Marijuana refers to the common name for a crude substance that is derived from Cannabis sativa, a plant. The drug contains various psychoactive ingredients in it, with THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) being the highest in concentration (Mitch, 2005, p. 17). The debate as to whether marijuana should be legalized in the United States has been one of the most controversial issues to ever occur in the country. There are numerous reasons that would make the legalization of the drug very beneficial. Some of the reasons include; medicinal attributes of marijuana, possible tax booster, and huge cost cutting on the amounts of money invested in trying to curb its use. It would also lead to possible reductions in the numbers of teens exposing themselves to drugs.
Medicinal Values of Marijuana
It is widely known that marijuana has numerous medicinal values. Recent research has shown that marijuana has unique properties that help in most of the diseases being experienced today. The American Medical Association indicated recently that marijuana use is not as dangerous as has been reflected in the past (Bello, 2010, p. 34). It has been argued that the use of marijuana is actually less dangerous compared to other drugs that are commonly used and legal such as cigarettes and even most of over-the-counter prescriptions or medicines. In its natural form, marijuana is one of the safest therapeutically active substances that are available to man today (Carter, Dale & Rosenthal, 2008, p. 101). Medical advancement and knowledge is very vital and determines the general state of the health of individuals; a factor which directly affects positively or negatively their consequent productivity in the economy. The medicinal values of marijuana have not only been researched and proved, but also tested and positively worked over the years.
The most basic and widely known medicinal use of marijuana is that it is used as a fast and effective pain killer. The fact that it plays a crucial role here cannot be refuted. The drug has therapeutic attributes. The therapeutic values of marijuana are derived from the numerous chemicals that are found in the leaves, resin, and buds of the cannabis plant. The plant was used by past generations. Its use has been traced to China in as early as the 2737 B.C (Brown & Wendy, 2011, p. 44). There is other numerous evidence of its therapeutic use throughout the world cultures. Until 1941, marijuana was used in colonial America and was also listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia as tincture of cannabis. The findings of William B. O’Shaughnessy in the 19th Century indicated after competent tests and procedures, that the drug was safe and could be effectively used in the treatment of various diseases (Green, 2009, p. 38). Marijuana is also used to reduce or relieve nausea experienced by cancer patients who are undergoing powerful chemotherapy. Marijuana is also used by patients who have AIDS and multiple sclerosis. It helps the respective patients to not only get better, but also elongating their lives. The drug has also proved to be effective in the treatment of glaucoma. This is because its use lowers pressure on the eye.
The medical uses of marijuana are not just limited to the stated ones above. They are numerous and relevantly applicable in the medical realm today. The state has the obligation of taking into account the health of all the citizens. Legalizing marijuana could help researchers to enhance their studies into other medical uses of the drug. Therefore, it is obvious that the legalization of the drug has numerous benefits in the medical realm. The government should therefore legalize the drug if the interests of the citizens are of high priority.
Economic benefits of Legalizing Marijuana
The legalization of marijuana by the government can lead to long term positive economic implementation. It is widely known that the amounts of generated from the illegal trade of marijuana are mind boggling. It is estimated that the industry generates up to $ 36 billion annually (Yu, 2009, p. 5). Legalizing marijuana could help the government impose tax from earnings in the trade. The amounts of money from this industry will help most individuals to endorse its farming. Consequently, this would lead to numerous job creations. This factor is vital for the general economic performance. Further, it impacts directly and positively to the farmers involved.
Legalization of marijuana will create a large multi-billion dollar industry. William Hearst, the American business man who owns large acres of forested land is against the legalization of marijuana. This is because he fully comprehends the big potential of the drug to the economy. Legalizing marijuana will not only out do his paper industry earnings to a large extend but also relatively lower the values of his lands. The campaign that is carried out by the likes of William Hearst can be easily explained. Their acts are not related to any moral or health implications of marijuana. Simply, the investors are trying not to lose their money and resources with the legalization of the drug. They realize its potential to driving them out of business within no time.
There are huge amounts of money that are used in the prevention of the sell of marijuana. Combined with the huge tax loss that the government is experiencing, it is evident that legalization is on the best interest of the government. For instance, the British government spends up to 500 million pounds a year on their quest to fight drugs. This also means that the respective government does not get any tax from 1.8 billion pound illegal drug market. This is case is replicated in the United States (Green & Cameron, 2005, p. 67). An entire industry can be created out of marijuana based products. Evidently, the government is on the losing end by not legalizing the drug. Our law enforcement has more vital obligations in place than arresting 750,000 individuals a year for marijuana possession, especially given the additional justice costs involved in disposing each of these cases (Bruce, Andrew, Elosie & Stephen, 2008, p. 229). The arrests from marijuana related cases just help in making justice expensive and less efficient in the United States. In addition, it is evident that jail space is wasted, clogging up of the justice system is effected, diversion of corrections officials from other violent crimes and even wasting of police time. Furthermore, the taxation of marijuana, as a result of its legalization can provide the highly needed and generous funding of numerous criminal justice and social programs.
Legalization of Marijuana as a way of Reducing its Abuse
The government should not only legalize the use of marijuana but also regulate the market. A legal but regulated market of marijuana will help to lower its sales and also reduce its exposure to young people. Furthermore, this action will see to it that teenagers’ risk of being exposed to other dangerous and illicit substances is cut down. It is evident that the illegality of marijuana is making the drug more valuable than it would if it was legal. This aspect contributes to availing chances to young people and other individuals to earn easy cash from its sell. If large amounts of money connected with marijuana sales are cut down through legalization of the drug, there is going to be lesser incentives for teenagers to engage in its sales.
Taking the example of alcohol and tobacco to relate to this situation brings out the relevance clearer. The consumption of alcohol and tobacco by teenagers remains a critical health problem though the substances are not illegal to adults. The fact that tobacco and alcohol are easily accessed is not made even more widespread by providing the teenagers with lucrative economic need to engage in its sales. Legalizing marijuana will help in reducing this problem to a large extent.
Arrests that have resulted from the use of marijuana negatively affect the perception of numerous individuals around the world today. It is evident that arrests for marijuana possession are disproportionately affecting Hispanics and blacks in the United States. The action is helping to reinforce the perception that the law enforcement in the United States is prejudiced and biased against minorities. Statistics indicate that African-Americans account for approximately 13% of the total population of the United States. Further, the statistics indicate that 13.5% of annual marijuana users are blacks. African-Americans also account for 26% of all marijuana arrests (Kapner, 2003).
Recent research findings demonstrate that Hispanics and blacks account for the majority of arrests in connection marijuana possession in New York City (Caulkins, Kilmer, Reuter & Bond, 2010, p. 43). Mostly, this is as a result of smoking the drug in public view. It is evident that law enforcement has failed to demonstrate that the laws governing the use of marijuana can be enforced fairly without regard to race. Far too often blacks and Hispanics are arrested fro marijuana use and possession. White and non Hispanics Americans on the other hand face a much lower risk of arrest in connection to marijuana use or possession. The scenario created here is that there is wide racial prejudice over the use of the drug. Legalizing the drug would help to a large extent in reducing or changing wholly this public perception.
Facts and Myths in the Debate over Legalizing Marijuana
Prohibition of marijuana has been based on disinformation and lies that have been developed over the years. Those opposing marijuana legalization base their justification on selectively applying science oriented findings on the herb. This has led to the loss of credibility of people that are marijuana users; for example, teachers and even police officers who use the herb end up losing their credibility when people around them know they use the herb. All these happen because the real effects of marijuana have been overstated and also distorted by those opposing its legalization. These lies have been carried down over successive generations. However scientific experiments conducted recently have proven that most of the existent information about marijuana is false. The variation in findings between those done on marijuana in the past and those done now is due to the advances made in science; past scientific evaluation of marijuana effects was also uncertain hence making the findings unreliable (Newhart, Rosenthal & Kubby, 2003, p. 80).
The discovery of the system of the cannabinoid receptor has helped clarify some of the information put forward about marijuana (Gerber, 2008, p. 52). It is interesting to note that most of the past information on marijuana has not been proven by new age scientific methods. One thing that both sides of the argument seem to agree on is that marijuana should not be used by children. However, the use of the herb by adults has been proven to have no effects on the user.
Marijuana as a Bio-Fuel
The legalization of marijuana will help in simplifying the development of hemp as a diverse and valuable agricultural crop in the United States. This also includes its consequent development as a new bio fuel that will help in a large way in reducing toxic carbon emissions that are adversely affecting the ozone layer. Some countries, such as Canada and other European countries have managed to support legal cultivation of hemp without legalizing the use of marijuana (Yu, 2009, p. 8). However, in the United States, opposition to positive actions of legalizing marijuana remains the biggest obstacle to development of the industrial hemp as a very useful agricultural product. As the United States energy policy keeps embracing and promoting the development of bio fuels as viable alternatives to the dependence on oil and an effective mode of reducing carbon emissions, it is vital that there is development of industrial hemp as a bio fuel source. Furthermore, the use of hemp stalks as alternative sources of fuel will not increase demand and prices for food. Legalization of marijuana will greatly help in simplifying the regulatory burden on prospective hemp growing in the United States. This is a vital factor that the government and legislators should take into consideration by legalizing marijuana.
It is evident that prohibition has failed to curb the use and domestic production of marijuana in the past years. The government has even tried to use stiff criminal penalties to prevent marijuana use for over 70 years. However, despite all these numerous efforts, marijuana use has not declined. The drug is grown all over the planet today. Marijuana is now used by over 24 million people annually. Research findings indicate that cannabis is currently the largest cash crop in the United States. Evidently, the claims that marijuana prohibition is a successful policy are not only ludicrous but also unsupported by facts. Further, the idea that marijuana use will soon be eliminated from the United States and the rest of the world is a ludicrous fantasy. The government should consider surrendering its fierce war against this mild and useful drug. Legalizing its use would be one positive step towards this action.
Marijuana Users’ Opinion on the Debate
It is evident that marijuana users are determined to keep fighting over the legalization of the substance. The users are determined to stand up to the injustice of marijuana probation and effectively accomplish legalization. No matter how long or what it takes to succeed, marijuana users are simply on the go not to budge on the immense pressure. The law enforcement agencies have made many arrests of marijuana users and also several sanctions have been put in place to reduce consumption of marijuana; however the users still push for legalization of marijuana (Cermark, 2003, p. 42). Evidently, they believe in the fundamental values provided for by the American society.
Prohibition, which is seen as the best way to reduce marijuana usage, has not been effective as users still call for legalization. This shows the debate over legalization of marijuana is a debate that cannot be assumed. From the above it can be seen that marijuana should be legalized since the users seem committed to fight for this until it happens. Therefore, the government and law makers should concede defeat and give justice to these individuals.
Marijuana is not a lethal drug as portrayed by numerous individuals. Furthermore, it can be labeled safer than alcohol and other numerous over the counter drugs. It is an established fact that marijuana is not a toxic substance to human beings. Further, marijuana overdose is unheard of. Actually, it is almost next to impossible to have a marijuana overdose. Further, marijuana is not nearly as addictive as the use of tobacco and alcohol. It is therefore not only unjust but also unfair to treat marijuana users more harshly under the law than the users of tobacco and alcohol. Clearly, the government is on the losing end with its fierce fight against the use of marijuana. Maybe it is time that the government considered various factors that will make it realize that it is moving against the current.
Legalizing marijuana will help reduce the flow of huge amounts of money from the United States economy to the other international criminal gangs. The illegality of marijuana makes foreign cultivation and consequently smuggling of the drug into the United States extremely profitable. Thus, billions of dollars are sent overseas in several underground economic strategies. These factors negatively affect the economy in general as funds are diverted from the productive economic development. Therefore, the government should consider this vital aspect and therefore legalize marijuana.
Marijuana supports obviously expect strong opposition from the likes of Hearst. However, the selfishness of the corporations as well as other individuals should not prevent the government from legalizing marijuana like in the 1930’s. Regardless of the numerous misconceptions surrounding the use of marijuana, the fact still remains that marijuana has the potential to become one of the most useful substances and drugs in the whole world. If the government and other concerned individuals will take action and legalized marijuana today, we will in effect see benefits from this decision.
Individuals affected and suffering from illnesses such as manic depression and Multiple Sclerosis will be able to experience relief. The government will also make billions of dollars derived from the taxation of this trade and other related industries such as the fiber extraction from the source plant. Furthermore, the process of legalizing marijuana will lead to implementations in the industrial sector. Its implementation in the industrial world will help create thousands of new jobs for numerous jobless citizens in the United States today. No recorded deaths have occurred due to the use of marijuana. Furthermore, the drug is not physically addictive to the users like tobacco or alcohol. Most qualified doctors will agree that marijuana use is safer than most freely used and widely accepted drugs in the market today. The illegality of marijuana has not validity at all evidently.
The numerous positive aspects that have been enumerated in the research serve as vital references and evidence as to why the legalizing of marijuana in the United States is vital. The government and law makers should therefore make the right and wise decision of legalizing marijuana use as soon as possible. It is an action that will help in very many ways, the government and the larger society.
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