Compared with harder drugs as cocaine and heroin, marijuana, also named as cannabis or hemp, is considered as a soft drug with less addiction and harm. In the 19th century, it was one of the most important crops in the American continent to the common wealth (Newton, 2013, p. 32), but it has been banned to grow in most countries since the 20th century (Newton, 2013, p. 45).
Given the clamour for “decriminalization” of the personal possession of small amounts of marijuana is growing (Single, 2013, p. 56) and the problem of pushing drugs is exacerbated in sight, the proposal of legalizing this illicit drug has been disputed among the governments. This essay tries to weigh up the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana from the perspective of the economic interest and the decrease in crime rate as well as the facet of menace to human’s health and the impediment to the youth’s development, so that a rational and justifiable evaluation can be finally carried out. Legalizing marijuana is beneficial to the increase of government revenue and the reduction of its expenditure.
Motivated by the huge profits, adventurers have smuggled marijuana through customs. As a result, customs tax, as an important contributor to the national revenue, has been evaded by them. Supposing that the marijuana is legalized, enterprises should pay tax in accordance with the law, which will undoubtedly bring the additional interests to the government. Take the Netherlands as an example, the proportion of marijuana and its related products or services contributing to the GDP reached 2% in 2007(Babor et al. 2010,p. 213).
In addition, legalizing marijuana can reduce the public expenditure from the government, for instance, financial costs on law enforcement, prison management and public security. Thus, the extra income and the reduced costs can be devoted to the education, public health and sanitation. Moreover, legalizing marijuana will be conductive to decreasing the rate of drug-related crimes. Possession, production and sale are indicted on drug charges in most of the countries nowadays.
Even in America, the drug policies are various and not all the states have legalized the circulation of marijuana (Inciardi& McElrath, 2001,p. 231). Nevertheless, according to the quantity and purpose of these activities, most of the state governments have convinced that it is reasonable to adjudicate them differently (Ibid). If personal use of marijuana is legalized due to its harmlessness to the public, users may prefer to legally obtain marijuana from the authorized shops and enterprises instead of committing crimes for obtaining drugs.
With the guidance from the government, the social and individual security will be guaranteed and the crime rate can be correspondently lowered. However, from another perspective, legalizing marijuana is unfavorable and unacceptable. Studies have proved that there is intimate relationship between the occurrence of some diseases and the use of marijuana. Tashkin (2005,p. 93) has pointed out that Marijuana use is associated with the respiratory and mental illness and is harmful to the cognitive and immune system. Additionally, using marijuana increases the risk of lung cancer (Hashibe et al. 2006, p. 1830).
Researches have manifested that the number of marijuana smokers suffering from the tortures of cough and sputum is larger than those of non-smokers for the reason that marijuana users usually smoke the mixture of marijuana and some hard drugs harmful to people’s lungs. It has been estimated that the consumption of marijuana will increase about 4 percent (Sabet, 2013, p. 1156) as the legalization of it. In that case, there will be more people stricken by the lung diseases. Indeed, notwithstanding the medical application of some drugs, marijuana is not the same case.
Susan Bro, an agency spokeswoman, has said to The New York Times(Harris, 2006)that “smoked marijuana has no currently accepted or proven medical use in the United States and is not an approved medical treatment. ” Before legalizing marijuana, medical researchers and doctors are calling for more rigorous data support and studies in this field (Joffe & Yancy, 2004,p. 636). As to the sound development of the youth, legalizing marijuana my bring side influence to them. Adolescence is the transition period when the youth are not mature enough and are easily misled.
As marijuana is sold around the streets, they may be seduced to taste it at first and then become addicted to it. A major new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has provided objective evidence that teenagers who “used marijuana heavily and continued through adulthood cause a significant drop in IQ between the ages of 13 and 38”( Volkow, 2012). When truly hooked, they will go to any lengths to satisfy their craving for the drug, and gradually slide into the criminal abyss. In that sense, the youth as the future and hope of a society, legalizing marijuana is not in the least favorable to them.
From what has been discussed above, legalizing marijuana is indeed double-edged. On the one hand, it will bring economic return to the government and is contributive to the standardization of drug markets and the decrease of the crime rate. On the other hand, using marijuana poses menace to people’s health and is detrimental to the adolescents. Therefore, what should be recognized is that it is by no means a panacea to any social problems or an unmitigated disaster to the human being. To an extent, the consequences depend on the details of the new legal regime and on the other uncontrollable factors.