Americans have been growing and using marijuana for centuries, dating all the way back to the 1600’s. As a matter of fact, people were actually required by law to grow marijuana. It was even used as legal tender in the states of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania! But as most of us know, today it is illegal to buy, sell, and even grow it. So why exactly would the same country that once endorsed the use of marijuana have such a profound resistance to it now in the 20th and 21st centuries? With the recent decisions of states such as Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado to legalize recreational use of marijuana, now is the time more than ever to seriously consider ending the federal ban on marijuana.
So why exactly should Marijuana be legal? For starters, legalizing marijuana would be great for the economy. The effort put into enforcing anti-drug policy, also known as the War on Drugs, is extremely costly. According to more than 300 economists and a report done by Professor Jeffrey A. Miron, the government could save an estimated $7.7 billion annually simply by not having to enforce the laws that prohibit marijuana. That’s a lot of money that could be invested in something much more worthwhile like alternative energy research.
Another important result of legalization of marijuana on the economy is taxes and tax revenue. If marijuana was made legal, the federal government would be able to regulate the sale of it similar to the way they do with tobacco and alcohol. Let’s look at Colorado as an example. In the past year alone, tax revenue generated from the sale of marijuana reached nearly $70 million. Let that number sink in. This is money that is being reinvested into the state and is being using to build new schools and improve infrastructure.
In addition to the money saved by not having to enforce anti-drug laws and money generated from taxes, the government could also save $1 billion from not having to maintain drug offenders in prison. Referring to a report conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “The new report is noteworthy because it undermines the common claim from law enforcement officers and bureaucrats, specifically White House drug czar John Walters, that few, if any, Americans are incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses. In reality, nearly 1 out of 8 U.S. drug prisoners are locked up for pot.” (Armentano, Alternet).That is an alarming number. These are more than likely people who just wanted to smoke a joint and relax in their homes and now they are being imprisoned with the same people that use heroin and meth which are infinitely more dangerous than marijuana.
Another major point for the case that marijuana should be legalized is because of its medical benefits. Marijuana has been known to have medicinal properties for quite some time now and 20 states have already legalized medical marijuana. Common uses for medical marijuana include treating glaucoma, reducing epileptic seizures, coping with depression and anxiety, treating cancer, easing pain, and many more. What’s really surprising to me though is that despite all of this information and research done on medical marijuana and it s uses, marijuana is still classified as a schedule 1 drug meaning the government considers it to have zero medicinal value. How is that possible? How could you be so ignorant that you include marijuana in the same category of drugs as heroin? That just doesn’t make any sense at all.
The sad thing about this is that the people that do not live in states where medical marijuana is legal and those who rely on it are being actively pursued by the DEA and local law enforcement and are being treated as criminals. Steve and Maria Green are residents of Michigan and suffer from epilepsy and multiple sclerosis respectively. They had been growing marijuana legally in their backyard under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act since 2011. Maria is a registered caregiver and both are qualified patients. None of this however stopped Children’s Protective Services from coming in and removing their daughter Bree from them, who was only 6 months old. “Bree was ordered removed from our home because the judge said it was an inherently dangerous situation that people could break in to steal the marijuana and steal the baby.” (Blakinger, TheFix). That is just nonsense. There was no evidence that the baby was at any danger while in their custody yet she was still taken away from them regardless simply for using a drug that helps treat their conditions. What is the difference between taking a medicine that is prescribed by a doctor and smoking marijuana if both have the same effect? Again, the logic is just so flawed.
With all of this being said, there must some good reasons for not legalizing marijuana, right? Well you would be wrong to think that. Some common arguments made for anti-drug and anti-marijuana include that marijuana is a gateway drug, legalization of marijuana would increase crime rates, and that marijuana can be abused.. Let’s start with the argument that marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to doing all sorts of other harmful drugs. There is always going to be a gateway drug no matter what. If marijuana were made legal, the next cheapest and most readily available drug would be considered the gate way drug. People would then exclaim that THAT drug is a gateway drug simply because it’s the most popular. Where do we draw the line? Next let’s cover the abuse argument. Literally anything can be abused. People abuse alcohol all the time yet it’s still legal? What about morbidly obese people who abuse food? Should food be made illegal too? Give me a break. Lastly there is the argument of increased crime. When looking at Colorado, “Though the overall reduction was only 10 percent, the impact is quite visible, claim proponents of marijuana consumption. According to the data obtained, homicides went down from 17 to 8, a massive 53 percent drop, automobile break-ins went down from 2,317 to 1,477 (36 percent), and sexual assaults from diminished to 95 from 110 (14 percent)” (Desai, Inquisitr). Clearly crime isn’t an issue there.
So in conclusion, the federal ban on marijuana should be lifted for a variety of reasons. For one, the legalization of marijuana would help stimulate the economy tremendously by increasing tax revenues and saving the government billions of dollars by not having to enforce anti-drug policy. Marijuana should also be legalized for its countless medicinal properties including treatment of glaucoma and epileptic seizures. The time to legalize is now, citizens of America and it’s up to you to do so. Write to your local politicians and make you r voice be heard. Be actively involved in the process by getting up and voting when legislation is being introduced. Together, we can finally end the long and unjustified prohibition of marijuana and change the future of America forever.
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“Colorado Raised More Tax Revenue From Marijuana Than Alcohol.” Time. Time, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.
Loria, Jennifer Welsh and Kevin. “23 Health Benefits Of Marijuana.”Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 20 Apr. 2014. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.
“Is Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Use Beneficial To The Society? Colorado Crime Rate Statistics Surely Suggest So.” The Inquisitr News. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.
“Pot Prisoners Cost Americans $1 Billion a Year.” Alternet. N.p., 10 Feb. 2007. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.
“How Medical Marijuana Users Are Treated Like Criminals | The Fix.” The Fix. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.