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Brian Huang Prof. Jacobs English 110 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 irregular lifestyle. 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. Works Cited 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. 2010. 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.
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