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Why Marijuana Should Be Legalized? Essay Sample

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Why Marijuana Should Be Legalized? Essay Sample

Introduction

As the unending war on drug enters its third decades, there is little that has been achieved. The war on drug was forged by American president Ronald Regan but over three decades of using billions of taxpayers money the was is not over.  The public has become more skeptical on the achievement of the war. The only tangible results we have are increased rate of incarceration and proliferation of drugs on our streets.  This has promoted call for change of strategies that will ensure that effectiveness of the war on drugs.

This is perhaps the case with marijuana.  It has been one of the drugs attracting controversial views from the federal government which is determined to continue with its unending war on drug and the public on the other hand who feel that marijuana should not be counted as a poisonous drug since it has several medicinal uses.  The war on drugs is quite expensive and a lot of resources have been channeled towards the war. There is also additional cost that has been incurred in arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating individual who are suspected of marijuana offenses.  Apart from the cost factor, more than 70 years since the Marijuana act was enacted, there has been no progress in curbing the growth of the plant. Research has documented that close to half of American adults have tried marijuana in their life which shows that unlike the common conception, marijuana does not have adverse health effects. Therefore it is advisable for the government to legalize marijuana and like tobacco and alcohol, impose taxation measures which would see the government reap a lot.

The case for legalizing marijuana

Scientifically known as cannabis sativa, marijuana is a plant which is grown in various areas all over the world (Jerome, 1997, p. 10). However, marijuana is the term which is used to refer to the green, brown, or grey mixture of leafs, buds, seeds, and stalks of cannabis sativa plant.  Cannabis sativa is a wild plant which is also cultivated indoors throughout the world.  However, most of marijuana which is used in the United States is sourced from Mexico and Canada. Cannabis sativa contains a wide range of chemicals known as cannabinoids. It contains a high level of THC (delta-9-tetrhydrocannabinol) which is causes a psychoactive effects in the brain. THC is fund in different parts of the Cannabis sativa including hemp.  This may be the reason why hemp is regulated in product like clothing, rope, lotions, soap and others to prevent it from entering the body.  (Grossman, 2004, p. 25)

However, a turning point in use of marijuana came in 1937 when The Marijuana Tax Act was passed.  Coincidentally, this act came into force when the decorticator machine was invented (Booth, 2005, p. 9).  It is believed that   this invention would lead to hemp overcoming other competing industries.  One of the lords, William Herst is believed to have owned thousand of acres of forest and he campaigned vigorously to prevent growth marijuana since his interest was threatened by the emerging acreages of marijuana (Rasmussen and Benson, 2004, p.  240).  This was because competition from Marijuana would have easily pushed Hearst out of paper manufacturing business and at the same time lowers the cost of land.  Another individual who vigorously campaigned to end marijuana was DuPonts who had been patented with the production of sulphuric acid which was used in paper manufacturing process. Therefore we find that those who campaigned to enact marijuana law were doing so in order to protect their business interest and not for any negative side effects that have been singled out in Marijuana. (Caulkins and MacCoun, 2005, p.  111)

There are different reasons why this paper feels that marijuana should be legalized. Let us review some of those reasons:

(i) Liberty – freedom to make choice

The major reasons why marijuana should be legalized is based on the premise that the government does not have any good reason why it has such strict laws on marijuana.   Our main concerns should be why marijuana should be illegal in the first place. There is no good reason that has been advanced by the government except for the claim that long use of marijuana may lead to addiction (Moffat, 2009).    Does it mean tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine does not lead to addiction? The fact is that the government does not have a reason why marijuana is illegalized.

Arguing from a philosophical point of view, everyone has the right o mark their choices.  The government should not be making choices for individuals by preventing them from using marijuana (Jerome, 1997, p. 90).  The right of the government through the constitution is to limit individual choices in cases there is threat of an individual endangering the life of the other person.  Any person who decides to use marijuana acts out of their free will and this may only be limited by the government if the actions of the person threatens the life of other people.  However, this philosophy has not been employed in marijuana like it is employed in alcohol and other addictive drugs. We can cite a case of selective justice because marijuana has been found even less addictive when compared to alcohol and other others (Moffat, 2009).

 (ii) Increased cost

The cost of fighting marijuana is more than approximated by the most official statistics.  The marijuana sector of the U.S drug war has seen an annual increase in the cost compared to other sectors of the war on drugs. According to the recent estimates marijuana war on drugs is now totaling more than $11 billions. Since 1970s, there has been an increase in the number of arrest in the United States. By 2008, there were more than 2.3 million inmates which is the highest number of incarcerates in any country in world. However, this high number of incarceration has been blamed on faulty sentencing system which sends petty drug offenders for long prison sentences (Pacula et al., 2000, p. 65).

The misconceptions in the legal system about the negative effects of marijuana have led to increased arrest of marijuana offenders greatly increasing the number of inmates in our correction system. According to the Uniform Crime Report figures released in 2006, Marijuana arrest constitutes more than 44% of the total number of drug offenders.  In 2006 alone, there were more than 829,625 offenders who were arrested on marijuana charges.  This figure was a 15% increase in the number of arrests made in 2005. Among those arrested, nine out of every ten were arrested for being in possession of the drug.  Since 1990, there are more than 10 million Americans who have been arrested for marijuana related charges. This number of arrest was however rampant on the young people with 75 percent of the total arrests aged below 30 years of age (Johnston et al., 2004, p. 40).

Despite the rising case of marijuana arrests, research show that there has been continued use of marijuana in the United States.  In 2002, a CNN survey found out that more than 47% of all American adults had tried marijuana.  At the same time this survey revealed that the number of individual using marijuana had increased to 15 million and recent statistics could reveal a higher figure than this. This is one of the cases that can be used against the misconception that a puff of marijuana leads to detrimental mental effects. If 47% of Americans adult have ever tried marijuana in their life, then there is no reason why United States should be a country of lunatics (Marijuana Legalization Organization, 2002).

Since 1937 when the Marijuana Act came to force, hundreds of billions of taxpayer money have been spent in enforcing the provision of the act. This money could have been used in provision of other essential services to American people. In essence this money could be used to enhance research on the medicinal value of Marijuana or channeled towards provision of medical service to Americans.  Faulty conceptions which emanate from the individual interest that led to the enactment of Marijuana Act has therefore led to loss of hundred of billions of taxpayers money (Pacula et al., 2000, p. 25). It is time that the government realizes that marijuana is a part of our culture.

The way it has put in place measure to control the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs through taxiing mechanism should be the same way it should deal with cases of marijuana (Moffat, 2009). The United States treasury through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms should ensure that it puts in place tax measures that will tax marijuana like another drug. Instead of vilifying and criminalizing producers, sellers and the users of marijuana ATF should institute taxation measures that will control the marijuana business in the United States.  Legalizing marijuana and imposing taxes on it will therefore add government revenues and at the same save a lot of its revenues which are directed towards enforcement of marijuana laws (Moffat, 2009).

(iii) Alteration of consciousness

Apart from this, the increased use of marijuana in the population can no longer be described as a youthful fad. Smoking of marijuana is no longer one of those behaviors which are committed by juveniles but it is being taken more serious by Americans including adult.  There is a clear illustration that adults have a growing desire to stretch their consciousness. Most of them have discovered that the most inexpensive way to achieve this is through the use of marijuana (Marijuana Legalization Organization, 2002).

Research has indicated that you just need to use marijuana in the right way in order to achieve the required alteration of the consciousness (Moffat, 2009).  With the correct use of marijuana, there is very little risk of health complications and at the same time this alteration of consciousness does not lead to development of any antisocial behavior.  It is time our authority wakes up to the hard reality that marijuana has grown to be a part of our culture and we cannot wipe is out through mere incarcerations.

(iv) Prohibition of marijuana has not helped

 After 70 years of lobbying since the enactment of 1937 enactment of Marijuana Act, there are major steps that have been made to reduce that rate of marijuana. Government effort has also been reinforced in the 1980s war on drugs but the rate of use of marijuana has increased steadily (Doorenbos et al., 1971, p. 29).  The main argument here is that for all that time, the prohibition has not helped the country in any way except for the billions of public funds that have been used on the war on drugs. There is no reason that can support the fact that prohibition is effective in the reduction of drug use. However, there are several theories which show that prohibition increases the use of drug.  For example the forbidden fruit effects, easier accessibility for youth, and others have been shown to increase the rate of drug use (Marijuana Legalization Organization, 2002).  This means that if the goal of the government is to reduce the level of drug use, then it should be the alcohol and cigarette way. All we have stuck with is DARE which spread malicious lies about drugs and the problem that are associated with the drugs.  Seventy years of campaign have not helped to deal with the problem and this call for change of tactics (Pacula et al., 2000, p. 48).

(iv) Medicinal value

The American Medical Association has in many instances tried to argue that there are known medicinal benefits of marijuana.  Compared to other drugs, marijuana is quite safe. It is even safer than alcohol, cigarettes, and some over-the-counter drugs.  Traditionally, marijuana has been used in its low form as a beneficial medicinal herb to man.   Let us review the following data on the causes of deaths by different drugs from the United States government statistic on drug abuse. (Pacula et al., 2000, p. 45)

Drug                          Deaths

Tobacco                      400,000

Alcohol                      100,000

All legal drugs                         20,000

Caffeine                         2,000

Aspirin                               500

Marijuana                              0

From the above statistics we can see that marijuana is relatively safe but only when used within the safe range. These statistics reveal that there is no one individual who has ever been reported dead from the use of marijuana.  This  clearly shows that marijuana is safe when compared to other drugs which have been legalized by the government and it presents a strong case why there is need to reform the marijuana laws in the country. (Moffat, 2009)

The medicinal effects of marijuana overlap closely with its enhancement of conscious well alteration and well being.  These two functions have been closely associated with the recreation aspect of the drug.  This means that marijuana leads to enhancement of strength, worth, beauty, and other desirable qualities ranging from food, sexy, to creativity and enhanced appreciation of the natural world.  In the recent decades, there has been increased appreciation of the important medicinal role of marijuana. More than twelve states have now moved to put in place legislations which are recognizing the medicinal role of marijuana.  On the other hand the federal government insists that marijuana has no medicinal value and has continued with its merciless crackdown on patients, doctors and other individuals who are involved in growing, distribution and use of marijuana (Jerome, 1997, p. 71).

 There are millions of people in the world who have shared their medical experience with marijuana. Most of them have asserted that marijuana is more effective that most convention drugs. It is less toxic with little side effects yet individuals usually get the desired results (Marijuana Legalization Organization, 2002).   It is also less expensive since it can be found naturally. Despite the instance by the federal government that marijuana is a poison, a number of states have moved to put in place legislations and other initiatives which will decriminalize marijuana and lower sentence for those individual arrested with small quantities of the drug. It is time the federal government also recognizes the medicinal value of the drug and changes the existing laws in order to encourage the increased use of marijuana.

Conclusion

Since 1937 when the Marijuana Act was enacted, the rate of use of marijuana has continued to rise. Even with the initiative of war on drug in 1980s, the use of marijuana has not been reduced.  This means that for more than 70 years, we have been fighting endless war on marijuana.  It is time the government changes its strategies on marijuana and legalizes marijuana like it has been done on tobacco and alcohol. Instead of banning marijuana, the government should legalize and collect taxes from marijuana and channel this money to other important sectors of the economy. Marijuana is not addictive compared to alcohol and other drugs and in addition it used as a medicine in many parts of the world. We all have the right to make choices and legalization marijuana will empower people to make their own choices regarding marijuana. The government should therefore review the Marijuana act and legalize it.

References:

Booth, M. (2005). Cannabis: A History. Oxford University

 Caulkins, J. & MacCoun, R. (2005). Analyzing  illicit drug markets. The Law and Economics of Irrational Behavior, Vol. 315

  Doorenbos, Norman J., Patricia S. Fetterman, Maynard W. Quimby, & Carlton, T. (1971). Cultivation, extraction, and analysis of Cannabis sativa L. Annals New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 191: 3-14.

Grossman,  M,  (2004). Individual Behaviors and Substance Use: The Role of Price. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research

Jerome, K. P. (1997). Federal foolishness and marijuana. New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 336: 366-367

Johnston, D., O’Malley,  M., Bachman, G., Schulenberg, E. (2004). Monitoring the future. National Survey on Drug Use, Vol. 1

Marijuana Legalization Organization, (2002). Why marijuana should be legal. Retrieved 12th February 2009 from http://www.mjlegal.org/essayspeech.html

Moffat, M. (2009). Should government legalize and tax marijuana? Retrieved 12th February 2009 from http://economics.about.com/od/incometaxestaxcuts/a/marijuana.htm

Pacula, L., Grossman, M., Chaloupka, J., O’Malley, M., Johnston, D., Farrelly, C. (2000). Marijuana and Youth.  Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research

Rasmussen, W. & Benson, L.  (2004). The economic anatomy of the war on drug. Rowman and Littlefield

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