Many states have never agreed on the issue of legalization of marijuana. Part of the society emphasize that the drug has many negative effects to the society and hence should remain illegal. The power to legalize marijuana is in the hand of the state government. Some states have already legalized the use of marijuana. The aim of this legalization is to facilitate its use in recreation activities and for medical purposes. It is important to recognize that marijuana has some negative effects to the society (Gieringer, 79). However, the drug can be used wisely to benefit the members of the society. This research paper will discuss why legalizing marijuana is of importance for medical purposes.
First, marijuana has not been shown or verified to have any detrimental effects on the human body. In addition, marijuana has a history of substantial medical and clinical applications for people with certain conditions. Medical marijuana is often used as an anesthetic in several countries around the world (Koch). For example, glaucoma is a condition in which medical marijuana is distributed to patients, as it helps alleviate the symptoms and increase comfort in the person suffering. Through this use, marijuana lowers eye pressure. (Southall, 137). Fifteen states, as well as the District of Columbia, currently allow medical marijuana to be sold and prescribed to its citizens (Caulkins et al.). Marijuana is important for those suffering from cancer and AIDS in that it helps to relieve pain to these patients. It can be a treatment to those people who have no appetite.
Marijuana, if legalized, could bring in substantial tax revenue for state and federal governments, which could help alleviate current economic disparity. For example, if the recently downturned Proposition 19 had passed in California, nearly $1.4 billion in tax revenue could have been earned by the state (New York Times). This money would have been used for prison and law enforcement budget enhancements, which are very important in a time when many police departments are understaffed, and prisons are overcrowded. There is a substantial demand for marijuana, mostly due to its illegal nature, the tapping of this untouched market is rife with possibility, as the demand would remain, but government could tax the purchase of marijuana for medical purposes.
Additionally, the legalization of marijuana would also lessen the burden of an increasingly taxed and exhausted criminal justice system. Currently, the prison system is extremely flawed, creating a cycle for repeat offenders due to a prison culture that demands that people become tougher than they may have been before in order to survive, no matter what offense got them into prison in the first place (Nadelmann). Moreover, Prisons are overcrowded due to unnecessarily tough sentences for subjectively minor crimes. An example of this is the sentence for pot possession. Depending on how much marijuana the offender held, judges and political officials might impose harsh sentences to seem “tough on crime.”
Convicted felons, who are guilty of nothing more than seeking out the use of marijuana and may not have been involved in other criminal affairs, are then introduced to the prison system. Threats of violence and rape are common in many federal prisons, and as a result, inmates have to resort to violent measures in order to survive. This situation turns ordinarily innocent people into violent criminals through the prison system itself. Prisoners are left being wholly incapable of dealing with the outside world by the time they are released. Once released, a prisoner’s ability to get a job is affected due to his or her status as an ex-convict (Nadelmann).
The legalization of marijuana could help budget deficits immensely. The city of Berkeley’s mayor, Tom Bates, requested a tax increase on marijuana dispensaries that would add a substantial amount of revenue to the city budget, closing a $16.2 million gap in funding that is in desperate need in the local economy (Humphreys). Other cities are experiencing similar benefits by taxing its medical marijuana; Denver generates approximately $2 million a year from marijuana taxes on its 256 dispensaries, and California is seeking to increase taxes in order to have the same results in its large medical marijuana market.
However, there are many opponents to marijuana legalization. Their opposition is primarily based on health. First, they claim that marijuana is addictive, and that it can act as a gateway to harder drugs, such as cocaine or heroin. They believe that marijuana usage blocks neurons and replaces neurotransmitter chemicals, potentially causing permanent brain damage (Koch). In addition, opponents state that marijuana use is not medically sound, and that there are no real measurable results found in people who take it to address medical conditions (Caulkinset al). However, experiments performed on the use of marijuana have found only positive results, and in some cases have helped people immensely with a variety of symptoms, including nausea from cancer treatments (Koch). In the case of people with terminal cancers and other conditions, marijuana would help them relieve their discomfort that does not cause detrimental side effects.
It is argued that legalization of marijuana use for medical purposes is a beginning toward legalization of marijuana for general purposes. This is not true in that it is possible to control use of marijuana for medical purposes. In those states where legalization has taken effect, people are required to prove medical prescription and only certain amount is given to such individuals. Therefore, it is possible to control marijuana use to ensure that it is not used for other purposes. Some people also argue that legalization of marijuana will lead to an increase in the number of people using the drug and especially the youths. The fact of the matter is that even if the drug is not legalized, some people will access it through the black market and abuse it. It is not true to argue that marijuana is causing accidents in roads. Statistics show that accidents caused by marijuana abuse are far less than those caused by alcohol abuse, which is a legal drug (Shohov, 102).
Likewise, there are concerns among many pro-marijuana advocates that legalization would drive up prices, despite their desires for greater legitimacy for cannabis – the loss of romanticism related to pot smoking might make the number of people who smoke decrease if it is legalized (Reuters). However, the demand for marijuana is much greater than anticipated by many; 46% of people in a 2010 Gallup poll stated that they would like marijuana to be legal. In a sample of 20 respondents, when asked about their opinion on marijuana legalization, 40% said they would prefer legalization, while 60% desired varying degrees of restrictions on its legality. According to this study, males are far more likely to agree with marijuana legalization than women; regardless of actual experience with the drug, (Caulkins et al).Marijuana could become a bumper crop, which could cause a large tourism boom for the states that legalize it, turning marijuana into a large industry that cannot be ignored. The amount of money a state could earn in the event of marijuana legalization is staggering.
It is true that marijuana is a drug like any other and has negative consequences to its users. However, many benefits can be realized if use of marijuana is legalized. People are suffering from diseases that could be healed by use of marijuana. Others have pain that can be easily relieved by marijuana. It is important to legalize marijuana so that patients can access the drug without fear. It is of less importance if patients continue to buy the drug from dangerous sources. Marijuana has fewer consequences as compared to other drugs such as tobacco and alcohol that have no medical importance (Shohov, 139). If marijuana is legalized, both the citizens and the government will gain in that the government will be able to collect more taxes from its sale. Otherwise, the government loses more if patients continue buying the drug from unknown sources. Some of the arguments that are given by those opposing the use of marijuana are unreasonable and lack enough support. It can be concluded that legalizing marijuana use for medical purposes will benefit more people in society than those it will harm.
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