When we hear the word “Marijuana”, a very negative feeling about it gets into our nerves. We think about how dangerous and harmful it is and how it should be avoided at all costs. News around us paints a very grim picture of cannabis. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There is more exposed lie than truth surrounding the control and use of marijuana.
This paper explores some of the reasons why Marijuana should be made a legal drug. In real sense, the drug should be made available to its users. This drug has more benefits than harm both to individuals who use it and authorities. It is my opinion that its open usage be encouraged due to the following facts:
Freedom: Need for free will
The most important reason why marijuana needs legality is that it enhances people’s ability to exercise their free will and freedom. It is pointless to lock the potential of people to think and act their own way. The liberty of the mind creates great pleasure and leads to ultimate achievement in life.
Some of the greatest inventions and technological advances that have been made in the past and present world are as a result of personal liberty. From a philosophical point of view, people have the right to choose what is right for themselves. Authorities can only regulate such choices when it negatively impacts others. The use of marijuana does not even affect an immediate person because it is all about free will and not a communal undertaking.
The government may also decide to watch an individual’s action if the latter may threaten personal safety. However this argument does not apply to marijuana bearing in mind that we have other drugs that are more lethal such as tobacco and alcohol. I strongly assert that governments should allow people to have the freedom of choice as far as the use of marijuana is concerned.
Increased crime rate
Think of this situation of a young impressible man who is eager to earn some cash and pay for his college tuition fees. He is being underpaid and overworked and therefore he can sufficiently cater living costs. To make matters worse, he cannot even afford decent housing and he is compelled to live in a ghetto. Then an opportunity strikes. He is offered a short errand to transport marijuana from one point to another in return for a good pay.
Unfortunately he is busted by authorities, arrested, prosecuted and sentenced in a long term jail. While in prison he is hardened up when he has to defend himself against rude inmates. After serving his sentence, he emerges out there as a hard core criminal now that he is strapped out of cash. Legalizing marijuana would eliminate such temptation of initiating good characters into real crime.
Cost: Illegalizing marijuana is expensive
The other vital argument why this drug should be legalized is that governments would save huge sums of money which is usually spent on the war and campaign against it. Peaceful people who are just exercising their character are hunted down by governments through arrests and prosecutions.
Above that, sensitizing people through awareness campaigns only equates to heavy spending and overloading the tax payer. It is my humble opinion that the billions of dollars being spent on the war against marijuana should be diverted to more useful projects like feeding the less fortunate in the society.
Banning the use of marijuana has never helped its eradication. The control, usage and domestic production of this harmless drug is a long process. For instance, it is widely accepted for use by most age groups ranging from teenagers to older adults. It is now used by over twenty five million people annually (Drug reporter, 2007).
Cannabis is currently the largest cash crop in the United States and marijuana is grown all over the planet. Those who purports that it will soon be faced out from consumption are ridiculing themselves. Prohibition has been an exercise in futility; users can only be educated and treated where necessary.
This plant is a useful naturally occurring resource that can be made utilized in industry or for agricultural purposes. It is not the same as marijuana (Mikos, 2009). Therefore the myth surrounding hemp plant would be eliminated if cannabis was legally recognized. Billions of dollars have been lost for ages because the hemp plant has been thought to be marijuana.
It is well understood that different religions have their unique practices. For example, Christianity and Judaism instruct their followers to take wine on certain occasions. Hindus, Buddhists, Rastafarians among others use this drug as part of their religious ceremonies. All these religious groups practice their freedom of conscience which according to me is justified. Why then should we not just legalize marijuana instead ignoring the reality and facts about it?
Controlling drug traffickers
Legalizing marijuana can help control hundreds of gangs who form cartels to traffic drugs. Such illegal groupings would be put out of business and instead the incumbent governments would channel money lost through drug cartels to public coffers. This would translate to a big economic gain.
There was a lot of wrongly propagated information in the 1930’s about cannabis sativa as it is scientifically known. A famous film called “Reefer Madness” aired from 1937 which showed “violent narcotic’s … soul destroying effects on unwary teens” (Reefer Madness).The continued negative news on marijuana compelled the United States Congress to pass a Marijuana Tax Act in 1938.However, this was just a federal law passed and would have no global consequence on its use.
Moreover, many are still reluctant towards legalizing marijuana .On the contrary, the overwhelming research done on health impacts of this drug does not give a thorough conclusion and any bad effects resulting from it is considered negligible. I suppose the authorities should put in place similar if not the same regulations as those of alcohol or tobacco regarding control and usage of cannabis.
Some reason out that the drug is addictive. This is misleading. A report from Addiction Research Centre and another one from the University of California compared the following drugs addiction level: heroin, cocaine, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and marijuana (Dubner, 2007). Nicotine was found to be most addictive of the drugs under study while marijuana had the lowest addictive level. This further confirms the ill-propagated information about marijuana.
Other critics who are still against this move of legalizing marijuana point out that it is an entry point to more harmful and life-endangering drugs. I do not agree with this. A research study in 2002 in United States revealed that an up surging seventy seven per cent of students had attempted to smoke marijuana but seventy four per cent had not consumed it the previous year and that this did not lead to the use of the so called dangerous drug, marijuana.
Legalizing it seems to be a difficult step to undertake but those reasons outweighs by far the fear behind making it legal. Proquest’s article “Marijuana Legalization Timeline” states that the United States Government Accountability Office reports that drug cartels from Mexico earned up to twenty three billion dollars from selling drugs just in the year 2008.If this and many other governments would legalize marijuana, then such huge amounts of money would not go to waste.
Another worthy benefit why it should be legalized would be the returns accrued from decimalization. Most countries in the world today suffer from huge cost in prosecuting and penalizing drug related offenders. James Gray, a presiding judge in Orange County Superior Court asserted that the California state would save up to one billion dollars a year if offenders who do not cause violence are not prosecuted and imprisoned.
Back in 2005, Jeffrey Allen Miron carried out a study which showed that about six billion and two hundred million dollars would be realized annually if marijuana were taxed equally as alcohol and tobacco (Budgetary implications of marijuana, 2009).
The article “Budgetary implications of Marijuana in the United States,” stated that the economic rewards from making marijuana legal led to increasing call by over five hundred economists including Nobel prize winner Milton Friedman to legalize marijuana (Budgetary implications of marijuana, 2009)
As the world is facing a harsh economic downturn, individual governments should strive to look for any means to boost their economies. I believe one way of achieving this is by legalizing cannabis.
The medical benefits of marijuana are numerous and cannot be exhausted. The “Legalization of Marijuana Info” article affirms that no one has ever passed away from marijuana usage. Tobacco is more dangerous. Cannabis can replace ten to twenty per cent of recommended drugs currently in use (Growing Marijuana Seeds).
A paper written by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that THC is the active ingredient in marijuana. It enhances appetite, glaucoma and pain, spastic muscles from MS, nausea and wasting from AIDS. These are medical advantages that cannot be obtained from any other plant. Even as scientists strive to research on better drugs for prescriptions, marijuana is a vital herb that can be put into use (Robins, 1995).
The American Academy of Family Physicians, American Public Health association, New England Journal of Medicine and American Medical Association (Prohibitioncosts.org) support legalizing of marijuana. All these accredited organizations cannot be wrong. At present, some American states permit the buying of marijuana by prescription. However, the Federal law overrides that of the states and one can still be arrested for consuming medicinal marijuana (Clements, Lan & Zhao, 2010).
Overwhelming Public support
Most United States of America citizens have “approval for medical use…alongside criticism of prohibition”(Karl 2009).The report from Washing post adds that “the same day they rejected a gay marriage ballot measure, residents of Maine voted overwhelmingly to allow the sale of medical marijuana …”.This is a clear pointer that it is high time marijuana was legalized. It has a general public acceptance.
In summing up, it is imperative to reiterate that cannabis relieves stress. Moreover, it is not a fatal drug since its effects are very mild. The medical merits are many as already discussed in the essay. If it is legally accepted, it would reduce crime rate and in turn strengthen economies. Those who think that marijuana should be banned for whatever reasons should understand the fact that such reasons are far much weak compared to the outstanding benefits of legalizing it.
Budgetary implications of marijuana (2009).Prohibitioncosts. Retrieved 03 November 2011 from http://www.prohibitioncosts.org
Clements, K. W., Lan, Y., & Zhao, X. (2010). The demand for marijuana, tobacco and alcohol: Inter-commodity interactions with uncertainty. Empirical Economics, 39(1), 203-239.
Drug reporter (2007).The top ten reasons why marijuana should be legal. Retrieved on 03 November 2011from http://www.alternet.org/drugreporter/60959/
Dubner, Stephen. (2007). Legalization of Marijuana. Retrieved 03 November, 2011 from http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/ 2007/..
Karl, Vick. (2009). Support for legalizing marijuana grows rapidly around U.S. Retrieved 03 November, 20011 from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp- dyn/content/article
Mikos, R. A. (2009). On the limits of supremacy: Medical marijuana and the states’ overlooked power to legalize federal crime. Vanderbilt Law Review, 62(5), 1419-1482.
Robins, L. N. (1995). Editorial: The natural history of substance use as a guide to setting drug policy. American Journal of Public Health, 85(1), 12.