The topic of legalizing marijuana has been a topic of controversy for quite some time now not only throughout our local streets, but throughout the local and into the state government. The legalization of marijuana is such a controversial topic because some are for it and some are against it. People are for the legalization because of the great uses it has towards medicine, the money that could come from the taxation of legalized marijuana, and the emptying of prisons because of the releases of marijuana offenses. The list could go on and on.
Other people are against the legalization because it is considered a “gateway drug”, or because the legalization of marijuana would eventually lead to the legalization of harder drugs such as heroine or cocaine. Despite the negative comments about the drug, marijuana should be legalized because it would give the U. S. a huge amount of money from the taxation and regulation of the drug, its uses would greatly impact our health throughout the medical field and throughout our own well being, and would help our fight with the war on drugs and our overcrowded prisons.
Marijuana has a pretty broad history throughout not only the United States, but also throughout China, Mexico, Europe, and many other countries throughout the world. According to Cannabis Now magazine, it is believed that marijuana reached North America with Christopher Columbus in 1492 A. D. and initially was only used to make industrial goods and didn’t become popular for its recreational use until the early 20th century (“History Of”).
From 1850 until 1942 marijuana was used and prescribed for multiple medical conditions including labor pains, nausea, and rheumatism. Marijuana is considered a mild hallucinogen with many short-term affects impacting mood, physical behavior, and neurological functioning such as euphoria, increased appetite, hallucinations, excitement, enhanced recollection, stress reduction, joviality, increased awareness of sensation, and creativity. Marijuana’s most active chemical compound is Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known and abbreviated as THC.
Marijuana at this time was not considered a threat, though marijuana was added to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 along with heroin and LSD, making it completely illegal (Narconon). If The U. S. legalized the use of marijuana, we would be creating millions of extra dollars just from taxing the drug. Caroline Fairchild explains to the Huffington Post that the federal legalization of marijuana would offer a huge amount of revenue. A study done in 2010 by Cato estimated that legalizing marijuana would create $8. billion in federal and state tax revenue annually.
Washington and Colorado are two states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana and both will be used to measure possible fiscal impacts. Washington estimates that the state will make an additional $1. 9 billion in revenue in five years because of the legalization of marijuana (Fairchild). This averages around $380 million a year, which could be a huge impact on the state of Washington. State and local governments will also be able to save billions that they spend trying to regulate marijuana use.
This extra money would greatly impact the United States and could create multiple new opportunities and advances for our country. The possible uses of marijuana towards the medical field are huge. According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Medical marijuana is legalized in 18 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, D. C. , Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
Another 10 states are considering legalizing medical marijuana. There are tens of thousands who could benefit from the usage of medicinal marijuana but aren’t allowed to because there are states that are against the legalization of the drug (NORML. org). ProCon. org states that eight of the ten states that had legalized medical marijuana by 2006 saw a decrease of teen use of marijuana from 1999-2006 and that a study conducted by UCLA found no association between marijuana and lung cancer, and suggested that marijuana may even have “some protective effect” (ProCon. org).
Medical marijuana can be used to treat many different illnesses such as chronic pain relief, nausea, cancer and chemotherapy, arthritis, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s, spasticity, glaucoma, and many movement disorders (NORML. org). In my opinion, it medical marijuana is a huge help to those that are in pain and suffering. The people I know that use medicinal marijuana say that it is a huge help to them because it literally takes the pain away and even though there are a lot of known chemicals in marijuana, it is still a plant, and it can be easily accessible to those in need.
Steven Kotler states that many medicinal marijuana users say that they prefer using marijuana rather than taking prescription drugs such as vicodin or morphine for their pain. This puts a damper into the pharmaceutical industries because if marijuana was fully legal for recreational use, many different pharma companies would be in competition with the plant because of all its medical uses. In 2009, the pharmaceutical market was worth $837 billion, and if all goes well, will top $1 trillion by 2014.
This could be lost with the legalization of medical marijuana (Kotler). The medical uses of marijuana continue to grow, and with more conducted research, medicinal marijuana will continue to become legal throughout the United States. Another use marijuana has towards our well being is its cousin, hemp. Hemp has no hallucinogenic or psychoactive relations to marijuana, but can be found throughout the stems of the cannabis plant and also as a totally separate plant. Hemp was useful for many things before it became illegal to grow in the United States.
Hemp has many uses in the industrial area, towards personal hygiene, and for building materials. Hemp can be used to make clothing, lotions, food and beverages, paper, building supplies, plastic, fuel, and chemical cleanup. Hemp is a very useful plant in many different areas, and because marijuana is illegal, hemp is illegal as well (McDermott). The legalization of marijuana would also greatly impact our prisons and war on drugs. In the last year, the population in America’s jails and prisons has grown to 6. 9 million inmates.
A study conducted in 1999 showed that 60,000 of those inmates were incarcerated because of marijuana use. Taxpayers spent around $1. 2 billion on these inmates, and if marijuana was legalized for recreational uses, taxpayers would save money, and people who are behind bars for marijuana use would be able to give their spot to somebody who is more violent and dangerous than a “pothead”. In total, prosecuting and policing of people who were in fact connected to marijuana in some way between $7 and $10 billion was spent towards this cause (Stevens).
If we could save that $7 to $10 billion for something other than marijuana convictions, we might in fact be able to save our country. In my opinion, our jails and prisons should be for people who commit serious offenses such as rape, robbery, and murder. Marijuana offenses should not be included in these. In the state of Michigan, possession of marijuana in any amount can have a consequence of 1 year of incarceration and up to a $2,000 fine and the sale of marijuana without remuneration can have a consequence of 1 year incarceration and up to a $1,000 fine.
Both of these penalties are misdemeanors. The cultivation of less than 20 plants is a felony and has consequences of 4 years incarceration and up to a $20,000 fine (NORML. org). This money to me could be spent towards someone who is out in our world murdering or raping. If marijuana was legalized, our country could worry about other serious crimes rather than somebody in possession of marijuana.
If marijuana was legalized throughout the United States we could not only create more money for our country, but also have many natural medical benefits and lessen our incarceration rates throughout our jails and prisons. This could mean more jobs for people throughout dispensaries and cultivation of the plant, and more focus on serious crimes and problems throughout our country rather than worrying about marijuana and the people who use it. I am all for the legalization of marijuana, and I do believe at some point throughout my life marijuana will become legal for recreational use.