Marijuana was first used for medicinal purposes dating back as early as the 1600’s. However, a law was passed in 1930, which banned the substance. Since then we have been fighting a never-ending war on drugs that has estimated to be over a trillion dollar failure, and we have nothing to show for it. There are many different takes on legalizing marijuana nation-wide but some states are not convinced yet. There are two main views on legalizing cannabis. One is the government view, which believes if marijuana was taxed like alcohol and tobacco it could yield close to 50 billion in tax revenue annually. Along with this, legalizing the drug would save the U.S. about $41 billion a year in enforcing the drug laws, and using that for education and health. The other view would be the medicinal use side of it. Proponents of medical marijuana argue that it can be a safe and effective treatment for the symptoms of cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, pain, glaucoma, epilepsy, and other conditions.
The government should legalize marijuana for recreational and medical use because it will create tax revenue, help patients, and we will be done fighting an everlasting war. $42 billion dollars is what our current marijuana laws cost American taxpayers each year. If marijuana was legal, the money generated would be able to be used for other things like giving every one of our current teachers a 30 percent raise and use what’s left to take a $27 billion whack out of the federal deficit. Or use it towards community or environmental projects to help the natural resources we use every day. “Marijuana in the U.S. is a $113 billion dollar business” (Gettman). It costs the average prison $40,000 to house an inmate for a year. If you multiply the number of marijuana related prisoners times $40,000 a year that is over $29 billion a year spent on prisoners alone.
“Of the billions of dollars a year we spend to enforce, it has accomplished little or nothing beneficial in terms of economic benefits” (Shen). Despite all that, we now arrest one American every 38 seconds on marijuana charges. And we do so at a staggering cost in law enforcement expenses, lost tax revenues, and staggering profits for criminal gangs.The alternative is clear. Regulate marijuana just as we do beer, wine, and liquor. We will be able to save the government and law enforcement billions. In addition, the government would not only be saving from not having to enforce the laws, they will benefit greatly from tax revenue that can be created. Researchers assumed that legalized marijuana would be taxed similarly to alcohol and tobacco and that the income earned by pot producers would be subject to standard income and sales tax. “But we do know that legalization would lead to a positive revenue impact on the income and sales tax side” (Davis).
Right now we have 2 states that have both legalized medical and recreational use, Colorado and Washington. We will be able to study the tax revenue that is created from both and researchers will be able get better information on how much tax will actually be created. So far it has been nothing but a large money source. “Colorado’s legal marijuana market is far exceeding tax expectations, according to a budget proposal” (Solomon). The governor of Colorado predicted sales and taxes next fiscal year would produce some $98 million, well above a $70 million annual estimate given to voters when they approved the pot taxes last year. That is just in one state, imagine what would be created nation-wide. There are a variety of estimates, but when you put them all together you get a range of $10 billion to more than $120 billion a year. Either way that is money that the US didn’t have before. Legalizing marijuana will create a large tax revenue and in a bad economic time this will, without a doubt, help our economy out. Lastly, medical marijuana is still illegal in many states and that should change.
Although many slanderous claims have been made about cannabis in recent history, the truths are slowly starting to surface. Unfortunately, these truths are under heavy criticism due to the stereotypical view of what people view as the typical marijuana user. It has a skewed perception of a lazy and unmotivated America, which is the result of over seventy years of propaganda and misinformation spread by private interests who needed cannabis illegal for their own personal gains. “Using marijuana for medicinal purposes is not a recent discovery” (Berman). In fact, written references to use medical marijuana date back nearly 5,000 years. Marijuana can be used for a variety of disorders. These disorders include pain relief, nausea, glaucoma, and movement disorders. It is also used as a powerful appetite stimulant which helps patients that had HIV/AIDS or cancer patients going through chemotherapy. “Painkillers are highly addictive but handed out to patients everyday” (Astaiza).
Marijuana has proven to be non addictive and has caused no deaths to this date. Today, thousands of patients are able to use marijuana as an effective method of treatment for their ailments. This is possible because fourteen state governments across the country have acknowledged cannabis’ effective healing properties and legalized its consumption for medicinal purposes with the consent of a licensed physician. However, these patients are at the mercy of the federal government and its authority. Marijuana should be legal because it can give patients relief other prescriptions cannot. In summary, medical and recreational marijuana should be legalized nationwide. Police could stop wasting money and time trying to fight something they’ve been at for over 50 years now.
The government will be able to tax it similar to alcohol and tobacco, and we have already witnessed the tax take off in Colorado. Patients will be able to use it to treat many disorders instead of using highly addictive over-the-counter medications. In a down time for our economy we are struggling to fight back. The federal deficit and the revenue created from marijuana may not solve it completely,but it puts a large chunk of money in the government’s hands. Even though marijuana sometimes gets a bad name, it is an all natural plant that can create a lot of benefits.