized or not, it will still be consumed by many users. Legalizing it would just add the benefit to the government to be able to get money from the taxation of marijuana. People are being incarcerated, persecuted, and prosecuted for having marijuana and all of the taxpayers are paying billions of dollars to do this (MLJ, 2009). Current convictions of sale and possession of marijuana can be up to one year in prison and a 5,000 dollar fine with just one simple possession charge and most of the charges are dependent on the judge. Nearly 800,000 users get arrested each year for possessions. There are 10 million people in the last 30 years that have been arrested for possession charges. In this 10 million some of them are serving up to thirty years for a simple possession charge (Marijuana 3, 4). This information shows that there are many people serving time for a marijuana charge and our prisons are overcrowded. Doesn’t it make more sense to legalize marijuana and put our “real” criminals in prison? They are the “real” threat to our society and country (Marijuana 3, 4). Mike Moffit wrote an article on the study of the revenue on marijuana. It has been estimated that 0.5 grams, which amounts to a unit of marijuana, would be sold on the street for $8.60 when the cost of production for the unit was only $1.70 (Moffit, 2009). This shows that dealers are selling marijuana well more than what it took to produce. If the government were to sell it for more than it took to produce that would make a huge profit towards the debt of the United States.
Legalizing marijuana has medical benefits as well as government benefits. In medical history no one has been recorded for overdosing on marijuana. Medically marijuana helps with cancer patients. The pain of chemotherapy can be helped with this substance. Marijuana has also been a major benefit for victims of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and AIDS. Marijuana is a powerful appetite stimulant, specifically for patients suffering from HIV, the AIDS wasting syndrome, or dementia. Emerging research suggests that marijuana’s medicinal properties may protect the body against some types of malignant tumors and are neuro-protective. Even the DEA’s own judge has stated, “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man (Not Guilty 4). Dr. Lester Grinspoon once said, "You and I are among the more than 70 million Americans who have used cannabis -- and possibly among the more than ten million who use it regularly. We know that people smoke marijuana not because they are driven by uncontrollable "Reefer Madness" craving, as some propaganda would lead us to believe, but because they have learned its value from experience. Yet almost all of the research, writing, political activity, and legislation devoted to marijuana has been concerned only with the question of whether it is harmful and how much harm it does" (Marijuana Uses, 2009). As of right now fourteen states have medical marijuana legalized and several states including Hawaii and Washington are loosening their possession charges.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says the government cannot make laws "prohibiting the free exercise" of religion. Many people use marijuana as a religious substance, and forbidding them from the use of marijuana clearly prohibits the free exercise of their religion. In order to comply with the First Amendment, our laws should allow for the religious use of marijuana (MJL 2009). Rastafarians use marijuana in religious rituals to enhance their consciousness of the relationship between God, Creation, and the individual soul. The Shinto also use marijuana into their rituals. Therefore, with the First Amendment in place there is no one that can tell someone they cannot practice their religion. This is another main reason why legalizing marijuana would benefit the government because many people will prevent many hardships against them for taking away these rights.
People opposing the legalization of marijuana would say that it is a gateway drug to the use of LSD and heroine. The opposing would say that it will cause more controversy with other substances. However, those drugs are always going to be there. Marijuana has many more benefits than detriments. A study has recently shown the percentage of people for, against, or undecided on the legalization of marijuana. The results are the 34% people are for, 62% of people are against, and 4% are undecided (Legalizing Marijuana 2009). Many people opposing are uneducated of all the benefits to legalizing marijuana.
Many deaths have been reported for legal substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, and many over-the-counter medicines and prescriptions. People everyday overdose on over-the-counter medicines and prescriptions from being addicted to the effects and feeling therefore they use them as drugs. Cigarettes on the other hand have several effects on one’s body. The effects from cigarettes result in many cancers. Alcohol is a deadlier threat than marijuana. Alcohol poisoning is getting more common with teens. Being under the influence of alcohol can make someone more unstable. This causes the inability to walk or even stand. Alcohol consumers make irrational decisions. Many people under the influence do not have perception of right or wrong. In a recent study conducted involving 41,821 people, the number of people killed in an accident was 16,653, the number of people killed in a drug or alcohol related accident was 25,168, and the number of people killed in an accident involving marijuana was zero (Legalizing Marijuana 2009). Alcohol has excelled from being a substance for relaxation to the use of getting "wasted". Marijuana relaxes the muscles in one's body. Alcohol and tobacco are far more addictive and harmful than marijuana, but they are legally available. If we want to have drug policies that are logical and effective, we need to legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to the regulation of alcohol and tobacco (MJL 2009)
A final factor of legalizing marijuana is giving the government control over the substance. Scientists would be able to take out as much of the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as needed so that the high from marijuana is weakened. As with any other drug there will be the ability to control the consumption of marijuana. Restrictions on how much could be purchased within a specific amount of time could be made by the government. Having control over this substance would be a definite benefit. When marijuana is legalized the government will put the age limit to either nineteen or twenty-one. Whether either of these are the age limit to being able to possess marijuana there will be a limit on how much you can buy in one day and how much is put into the substance.
After carefully considering the evidence for benefits of the legalizing marijuana, people will agree that marijuana should be legalized. Legalizing marijuana will benefit the country and government, provide medical benefits, the religious use for many religions and the government can control the substance. The time has come for marijuana to be legalized and taxed. Marijuana should be legalized. This is the time to legalize the use of marijuana for medical, recreational and religious use. The benefits are now outweighing the negatives. Whether someone has used marijuana or not they are most likely going to use Heroin, LSD or any other serious drug if they decide to or not. Over 65 million Americans use marijuana either occasionally or regularly (Marijuana 3).
Ford, David R. Marijuana; Not Guilty As Charged. Print.