Marijuana is a very prominent and controversial issue in society today. Although many slanderous claims have been made about cannabis in recent history, the truths are slowly starting to resurface. Unfortunately, these truths are under heavy criticism due to the stereotypical view of what people view as the typical “pot smoker.” This skewed perception of a lazy and unmotivated American is the result of over seventy years of propaganda and misinformation spread by private interests who relied on illegal cannabis illegal from their own personal gains.
As a marijuana consumer and a current medical marijuana patient, I strongly believe that marijuana should be legalized for all users. Currently in the United States today, marijuana is prohibited by federal law and has been a topic of controversial debate since the start of the prohibition. There are several, important reasons for the legalization of marijuana, including research concerning these issues are beneficial in understanding both sides of the debate. The result of abolishing our country’s marijuana prohibition by supporting legalization will stimulate the economy, to show the medical properties, and lower the crime rate.
The legalization of marijuana has both positive and negative outcomes; although, the benefits of legalization outweigh the risks of the negative impacts. Marijuana is a natural plant with psycho-active properties that is commonly used by Americans as a recreational drug. Additionally, marijuana has been used for medical purpose for thousands of years. Records show that “A native of central Asia, cannabis may have been cultivated as much as ten thousand years go. It was certainly cultivated in China by 4000 B.C. and Turkestan by 3000 B.C.” (Grinspoon 3). Furthermore, from 1900 to 1940, marijuana, including opium and cocaine were considered part of everyday drugs. As time went on, the U.S. cracked down on crack and opium, eventually outlawing them, nut continued to be very “loose” with the use of marijuana. Eventually, as time continued to roll on, the use of marijuana became “frowned upon.”For instance, marijuana was made illegal and the U.S. government became very strict with cannabis laws.
This began around the 80’s and then started to become increasingly worse. Then, around the late 90’s and early 2000’s, scientific studies started to produce jaw-dropping results. Scientists started to discover that marijuana can significantly help people that have become ill. Medical marijuana has been tested to help people with cataracts, cancer and severe depression just to name a few (Zeese). States wanted to only make medical marijuana legal so it may help sick people, but the government did not want any form of marijuana legal. The law that was known throughout the United States was any form of marijuana was illegal. But now with this new discovery, doctors in states across the country wanted legalization of marijuana.
The first state to allow the use of medical marijuana was California in 1996 (Zeese). The only distribution of medical; marijuana though is through the recommendation of a certified doctor. Other states began to follow in the footsteps of California such as Arizona and Colorado. One thing led to the next and now there is up to fourteen states that have legalized the distribution of marijuana medically, with many more to come. These states allowed the use of medical marijuana to help people with anxiety and certain types of cancer. But the U.S. federal government has tried to prevent patients from obtaining cannabis and threatened physicians who prescribe it with criminal prosecution or loss of their license to practice medicine. But yet, the growing support for medical marijuana has grown massively in numbers over the past twenty years.
Furthermore, the United States has worked its economy into a financial crisis over the years and needs to start coming up with some plans to balance out the debt. The citizens of the United States are almost equally divided on the decision of legalization, but when examining the facts, there are many outstanding benefits that would arise as a direct result of legalization. A benefit of legalizing marijuana includes providing the government with leverage to this problem. Marijuana is currently against federal laws yet medical marijuana complies with several state laws. Every year, the government is obligated to spend money directly related to the cost of enforcing marijuana laws. Marijuana is a cash crop and can be used for clothes, paper, medical substances, along with many other uses.
The legalization of marijuana would provide the government and our country with control over a huge cash crop that can be easily cultivated to our climate. In addition to exporting hemp and marijuana to accumulate more funds, the government would be able to tax the plant very similarly to alcohol or tobacco. If this were the case, it is estimated ‘according to the calculations here, legalization would reduce government expenditure by $5.3 billion at the state and local level and by $2.4 billion at the federal level.” (Miron18). These figures generated in the article the Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition reinforce that the calculated values of getting rid of the expenditure caused by marijuana offenders along with the taxation of the substance would be a substantial revision to our economy.
Moreover, using marijuana for medicinal purpose is not a recent discovery. In fact, written references to use medical marijuana date back nearly 5,000 years. Western medicine embraced marijuana’s medical properties in the mid-1800s, and by the beginning of the 20th century, physicians had published more than 100 papers in the Western medical literature recommending its wide 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. Today, thousands of patients “like me “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.
On the other hand, opponents of medical marijuana or just marijuana itself have given many reasons for why it should not be legalized. One of the main reasons they argue is that Marijuana smoke contains known carcinogens and produces dependency in users. In many studies, it has shown that it does have some harm, such as the harms associated with smoking. But the National Academy of Science affirmed that “marijuana’s short term medical benefits outweigh any smoking-related harm for some patients. Though marijuana has been proven to be damaging to the lungs more than tobacco a study in 2006 found no evidence that marijuana smokers had higher rates of lung cancer.
The FDA has tested the effectiveness of marijuana and has found that the cannabinoids are helpful in treating pain associated with chemotherapy, postoperative recovery, and spinal cord injury, as well as neuropathic pain, which is often experienced by patients with metastatic cancer, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes. There is also no evidence shown that patients who use marijuana become addicted. Through the opposing side argues this, they show no evidence in supporting this claim, which therefore, the claim is invalid. There are many pharmaceutical drugs used for treatment and they are addictive, yet it’s legal. Also carcinogens can have a negative effect, but there are many things in society, such as tobacco, that contains harmful toxins, yet it’s still legal. To say marijuana should remain illegal because it is addictive, is irrelevant because these items are still present in society today and are harmful to the human body, but still they remain legal.
In addition, a huge controversial subject on marijuana legalization movement is the topic of criminal activity as a result of the plant’s legalization. Oppositionists in favor of keeping marijuana illegal argue that crime rates will spike to unheard of levels if marijuana is legalized. Advocates believe that the result of legalizing marijuana will result in the opposite. The legalization of marijuana will result in the opposite. The legalization of marijuana would create adverse effects on criminal activity levels. For example, the level of criminal offenders on marijuana will drop to zero. This would directly result on lower levels of crime as a whole due to the no longer existing costs associated with decriminalization. The end result of this would be no longer filling prisons and jails with marijuana offenders.
Another key issue on this point is whether or not organizations involved in cultivating, selling, or smuggling will strengthen to overcome the government control on marijuana. This is a hypothetical situation which more realistically would result in drug organizations holding power of more serious drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamines, or heroin. Drug trafficking organization control most of the power associated with these drugs already. The governmental control of marijuana would not strengthen drug organizations or gangs as no one would be able to compete against them.
Authors from the Elliot school of International Affairs/Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission states that “a retail markup between 20% and 50%, and state-level tax of 25$ per ounce, the price of legalized marijuana in California would likely be between $60 and $75 per ounce… legal marijuana regulated by the government would be roughly the same price as its Mexican competitor and between 23.6 times as potent” (Miron 28). The advantage would be largely held by the government if it was made readily available for public consumer use due to the convenience, price, and quality of the marijuana.
In conclusion, the United States as a whole is in need of new more effective policies to stimulate more economic growth, provide more advanced healthcare, and lower the nation’s criminal activity rate. As it stands today, marijuana is against the law and counteracts the advancement and prosperity of the United States. Through the research has been shown that marijuana has a large potential to become a solution and wiser decision to thee ongoing issues. Some of the top issues in the debates when arguing either side of marijuana prohibition and legalization were analyzed to effectively prove the benefits of legalization over prohibition. The legalization of marijuana has been analyzed to be effective addition to the federals laws set by the United States.
Many of the different reasons that the opposing side has given are irrelevant and can be easily proven by the evidence given by the proponents. The DEA has let millions of patients suffer miserably for many years because they refuse to give them the proper care. Research has already proven that it has medicinal values and it shouldn’t be withheld from the patients any longer than it already has.