The issue surrounding the legalization of marijuana is one of concern around the world. Many countries are currently assessing the move towards legalizing the drugs based on a number of recent studies that have been carried out in the field of medicine and economics. Researchers have proposed that the legalization of marijuana will not only offer medical improvements but, will also offer economic benefits to any country that seeks to legalize the drug. However, the arguments surrounding the legalizing of marijuana are strongly centered around money the government can earn and not so much on other areas.
The legalization of marijuana is grounded in many areas. Taxation and medicinal purposes only form the basis for which marijuana should be legalized. Caulkins et al. postulate
“there are multiple motivations for creating a legal cannabis market, including raising tax revenues, eliminating arrests, undercutting black markets and associated harms from corruption and violence, allowing criminal justice resources to be redirected toward other priorities, assuming product quality, increasing choices for those seeking intoxication and limiting youth access”. (866)
On the other hand, other advocates of legalizing marijuana point to an increase in the tax revenues and the decrease in law enforcement costs. However, those who are against that claim point to an overall increase in medical research costs and a decrease in productivity in the workplace. Either way, the arguments for and against the legalization of marijuana, is valid and until the government decides on a whether or not to legalize the drug, the controversy and researchers will continue to find around it.
In today’s society the continued use of marijuana for these purposes is widespread despite the continued prohibition on the plant’s growth and use by many countries. The United States legislative body had originally imposed federal laws that banned the use of marijuana in general under the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. The uses included recreation, industry, and medical. The substance was later listed as “Schedule I substances under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970”. This meant that marijuana was classified as unsafe as heroin and even more unsafe than cocaine with "a high potential for abuse no currently accepted medical use [and] a lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug under medical supervision."
Although there is a ban on marijuana, scientists across the world continue to study the use of this plant and the impact it may have on human beings. “Scientific study of the cannabis plant has now identified over 60 unique, biologically active cannabinoidsamong others - many of which possess documented therapeutic properties”. With this advancement in medicine, scientists should not have to worry about gaining legal access to the use of the plant for medical purposes. Marijuana should be legalized so that the field of medicine can continue to make medical breakthroughs.
Marijuana is bought and sold on the black market and this has led to much discussion on the economic benefits of legalizing the drug. Archambault et al. points out that there are approximately 363,000 marijuana users in the United States of America in 2013 and that based on the United Nations report in 2006, an estimated 0.15 grams to 0.5 grams of marijuana is consumed by individuals. This results in millions of grams of marijuana being used per year. They further noted that the current price of medicinal marijuana in the illegal aspect is consistent with the price on the black market and this price depends on the amount that is purchased and the quality of the product that is being sold.
In reality, the cost of marijuana is extremely high but, this could prove to be less expensive to produce if it were legalized. Miran notes “legal cannabis production may not be a large industry” which will supply the areas of interest but this can be made so if careful planning is put in place. Currently, those who produce marijuana take the risk by trading on the illegal market however this risk is inevitable as medical researchers look towards the positive uses of marijuana. The researches would have been more widespread if all researches had access to the use of the substance.
On the other hand, if the drug is legalized, then the illegal trade in marijuana would be totally or partially eliminated. This would leave the government in a with the options of implementing sin taxes on the trade as a means of keeping stability in the pricing of the drugs with those on the black market. The use of the taxes will boost the economy of the country. Also, in maintaining the current price, it would help to ensure that the legal market will rise above the black market and result in the reduction in the consumption rate of the drugs. Miran reinforces that the “government expenditure would decline and tax revenue would increase.”
However, one might say that the legalization of marijuana could create a more far-reaching impact on the countries’ employment rate. The fact is that marijuana production and sale on the black market is a “job” for many people. They produce the substance and sell for monetary benefits. Primarily, this “job” opportunity provides for their families. If the trade is legalized and the cost is comparable to the government then this trade would suffer financially. Illegal traders would have to join the unemployment line and this could put a strain on the employment rate in the country.
Nevertheless, the assumptions of the effects of marijuana on the economy cannot be assessed fully as “there is no convincing evidence that simply decriminalizing or depenalizing marijuana results in increased consumption.” (Archambault et al.) As such, “one can imagine that once the market is established, consumption will increase as the retail arena becomes more accessible and begins offering a wide array of consumable forms of marijuana.” (Archambault et al.) If this is so, then, the general public, who once relied heavily on the financial gains of trafficking marijuana for imports and exports, will become unemployed at the expense of the government attempts to boost their economy.
Deviants, who use marijuana for the thrill of engaging in unlawful practices, will find themselves seeking fun elsewhere. This can lead to social issues such as delinquent behaviors that the society will not want to deal with. One may argue that such behaviors cannot be predicted and should not be a factor in deciding the fate of marijuana, but the results to the economy or the society from legalizing marijuana cannot be predicted on the whole and can only be validated when the substance is legalized. Researchers, who lobby for the legalization of marijuana and those who are against this legalization, cannot in all honesty say that the process will add to or detract from the economic structure of the country.
It is more realistic to assume that the legalization of marijuana in any country can profit the country if taxes are levied on this substance. The fact that the demand on the drugs may or may not increase is a chance that would have to be taken into account. The legalization of marijuana means that just about anybody will be able to produce it, market it, and consume it thus eliminating the need to access it from external sources. With this in mind one could question how the average person benefits from the legalization of marijuana if they have no one to market it to.
The legalization of marijuana would ease the burden on the economy in terms of less people would go to prison on drug charges. It would reduce the number of inmates in the correctional facilities and put a limit to the number of banned drugs on the market. Furthermore it would reduce the amount of money the government spends on the prison system. It could create jobs for the law-abiding citizen who is willing to work for an honest living as the cannabis plant has other uses aside from smoking for social gratification. Its use in the medical field will offer people with cancer an opportunity to enjoy a more comfortable live while on chemotherapy as studies have shown that the nausea and vomiting that is often associated with the use of chemotherapy is greatly reduced if the uses marijuana.
Based on researches carried out in the medical field, the use of the plant varies from “pain relief supplements, appetite stimulation, nausea and vomiting mitigation, anti-spasticity and anti-spasmodic effects, [to] intraocular pressure reduction in patients with glaucoma”. Cancer patients and AIDS patients are also known to benefit from the use of the substance. It helps with nausea and diarrhea. With this in mind legalizing the substance would allow for more extensive researches in the medical world and for allowing.
Throughout history, humans have used different parts of the marijuana plant for many reasons. The most common use is to enhance moods. However the seeds and the stalk have contains little psychoactive content but may be used in other ways. The seeds from the plant have the much needed amino and fatty acids. The oil can also be used as a nutritional complement, thereby increasing the domestic use of the substance. The stalk can be used for “bast fiber content” and is an important element in the production of paper, rope, and clothing in many first world countries. In that case it should be legalized and its production regulated so as to offer a more affordable way to manufacture these essential goods.
The illegal importation of marijuana may cause serious medical problems for its users as it may contain many other unwanted substances because it is either poorly prepared or contains foreign substances that are added to ensure that the marijuana is addictive which would allow for a continuation of the sale. This addiction can lead to the individual becoming sick or dying, however if legalized, marijuana can be of clean and good quality when it is used and eliminates the fears associated with contaminated products in general.
Contrary to popular beliefs that marijuana will have a negative impact on the working world, marijuana’s legalization is not likely to have a negative effect on the working world as nobody is supporting the idea of smoking marijuana or being under the influence of marijuana on the job, anymore than anyone is supporting drinking or being drunk on the job. Responsible people who use marijuana for various reasons are expected to be present for work and behave responsibly and appropriately on the job. Those who use legal substances for recreational purposes or as a mood enhancer have little or no work performance problems. Why should marijuana users face the stigma that they will be a risk factor in the workplace? There is no published study that can realistically conclude that marijuana affects memory or impairs memory which would result in negative repercussions on the job. As such, there is no concrete evidence to continue to ban marijuana based on the notion that marijuana smoking impairs judgment.
Sullum points to the anti-pot group Project SAM which has claimed that drug test data show that the legalization of marijuana in Washington has contributed to the increase in the traffic fatalities based on medical examinations after these accidents. This they believe is a cause for concern. However, the blame should be levied elsewhere as marijuana stays in the blood stream for up to a week after use and does not necessarily mean that at the time of the fatality marijuana is the cause of the fatalities on the road. Again, this should not be considered as a deterrent to legalize the substance.
Marijuana affects each individual in different ways, but that does not mean that it will always have a negative impact on humans. The “weekender” uses the drug for recreational purposes and may not be using it at the time of any legal ramifications but is tested for the substance and is penalized. This is impractical as the usage of marijuana remains in the body for long periods and may not be responsible for any negative actions at a specific time.
The stigma that all marijuana users are reckless should be removed from arguments that seek to ban the substance as many users of marijuana are unknown to individuals and only the deviants who wish to openly break the laws will behave recklessly in public. In many cases, those who use marijuana for positive reasons live in the society. They go about their daily business unnoticed and one cannot pinpoint the user unless the user wants to be identified. Bloomquist, in his research, opines “in equating marijuana with other social indulgences, the general feeling was that the only bad thing about the drug is that its use could land the user in jail” (349).
In concluding, there is no solid evidence that marijuana is proven to be more dangerous to the human body and mind than alcohol, tobacco, heroin or cocaine. The use of the substance varies according to the individual. The response to the drug is also dependent on the user. The facts are that the legalization of marijuana would reduce the cost of health care as marijuana is cheaper to source if homegrown, the government can impose sin taxes on this luxury item to increase revenues, deviants who smoke marijuana would no longer be fascinated by the substances merely because it is illegal and as a result would have to find other means and ways to occupy their time, the judiciary system could not have the added burden of housing users of the substance and limiting the access to the substance by the younger generation. However, for the country on a whole to benefit from marijuana legalization, the legalization process would have to include some restrictions as to who is allowed to grow marijuana, the amount an individual can produce domestically and the age restrictions on the users. With these in place, there should be no cause for questions about legalizing marijuana.
Archambault, Michael (et al.) Benefit – Cost Analysis of Initiative 502: Legalization of
Marijuana in Washington. Vol.3 No.1 (2013). Web.
Caulkins, Jonathan, Design considerations for legalizing cannabis: lessons inspired by analysis
of California’s Proposition 19.doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03561.x
Dighe, Ranjit, Legalize It – The Economic Argument. Web. 12 April 2014.
Miron, Jeffrey, The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition. Web. 12 April 2014.
Sullum, Jacob, If Medical Marijuana In California is De Facto Legalization, Why Not Make It
Official? April 4, 2013. Web
Marijuana Compounds Could Help Combat Cancer, Alzheimers, and Parkinsons – if only they were legal. N.d. Web. 12 April 2014
Recent Research on Medical Marijuana. N.d. Web. 12 April 2014