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Legalization Of Marijaua Essay, Research Paper

The legalization of marijuana would be a great benefit to almost everyone. Basically it’s our right of privacy to be able to smoke in our own homes. Its pretty much a failure of prohibition, and there are numerous benefits that would come into effect. An argument against legalizing it is that it’s a threat to society. In recent years, Americans have referred to privacy as one of the basic human rights, something to be claimed by anyone, anywhere. United States citizens feel strongly about this and often tell other countries that they must honor their people’s claims to privacy and personal freedom. Foreign leaders often disagree. They resent what they deem arrogant meddling by the United States. Leaders of the Soviet Union, for example, regard individual privacy as trivial when compared to the needs of the state. If the United States is to be persuasive in promoting freedom in other parts of the world, it must respect the privacy of its own citizens. Sometimes it is hard to do this because what goes on in people’s private lives may seem offensive. But, according to U.S. traditions, there is a strong case to be made against legislating the private behavior of adults, so long as that behavior does not in turn violate the rights of others. Some people feel that this reasoning should hold also for marijuana. A person who smokes at home is not doing injury. The marijuana user is indulging in a minor pleasure over which that government should have no jurisdiction. It is quite clear from survey data that most people do not become physically dependent on marijuana. The majority uses it as others use alcohol – to relax occasionally and to indulge a festive mood. How can a mild intoxicant, taken less than once a day by most users, be seen as a public threat? The law should not penalize even those who are “hooked”, or psychologically dependent upon their habit. Some people find any compulsive and unproductive behavior disgusting. But that is not a reason for outlawing it. Consider eating, many people develop compulsive habits about food. They talk about it frequently. They spend many of their waking hours anticipating, planning, obtaining, and consuming food. This may be unattractive. It certainly is not productive and it can be harmful it the “food addict” is overweight. But there are no laws to prevent food addiction. If Congress tried to forbid the eating of ice cream sundaes or cotton candy, many people would be outraged, others would simply laugh. Some people with respect to marijuana raise the same sort of argument. Even compulsive marijuana smoking by an adult is not so offensive that it injures neighbors or requires government intervention. The attempt to use the law to tell people what they may and may not consume at home is an arrogant invasion of personal privacy. Protecting the Drug User’s physical health, sometimes it is said that the law must protect the drug user from himself. The argument takes two forms. One has to do with the damage a drug may do to a person’s health and the other with the individual’s power of self-control or freedom. First consider the health effects. By any reasonable standard, marijuana is a mild drug and as for overdosing, there is no scientifically valid evidence of anyone dying of an overdose of marijuana smoke. Of course, it is possible to commit suicide by consuming large amounts of marijuana. But it is possible to die by eating too much salt. Salt is not illegal. Aspirin kills by overdose and that’s legal. Many people die by drinking too much alcohol, an addictive drug. It too is legal. Why is marijuana considered more dangerous? One argument made against the legalization of marijuana is that it damages not only the user but also innocent bystanders. This argument, like the one about protecting the user, has two party’s. The first deals with physical injury and the second with spiritual health. The main physical threat to society is that users under the influence of a drug will crash a car or airplane, or lose control in some way and do harm. People who have recently smoked marijuana do show signs of clumsiness and disorientation. They should not operate machinery in this condition. One study estimates that alcohol plays a part in 55% of all fatal highway crashes. Marijuana may present similar risks, but at present there are no reliable data on its importance in accidents. According to John Stuart Mill’s writings, the government should try to control only the aspects of drug use that injure society. In this vein, it makes sense to have laws against driving under the influence of marijuana similar to those governing driving under the influence of alcohol. In other words, driving while on marijuana should be outlawed but not the use of marijuana itself. Some people believe that marijuana threatens society in a more insidious way. They argue that it drains workers’ energy and makes them less productive. This in turn lowers the vitality of the economy, depressing the overall quality of life. In addition, drug use- including marijuana smoking- is seen as a plague on society that must be isolated. This disease theory holds that legalizing marijuana would make it more widely available and that this would tend to increase its use as well as the use of all kinds of drugs. One of the detriments of tolerating drug use, according to this theory, is that is encourages the use of more and different drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuses 1984 report to Congress cited no evidence to support the idea that drug use is hurting economic productivity. It said: “The fact is, very little is known about the complex relationship which undoubtedly exists between drug abuse, worker performance, and productivity, or the lack thereof . Simply put, the number of unanswered questions currently far outnumbers the available answers.” Nor is there any strong evidence that legalizing marijuana would increase use of the drug. In fact, there is some evidence suggesting that drug use under a relaxed legal system might not increase at all. Many states have removed the penalties for marijuana possession that were on the books in the 1950s and 1960s. The chance occurred during a reform movement that swept that nation in the mid 1970’s. Yet in spite of the less stringent laws, studies show that the use of marijuana in the affected states has, after an initial increase, declined. Although marijuana became easier to use (from a legal standpoint), it also became less popular.

Examining the U.S. policy on marijuana on the basis of performance, one must judge it a miserable failure. The number of people who have smoked the drug at least once has grown from an uncounted few in the 1950s, when some of the strictest anti marijuana laws were imposed, to nearly 50 million today. During this period the federal government has made steadily increasing efforts to stop its production and importation, and seizures of marijuana in the ports has grown steadily. Elaborate and costly international police campaigns have been launched, and the number of drug arrests in the United States has increased. The federal budget for drug enforcement reflected in several agencies has gone above $1 billion a year. And yet the illegal trade in marijuana continues. Supplies are so plentiful that the price has actually come down. The response has been to redouble police efforts and hope that things will change. The result is that more money is spent on a failed policy, creating an ever-growing army of drug enforcers dedicated to keeping the policy alive. The illegal market for marijuana grows even faster than the police force, however, because the drug users are willing to pay more to get what they want than taxpayers are willing to pay to stop it. The drug police enjoy their work and are not going to quit. And why should they as long as their salaries are paid? The admission that the marijuana laws have failed will have to come from someone else- not from the police. Marijuana is a common weed, easier to produce than the bathtub gin of the Prohibition years. It is not surprising that thousands of “dealers” have been drawn into the marijuana business. Despite the great risks they face, including bullying by other dealers and the threat of arrest, they are attracted by the profits. The law cannot change the economics of this market because it operates outside the law. All the police can do is to make it risky to get into the marijuana business. This is supposed to drive out the less courageous dealers, reduce the amount of marijuana available, and inflate prices. But even by this measure, the police effort has failed. As mentioned earlier, the price of marijuana is declining. There are several ways in which the policy on marijuana imposed a burden on society. The obvious one is the cost of supporting the federal enforcement effort. Aside from this, there is a hard-to-measure but significant impact on society because the law creates a huge criminal class. It includes not just dealers who are out fro profit but a much larger group of users. Consider three major penalties for having such a large criminal class. By lifting the ban of marijuana use and treating it like other drugs such as tobacco and alcohol, the nation would grain immediate and long-term benefits. This change in the law would greatly improve the quality of life for many people. Victims of glaucoma and those needing anti nausea treatment, for example, would find marijuana easily available. If the medical advantages that are claimed for marijuana are real, many more patients would benefit. Research, which has been slowed in the past by the government’s reluctance to front exemptions to the marijuana laws, would be easier to conduct. The cloud of suspicion would disappear, and doctors could get on with investigating marijuana’s medical uses with out fear of controversy. It might become possible to discuss the dangers or marijuana use without getting caught up in a policy debate. Meanwhile, the black market would disappear overnight. Some arrangement would be made to license the production of marijuana cigarettes. Thousands of dealers would be put out of business, and a secret part of the economy would come into the open. It is difficult to say whether this change would reduce crime because criminals would probably continue to sell other drugs. But it would have and impact on the amount of money flowing through criminal channels, and this might weaken organized crime. Lastly, the federal budget would benefit in two ways, Federal revenues would increase because marijuana cigarettes would be taxed at the point of sale. The companies that make the cigarettes would also pay income taxes, adding to the federal coffers. Second, there would be a reduction in the amount spent on law enforcement efforts to apprehend and prosecute users and seller of marijuana. The drug enforcement authorities might reduce their budget requests, or, more likely, focus more intensely on hard drugs and violent crimes. The courts would be relieved of hearing some drug cases, as well. The most important gain would be in the quality of government. The sorts of temptations and opportunities that lead to corruption would be significantly minimized. The illogical pattern of law enforcement, which now treats marijuana as more dangerous than alcohol, would end. It would set more achievable goals for law enforcement, and this would lend strength and credibility to the government.


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