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Should Marajuana Be Legal Essay, Research Paper
There is no denying that the drug problem in our country today has reached epidemic proportions. The problem has gotten so out of hand that many options are being considered to control and/or solve it. Ending the drug war may not seem to be the best answer at first, but the so-called “war on drugs” has actually accomplished very little. Different options need to be considered. Legalization is an option that hasn’t gotten much of a chance, but should be given one. It is my position that marijuana should be legalized. Although many people feel that the legalization of marijuana would result in an increase in the amount of crime and drug abuse, I contend that the opposite is true. While I admit that there might be an initial increase in use, I feel that it would gradually wane, and that the crime rate would be reduced immediately. Furthermore, legalization would reduce the enormous amount of money spent on enforcement while at the same time increasing our country’s revenue.
In 1996 voters in both California and Arizona approved ballot measures exempting physicians and patients from criminal prosecution when marijuana is prescribed for medical purposes in the relief of pain or other symptoms caused by cancer, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), glaucoma, arthritis, and other illnesses and chronic conditions. The Massachusetts and Ohio legislatures enacted similar medical necessity laws in 1996. However, the U.S. government, which opposes such exemptions to anti-marijuana laws, warned physicians in these states that they may lose federally sanctioned privileges for writing prescriptions for controlled substances, be barred from participation in federal Medicare and Medicaid programs, and face federal criminal prosecution for prescribing marijuana (1).
The legalization of marijuana would be a boom to the economy. During prohibition, alcohol was still sold and used, but people were doing it illegally. The 21st amendment repealed prohibition, and alcohol taxes were increased. The same thing should happen with pot. Marijuana could be heavily taxed to increase our country?s revenue. Moreover, major companies operating under strict government regulations would legally produce marijuana, resulting in a higher quality product free of poisons and other adulterants (2).
Making marijuana legal would greatly reduce the vast amount of money spent on drug law enforcement every year. Drug dealers and users seem to constantly be one step ahead of the authorities, anyway. If one drug lord is caught, for instance, another one turns up somewhere else to take his place. We cannot win. For example:
“In 1990, well over 10 billion dollars was spent on drug enforcement alone. Drugs accounted for more than 40 percent of all felony indictments in our nation?s courts in 1992. This figure is quadruple what it was in 1985. Forty percent of the people in federal prison are drug law violators” (2).
One can only imagine what this figure would be like today. Too much money is wasted on a cause that there seems to be no end to.
“In 1989, a Republican county executive of Mercer County, NJ estimated that it would cost as much as one billion dollars to build the jail space needed to house all of the drug offenders in Trenton alone” (2).
All of this money could certainly be used on better things. By lifting the ban on marijuana and treating it like other drugs such as tobacco and alcohol, the nation would gain both immediate and long-term benefits. This change in the law would greatly improve the quality of life for many people in need of the herb?s medicinal properties (3). Victims of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief, for example, would find quality marijuana readily available. Also, the cloud of suspicion over marijuana would disappear, and doctors could get on with legitimate investigating of the plant’s medical uses without fear of controversy (4).
Meanwhile, the black market would disappear overnight. Some arrangement would be made to license the production of marijuana cigarettes. The untold multitudes of dealers would be put out of business, and a major source of financial loss to the economy would become one of financial gain. It is difficult to say what effect this change alone would have on crime, however, since criminals would probably continue to sell other drugs. But it would definitely have an impact on the amount of money flowing through criminal channels, and this might weaken organized crime (5).
The legalization of marijuana would benefit the federal budget in two ways. The state revenues would increase, because marijuana cigarettes would be taxed at the point of sale. In return, the companies that make the cigarettes would pay federal income taxes. Second, there would be a huge reduction in the amount of money spent on law enforcement efforts to apprehend and prosecute users and sellers of marijuana. The drug enforcement agencies could reduce their budget requests or, better yet, focus more intensely on hard drugs and violent crimes. The courts would be relieved of hearing all marijuana-related cases, as well. Another 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 or tobacco, would end. It would set more achievable goals for law enforcement, and this would lend strength and credibility to our government (5).
In conclusion, I can find no legitimate reason for keeping marijuana illegal. The reasons for legalizing the drug, however, are many. Legalization would bring both government control and increased tax revenue. Furthermore, marijuana is less harmful and less addictive than are other already legal drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco. We need to face the fact that the war on drugs is a war the United States is still loosing. The current policies that keep marijuana illegal must be changed so that the crime element is eliminated, resulting in a safer and better society for us all.
Encarta 98. Microsoft Corporation, 1997. CD-ROM.
(2) Nadelmann, Ethan A., American Heritage Magazine,
(3) Medical Marijuana, http://www.lec.org/Drug_Watch/
(4) Secretary of State, California. Home Page (www.ssa.gov) Prop 215 text:
(5) Brown, Christopher. “Bring Drugs Within the Law.” The Economist,
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