Legalization of Marijuana
The issue on legalization of highly dangerous substances has always been a cause of debate for many countries considering the health and social risks it has over the public, and its users. Alcohol and tobacco are currently legal for distribution and production, making it one of the most lucrative businesses in the market. It is also a significant source for government funding as these two markets are required to pay high taxes to continue their production. Recently, the issue of legalizing another dangerous substance is being debated, and that is the substance known as Marijuana. Opponents to legalizing marijuana often note that marijuana is illegal for a reason due to the health and social risks it poses to the public, plus it opens opportunities for non-users to try out the new hit drug. There is also the argument that even without a legalization bill for marijuana, users would continue to use it either way. However, supporters to legalization point out that once marijuana is cleared as a legal substance for production, it is possible to acquire a large amount of revenue from the marijuana business, exercise maximum legal power to regulate marijuana and utilize marijuana for beneficial purposes such as medicine and science.
Opponents to marijuana have pointed out several setbacks that legalization would pose when Marijuana is put into the table. According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health results filed by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (2012), marijuana users in the country have reached up to 17.4 million people from ages 12 and above as compared to its standard rate in the early 1950s. The rate of young users has also spiked up to 21.5% since 2008, making marijuana the preferred drug for the younger generation. Alongside the increasing rise of marijuana users, the report has also noted that since 1998, marijuana has doubled in terms of its potency. This makes marijuana a dangerous substance that must be restrained or monitored . Sherman (2010) noted that with these numbers of users increasing, legalizing marijuana would be useless considering it should moderate users from purchasing or using marijuana. Many of the heavy users of marijuana remain ignorant over the sub-clauses and finer details of the legalization. Lawmakers also believe that marijuana legalization must not push through as many people would get enticed to try the drug. Law makers also see the legalization as an additional burden to the government as time and money would have to be allotted to amend the constitution and the FDA standards, which stress that marijuana is indeed an illegal drug. In time, newer forms of marijuana would then be available in the market, which may become riskier than the traditional marijuana users are accustomed.
It has also been argued by opponents to marijuana legalization that children and teenagers would find marijuana more appealing once it is legalized. According to the US Shafer Commission tasked to discover the possible effects of legalization to the public, legalization of marijuana would bring an increased number of users, and some would become heavy users. The report had also acknowledged the possibility that with the drug becoming cheaper for the public; it would enable the children to purchase it . In addition to this, legalization would also foster an increase in taxes and social costs that could spell disaster for the public. In another article written by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (2011), it stressed that marijuana legislation would be increasing social costs for the public, which would also influence the revenue it generates and pays the government. Currently, this trend is seen in tobacco and alcohol as it reports high cases of social costs, estimated from $185-200 billion, and only pays up to $9-20 billion. If marijuana is added to these legalized, social costs would continue to increase, and there is a likelihood that the government would find itself facing issues on coping up with backlogs on cases related to marijuana, which may take time to resolve .
On the other hand, marijuana itself can be considered beneficial should it be regulated properly under the legalization process, and if it is thoroughly studied. Doweiko (2012) stressed that scientists and experts are now discovering the medical properties of marijuana, especially for treating complications and other highly severe diseases. In 1970, for example, several patients have improved mobility since they smoked marijuana as part of their treatment to sclerosis. Other researches had also indicated smoking marijuana would foster recovery from Alzheimer’s disease, chronic pain disorders due to HIV-1 and removal of neurological trauma. Marijuana is also speculated, and cited by some experts, to control asthma, anorexia, emphysema and risks of hypertension and heart complications. Recently, marijuana is being studied if it is capable of eliminating tumor growth and gliomas if used by patients. Others are still looking at the other medical properties of marijuana’s components to treat other incurable diseases .
Legalization of marijuana would also foster not just economic revenue increase for the country, but also additional power to the government and law enforcement to regulate and sustain marijuana production in the market. Morgan (2010) noted that economically, legalization would open a new market that could generate income to allow the government to pay its debts in the international market and improve services offered to the public. Currently, the United States’ marijuana industry caters to $14 billion sales yearly, which could be beneficial to the country’s declining economy. Legalization would also help the government the regulate marijuana funds and utilize it to beneficial ventures that could benefit the country. Aside from this, marijuana could also generate $6.2 billion sales in the federal level, which is double the income generated by either tobacco or alcohol. Politically, marijuana legislation would also empower law enforcement as legalization would enable revisions to the country’s drug war campaign, and concentrate more on creating a commission that would oversee marijuana distribution and regulation. Studies show that the federal government has already spent $31 billion of the country’s funding for drug control alone, leaving only $10 billion for prevention and treatment. Marijuana legislation would replace this expensive drug war campaign and utilize the funds for other prohibitions. In the assessment done by Jeffrey Miron for his paper “The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition”, he cites that the government would save $7.7 billion worth of expenditures for both federal and state level once marijuana prohibition is related with regulation. In this extent, it is seen that once legalization is done, the country would prosper economically, politically, and medically .
The arguments raised by opponents to marijuana have some truths which are seen in their analysis on how the two substances – alcohol and tobacco – are faring in the market. It is undeniable that even the legalization of both substances only led to the increase of users, fostering high social costs for health and ease of access for younger users. However, these arguments showcase that the government has lapses in ensuring that the regulations under legalization is followed. One can point out that the social costs entailing legalization would be prevent if the government had strictly enforced regulation of production and distribution, which is the leading reason why even younger users could attain alcohol and tobacco. On the other hand, it is also undeniable that, with the lapses of governments to impose their own substance legalization process, it is influencing the country in another means. Marijuana, or cannabis itself could become a business that could benefit the entire country as it could generate the funding needed to restore the economy and also find treatment to the severest of diseases.
Doweiko, H. (2012). Concepts of Chemical Dependency. Belmont: Brooks/Cole.
Morgan, K. (2010). Legalizing Marijuana. Edina: ABDO Publishing Company.
Office of National Drug Control Policy. (2011, March 3). Marijuana Legalization. Retrieved November 23, 2012, from Office of National Drug Control Policy: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/ondcp/Fact_Sheets/marijuana_legalization_fact_sheet_3-3-11.pdf
Office of National Drug Control Policy. (2012, April). Marijuana: Know the Facts. Retrieved November 22, 2012, from Office of National Drug Control Policy: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/page/files/marijuana_fact_sheet_3-28-12.pdf
Sherman, J. (2010). Drug Trafficking. North Mankato: ABDO Publishing Group.