Today, no one knows the exact size of the marijuana market (Fairchild 2). However, it is known with certainty that legalizing marijuana as a social drug will come with more benefits than problems. Essentially therefore, cost-benefit analysis justifies the legalization of marijuana. Apart from being economically viable, the decision to legalize marijuana will come with some aspect of fairness – after all, alcohol and tobacco, which have more harmful effects on human health, are legal. Research also indicates that Marijuana has quite a number of medical uses. To this end, it should be legalized to facilitate further research into the medical potential of the drug. It is worth mentioning that according to Fairchild, legalizing marijuana will help the federal government tap an extra tax income amounting to $8.7 billion (1). While there are many opposing opinions with regard to the decision to legalize marijuana, research indicates that criminalizing it is more detrimental. This paper seeks to explain, with supporting evidence, why marijuana should be made legal.
The Argument for the Legalization of Marijuana
Foremost legalizing marijuana will help the state government save a lot in terms of money and resources. The cost of enforcing the anti-marijuana laws is far too high, especially considering that such enforcement does not achieve much in terms of reducing the consumption of the drug. Enforcing the anti-marijuana laws has forced the state governments to expand the police force and enhance the anti-narcotics unit (Morgan 87). Such efforts create an economic burden for the government, which is forced to shift the burden to the taxpayers. Legalizing marijuana will cut such costs, and direct other financial resources to more useful services. Speaking of state facilities, legalizing marijuana will decongest prisons and state penitentiaries. The congested state of the correctional facilities creates dehumanizing conditions, which undermine the dignity of the prisoners. Decongesting of prisons has emerged as the most conspicuous benefit of legalizing marijuana in Colorado.
Another reason why marijuana should be legalized is that it lacks moral justification. From the definition of a real crime, there ought to be a perpetrator or the offender and the victim. There is absolutely no crime in consuming marijuana. By possessing and consuming marijuana, a person only harms himself, if at all consuming it is harmful. This can be analogized as a person robbing himself – there is absolutely no crime in that. In the same light, it is only morally justifiable to legalize marijuana because its peers are legal. Alcohol and tobacco are said to be more harmful, health-wise, than marijuana (46). It then beats logic why marijuana is criminalized.
Demonizing and criminalizing marijuana violates the most basic human right – the right to personal liberty. Rationally, human beings should be allowed to have control over their bodies to the extent of determining what to consume and what to avoid. To this end, marijuana should be made legal so as to empower people to practice the rights over their bodies. Allowing alcohol and tobacco consumers to enjoy the mind modification intoxicants while criminalizing marijuana, has the implication that marijuana users are debased citizens. Gerber explains that the war on drugs has been the most unjustified burden the American taxpayers have had to bear for well over forty years because today, the illegal drugs are purer and cheaper than ever (35). It therefore follows that legalizing marijuana will not only bring multiple economic and health benefits but also break the drug cartels that siphon billions from citizens.
Those holding contrary opinions argue that marijuana has negative effects on the health of human beings citing such examples as the diarrhea, loss of weight, blood vessel blockage, and loss of energy and so on. They argue that the medical benefits are temporary at best, and cannot be sustainable. Secondly, they argue that marijuana is associated with street crime as it is a serious intoxicant that alters the normal thinking of the average human being. Further, the opponents of the legalization efforts argue that marijuana is a potential cause of insanity, especially if consumed excessively. According to Burnham, one of the most common anti-legalization arguments is that the drug will motivate anti-social acts such as bullying in institutions of learning, and other social platforms (73).
Rebuttals and Conclusion
Fairchild, Caroline “Legalizing Marijuana Would Generate Billions in Additional Tax Revenue Annually” The Huffington Post, 04/20/2013
Morgan, Kayla. Legalizing Marijuana. Edina, MN: ABDO Pub. Co, 2011. Print.
Gerber, Rudolph J. Legalizing Marijuana: Drug Policy Reform and Prohibition Politics. Westport, Conn: Praeger, 2004. Print.
Burnham, Alex. Benefits of Legalizing Marijuana. Munich: GRIN Verlag GmbH, 2011. Print