November 12, 2010
It’s Time to Legalize
The heated issue of legalizing marijuana has been a never-ending dispute. It is
important to keep in mind that before marijuana was banned in the United States, it was
widely used for recreational and medical purposes in many countries. This is the core
issue that has lead to many other issues within the heated debate of marijuana and thus
must be examined more thoroughly. Ever since the banning of marijuana, the United
States has spent billions of dollars annually in order to combat and control marijuana. It
is currently the main banned drug being used in the United States as well. Legalizing
marijuana can potentially create a better social climate and benefit the country
economically as a whole. It is indeed what we need in these hard times.
Since the beginning of the 20th century when marijuana was officially banned in
many countries, no country has expended trillions of dollars towards the effort of drug
control on the substance like the United States. Currently the United States spends about
150 billion dollars on crimes and courts and almost 50 percent of that is related to
marijuana (Klein 1). This is a staggering figure and an awful lot of money being spent on
something that isn’t regulated well nonetheless. Marijuana is still an illegal commodity
that isn’t all that hard to get if you’re willing to search in the right places.
In today’s tough economical disaster of a world, imagine what a country can do
with hundreds of billions of dollars. Surely government programs would not have to be
cut and there also would not have to be a cut back on government employees as well. For
the government to spend such an insurmountable amount of tax dollars on something that
is arguably unenforceable is just blasphemy. Perhaps if that money was refocused on
areas that are in need like education and areas that may help stimulate or ameliorate the
current economic condition would be exceptional helpful as well.
The previous paragraph isn’t to say that marijuana usage isn’t a problem in
America however. As a student in the states I hear of many young adults abusing the
substance and irresponsibly using the substance to escape the troubles of the mundane
world. Marijuana by nature has an extremely soothing feature to it that lets to user relax.
It is a narcotic drug that puts its users into short-term effects of relaxation and
lightheadedness. Although it does not physically harm the user immediately, many
people who have used the substance normally crave it again and this can thus lead to an
In a more indirect way, money spent on the drug control of marijuana, which has
obviously not repaid back the billions of dollar spent on it, can be funneled in another
way. George Soros proposes, “The best solution, however, is honest and effective drug
education” (A 17). This indeed would be a solution that educates the masses of young
adults that are at risk to wrong exposure of marijuana. Education grants something that
experience doesn’t and that’s the fact that if you’re educated on something you don’t
have to go through the experience if it is not a pleasant one. Drug education would also
spring forth another factor, which is tied to economy as well, and that is jobs. Drug
education would require teachers and thus trained educators would then be hired and then
stimulate the economy.
Although marijuana is considered illegal, there are also benefits for the drug. For
examples, there is something called medical marijuana and it basically uses the drug for
its passive effects of muscle soothing and relaxation. This harmless part of the drug is
also what many people who purchase marijuana illegally use the drug for as well. In fact,
many people argue that marijuana should be considered a medicine and not an illegal
substance for it doesn’t necessarily do anything harmful to an individual, but rather gives
the user of the substance a relaxation effect. This argument has been highly controversial
and is still on going today as well.
It isn’t a coincidence that many users of marijuana are young adults and even
adolescents. In today’s harsh economic environment with lacking healthcare coverage
for youths living in poverty many of them apparently then turn to marijuana. A study
done by several authors state that “Marijuana is perceived by some teens to be the only
available alternative for teens experiencing difficult health problems when medical
treatments have failed or when they lack access to appropriate health care” (Bottorff 1).
This would mean that within the control group that many adolescents and youths use
marijuana for their meditative effects and not for abuse. If this is the case, legalizing
marijuana isn’t beneficial to these kinds of people because they have no other means of
acquiring medication for their physical or psychological issues.
Knowing the health benefits of marijuana may not convince many people. Joe
Klein, a magazine author states “It is estimated that pot is the largest cash crop in
California, with annual revenues approaching $14 billion. A 10% pot tax would yield
$1.4 billion in California alone” (1). That is a huge economic benefit anyway an
individual can look at it and it will certainly benefit the Californian state that is currently
in a huge budget deficit.
The impact of prohibiting marijuana also brings in trouble for the law as well as
wasting tax dollars. This quote summarizes the previous point stated, “Drug prohibitions
create opportunities for "drug crime" directly since the use or sale of illegal drugs is, by
definition, a crime. There are numerous reasons why drug prohibitions may be associated
with other crime as well” (Shepard 1). That theory basically implies that the banning of
marijuana basically also stimulates other factors of crime related to marijuana. For
example, if a person wished to purchase marijuana, but instead murdered a dealer for the
drug, the case would then transform into a homicide. If marijuana were theoretically
legal, perhaps the homicide wouldn’t have happened thus having no need to acquire
marijuana by a means of force. Of course anyone may decide to commit a crime
theoretically they need no incentive other than the desire to acquire it.
In areas where marijuana is legalized, normally these particular issues mentioned
within this paper do not exist. Take the country of Amsterdam for example. Although
Amsterdam is relatively small compared to the United States, it still completes the task of
regulating the circulation and use of marijuana extremely well. It is also incredibly well
enforced in that country so any individual who breaks the law on the country’s marijuana
policy is subject to punishment.
I bring up the area of Amsterdam because of their social climate in that area. In
Amsterdam, marijuana is treated as a recreational tool much like it is treated my many
people in the United States. The difference is in the different names people in the United
States goes about in dealing with the substance. The phrase dealing with the substance
refers to the idea that in Amsterdam marijuana can be acquired by legal means therefore
eliminating the need to deal the drug. It can simply be used as a recreational tool in
Amsterdam since it is legalized already; the competition is relatively high when it comes
to selling the drug, thus yielding low profits. In the United States however, the drug is
still illegal thus the only way of obtaining the substance is by purchasing it from a dealer
who probably bought it illegally. The main point here is that if marijuana was legalized
in the United States, it may bring down the black market for the drug because of the high
competition started by the legalized drug. This in turn will create a somewhat better
social climate by eliminating one of the previous illegalities that attract troubled youths.
Although the regulating of the United States would have to be different from
Amsterdam’s regulation system, it would still be a benefit to legalize marijuana in this
case as well.
Currently there are many movements for the legalization of marijuana in many
states. California had a ballot go up with proposition 19 which ultimately failed, but was
a sign that the youth of America certainly wanted marijuana legalization. Perhaps the
reason for the failure of the proposition also failed because in some parts of California it
is already a legal to cultivate marijuana if one is following regulation. (Ingold A15)
Proposition 19 also could have failed because the demographic which originally inspired
the ballot to be placed also happens to be a low turn up at the voting booths. Perhaps the
real only people that wish for marijuana to not be legalized are these people though.
Naturally if marijuana were to be legal nationwide or even in some other large states with
marijuana productivity, the competition would soar causing prices to drop and thus
ending an incredibly profit to cost ratio for cultivating the plant.
In the end, legalizing marijuana would indeed be useful for the major purpose of
economic benefits that this great nation truly needs. It also has the ability to lower crime
and can create a better social climate for youths and young adults who are introduced to
marijuana in a negative way, thus using them for unproductive effects. While the
benefits of marijuana are far and wide, legalization is apparently still an issue because
only a handful of states in the United States recognize it as a legal substance and even in
those areas the legality of marijuana is limited.
George Soros. "Why I Support Legal Marijuana. " Wall Street Journal 26
Oct. 2010, Eastern edition: ABI/INFORM Global, ProQuest. Web. 2 Nov. 2010.
John Ingold. "Clouded in controversy Legalized pot may offer a mixed bag Different
law enforcement policies, conflicting tax projections cloud picture in
California. " Denver Post 10 Oct. 2010,Accounting & Tax
Newspapers, ProQuest. Web. 2 Nov. 2010.
Klein, Joe. "It's High Time." Time 13 Apr. 2009: 19. Health Reference Center
Academic. Web. 4 Nov. 2010.
Shepard, Edward M., and Paul R. Blackley. "THE IMPACT OF MARIJUANA LAW
ENFORCEMENT IN AN ECONOMIC MODEL OF CRIME." Journal of Drug
Issues 37.2 (2007): 403-424. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 4 Nov.
Bottorff, Joan L., et al. "Relief-oriented use of marijuana by teens." Substance Abuse
Treatment, Prevention & Policy 4.(2009): 1-10. Academic Search Complete.
EBSCO. Web. 12 Nov. 2010.