Legalization of Marijuana


Though some people may abuse the drug, marijuana should be legalized because of the benefits the drug offers to many others. There are medical benefits to marijuana use such as for cancer patients, people infected with AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and epileptics. The physical effects of marijuana use are relatively harmless. The government could make a significant profit by taxing marijuana if the drug was legalized and possibly diminish the drug dealers business. By decriminalizing the drug, the government would also save money because the United States spends millions of dollars to enforce marijuana laws.

Marijuana has been around for thousands of years. The drug has been known to treat ailments since 3000 B.C. such as constipation, whooping cough, rheumatic pains, malaria, and absent-mindedness, to induce sleep and to lower fevers. The drug was introduced to the United States in the early 1920’s by Mexican immigrants. Today, medical marijuana is used for glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and used to help those with AIDS and individuals who are undergoing chemotherapy.” 78 % of cancer patients claim smoking marijuana –unlike any other drugs--helped stop the nausea which is accompanied by chemotherapy”. (Stiefel, C. Marijuana on the ballot February 21, 1997) The cannabis plant helps to encourage their appetite despite the queasiness that comes with these therapies.

Condition
Cancer Chemotherapy
Vomiting and nausea

AIDS-related wasting
Stimulates appetite
Multiple sclerosis/ Epilepsy
Reduces muscle spasms
Glaucoma
Reduces fluid pressure build up

Patients with glaucoma, an eye disease, say marijuana has prevented them from going blind by reducing fluid pressure in their eyes. Some people say marijuana prevents epileptic seizures; reduces migraine headache pain; and alleviates the muscular tremors and paralysis of multiple sclerosis. (Stiefel, C. Marijuana on the ballot February 21, 1997) Doctors presently prescribe drugs that are known to be highly addictive and potentially harmful such as Morphine, OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet and some anti-depressants.

Medical marijuana is one of the most broadly supported issues in the drug policy reform. In 1976, the U.S. federal government created the Investigational New Drug (IND) compassionate access program and granted the first of 12 patients the right to use "medical marijuana" as part of a clinical research program. The first state to legalize marijuana for medical use in 1978 was New Mexico. The federal government later approved synthetic THC (Marinol) as prescription medication in 1985. During 1989-1991 individuals with severe illnesses (several with AIDS) flood the United States government with requests to be apart the medical marijuana program. A 1990 survey concluded that 44 % of cancer doctors recommended marijuana to at least one of their patients. However, the program ended in 1992 due to being inundated by applicants; currently there are only seven patients, who can legally use marijuana through the federal program, (Stiefel, C. Marijuana on the ballot February 21, 1997). While the majority of states in the U.S. oppose, there are 11 states that have legally recognized medical marijuana use for their citizens, including: Alaska, Hawaii, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Colorado, Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island.
Marijuana was first used as a pleasure-inducing drug in the United States in 1900. Marijuana continues to be the most common illegal drug in the United States; the drug has been illegal to sell, grow, or have in possession since 1937. Unlike legal drugs like tobacco and alcohol, marijuana contains an ingredient that produces euphoria. In passing the Controlled Substances Act, the United States Congress classified marijuana a high potential for abuse in 1970. However, marijuana use did not decline. Recreational marijuana use continued to spread and became one of the most prevalent drugs in the America, only second to alcohol. Marijuana is easily accessible in the streets and known as reefer, bud, weed, grass, pot, and maryjane. In the last fifteen years, the number of teens who anticipate trying marijuana has doubled. On 1995, 20 %of 8th graders, 34% of 10th graders and 42 % of 12th graders said they had smoked marijuana. It is understood that we do not want our children to abuse this “therapeutic” drug, so we, as the adults should enforce the situation the same way we address alcohol and tobacco products.

Many American citizens are concerned that marijuana will be abused if legalized. It is speculated that marijuana may be a gateway drug to other drugs. There has never been substantial evidence of anyone overdosing or dying from use of the drug. Some marijuana users consume the drug to relieve stress or tension. Though the physical effects of marijuana use are moderately harmless, some individuals argue smoking marijuana is likely to generate more health problems than one already has. The cannabis plant is classified a psychoactive drug but has not been proven to be a lethal drug. Marijuana use has been linked to distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, and touch), memory loss, loss of coordination, trouble with concentration, increased heart rate, reduced blood pressure and some say marijuana smoke contains more cancer-causing chemicals than cigarette smoke. Some studies show that THC may even damage the immune cells that help fight diseases. While there are various side effects to marijuana, consider the alternative with other “therapeutic” drugs such as alcohol or tobacco users. Alcohol has been linked to numerous violent crimes, while marijuana users are usually more tranquil. There are some adverse results that are very significant; however, there are adverse results to just about everything in today’s society.

The Marijuana Policy Project is a nationwide organization that works to decriminalize marijuana. The organization is the largest marijuana policy reform in the United States. The Marijuana Policy Project deems that the greatest damage correlated with marijuana is imprisonment. The projects’ main emphasis is to remove the criminal penalties for marijuana use, with a particular prominence on making marijuana medically available to terminally ill people who have the approval of their doctors.

Legalizing marijuana could save the U.S. government money and generate money as well. Prohibition of marijuana is extremely costly to our country. The government spends an estimated $7.7 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition because an extensive amount of resources are required to apprehend those individuals who buy or sell illegal drugs, prosecuting them in court, and housing them in jail. A marijuana user is arrested approximately every 36 seconds. John Walters, the White House drug czar has a yearly advertising budget of $60 million, which he uses for the most part to run anti-marijuana advertisement campaigns. Decriminalizing marijuana would save the American taxpayers a tremendous amount of money, to the tune of a projected $44 billion every fiscal year.
Miron, Jeffrey A. Costs of Marijuana Prohibition: Economic Analysis Table 2: Expenditures Attributable to Marijuana Prohibition ($ in millions) (2003)
Police Budget Judicial Budget Corrections Budget Total
State Total: MJ Prohib: Total MJ Prohib: Total MJ Prohib. Total MJ Prohib.
Alabama 656 18.28 262 28.56 404 4.04 1,322 51
Alaska 177 3.61 130 14.17 175 1.75 482 20
Arizona 1096 33.79 611 66.60 955 9.55 2,662 110
Arkansas 351 6.99 156 17.00 328 3.28 835 27
California 8703 227.97 6255 681.80 7170 71.70 22,128 981
Colorado 830 19.48 329 35.86 820 8.20 1,979 64
Connecticut 682 19.25 430 46.87 554 5.54 1,666 72
Delaware 166 4.82 90 9.81 228 2.28 484 17
Florida 3738 103.19 1396 152.16 3272 32.72 8,406 288
Georgia 1279 48.38 525 57.23 1375 13.75 3,179 119
Hawaii 222 2.49 180 19.62 153 1.53 555 24
Idaho 207 4.61 102 11.12 191 1.91 500 18
Illinois 3053 84.28 961 104.75 1763 17.63 5,777 207
Indiana 843 28.25 325 35.43 727 7.27 1,895 71
Iowa 426 13.44 253 27.58 298 2.98 977 44
Kansas 430 12.26 206 22.45 349 3.49 985 38
Kentucky 488 19.78 290 31.61 610 6.10 1,388 57
Louisiana 829 27.89 359 39.13 780 7.80 1,968 75
Maine 164 6.31 69 7.52 123 1.23 356 15
Maryland 1120 39.68 489 53.30 1104 11.04 2,713 104
Massachusetts 1479 53.98 628 68.45 795 7.95 2,902 130
Michigan 1792 40.62 905 98.65 1853 18.53 4,550 158
Minnesotta 874 37.18 442 48.18 591 5.91 1,907 91
Mississippi 404 12.03 154 16.79 292 2.92 850 32
Missouri 886 21.79 359 39.13 627 6.27 1,872 67
Montana 136 1.02 66 7.19 125 1.25 327 9
Nebraska 235 8.98 96 10.46 231 2.31 562 22
Nevada 539 10.32 248 27.03 471 4.71 1,258 42
New Hampshire 187 8.84 92 10.03 115 1.15 394 20
New Jersey 2231 78.52 948 103.33 1480 14.80 4,659 197
New Mexico 382 6.12 167 18.20 315 3.15 864 27.47
New York 5717 274.42 2262 246.56 4392 43.92 12,371 564.90
North Carolina 1318 33.03 470 51.23 1159 11.59 2,947 95.85
North Dakota 68 1.43 55 6.00 40 0.40 163 7.82 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              00 40 0.40 163 7.82      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Ohio 2124 58.03 1158 126.22 1937 19.37 5,219 203.63
Oklahoma 518 21.53 193 21.04 511 5.11 1,222 47.68
Oregon 696 15.23 356 38.80 747 7.47 1,799 61.50
Pennsylvania 2220 59.82 1067 116.30 2221 22.21 5,508 198.33
Rhode Island 211 8.23 105 11.45 139 1.39 455 21.06
South Carolina 653 28.79 179 19.51 559 5.59 1,391 53.89
South Dakota 88 2.91 40 4.36 81 0.81 209 8.08
Tennessee 940 36.47 399 43.49 604 6.04 1,943 86.00
Texas 3204 88.47 1355 147.70 3755 37.55 8,314 273.71
Utah 381 7.30 202 22.02 351 3.51 934 32.83
Vermont 78 1.69 39 4.25 66 0.66 183 6.60
Virginia 1176 31.08 513 55.92 1246 12.46 2,935 99.46
Washington 1007 26.66 470 51.23 1053 10.53 2,530 88.42
West Virginia 171 5.17 108 11.77 184 1.84 463 18.79
Wisconsin 1124 0.13 440 47.96 1030 10.30 2,594 58.39
Wyoming 99 2.83 50 5.45 98 0.98 247 9.26
56,398 1,707.41 26,984 2941.26 48447 484.47 131,829 5,133

Arrest Data: http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/collections/stats/crime/ Judicial Percent: Pastore and Maguire (2003), Table 5.42, p.444
Budget Data: http://www.census.gov/govs/www/state00.html Incarceration Percent: Pastore and Maguire (2003), Table 6.30, p.499

Taxing marijuana like alcohol or tobacco would produce an expected $37 billion in tax proceeds. In the year 2008, at least 41% of Americans support legalizing marijuana according to a poll given by Zogby International. Many individuals believe legalizing marijuana could be very beneficial to the public. A score of people are certain that this drug has countless medical and economical advantages, as well as the decline in the occurrence of crime. It is deemed by many that the numerous benefits of marijuana clearly outweigh the risks associated with marijuana use. Those that oppose the legalization of marijuana refuse to embrace the therapeutic gains of its use, yet they are rampant to accept other legal narcotics that are known to be highly addictive with dangerous side effects.

The disadvantages of legalizing marijuana include the battle of keeping the “herb” out of our youths’ hands, basically the same issue we have with alcohol and tobacco products. Opposers argue that marijuana use initiates the use of other drugs that may be harsher and more severe. These conservatives also expect that legalizing marijuana will encourage an epidemic in usage. Smoking marijuana in general may warrant health issues. Alcohol warrants health issues. Tobacco warrants health issues. Individuals that do not wish to consume alcohol or tobacco products do not do so. An adult should be allowed to make the decision on whether they choose to use this therapeutic plant or not.
Millions of adult Americans use marijuana regularly because they find it helps to ease their pains or helps them to relax after a stressful day. A controlled marijuana market would better defend their health and be much safer than the unfettered black market. Though marijuana is legal in other countries, the plant remains the second most prevalent drug in America whether used by the terminally ill, or by those individuals looking to indulge into one of life’s sweetest pleasures. Decriminalizing marijuana is not necessarily excusing or supporting marijuana use but instead recognizing the communal authenticity of its presence.

References
Facts about marijuana seeds, legalizing marijuana, growing cannabis leaf, www.marijuanahydro.com 1996
Hammer, J. The war over weed., Newsweek, Vol. 131, Issue 11 March 16, 1995
McMurray, C. Medicinal Marijuana: Is It What the Doctor Ordered? Gallup Poll Tuesday Briefing, p1-2, 2p December 16, 2003
Miron, Jeffrey A. Costs of Marijuana Prohibition: Economic Analysis www.prohibitioncosts.org/mironreport.html June 2005
Silverberg, D. Arresting the Drug Laws. Progressive, Vol. 69 Issue 8, p33-33, 1p August 2005
Stiefel, C. Marijuana on the ballot.
Science World, Vol. 53 Issue 10, p8, 3p, 2 color; February 21, 1997

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