The issue of marijuana legalization is one that has weighed on the minds of legislators and marijuana supporters ever since its prohibition. There are many heated arguments on one side of the other, and the issue is extremely controversial. Some say that it is an immoral drug that leads people to a life of crime; others say that marijuana can be medically beneficial to you, and that its prohibition brings about greater crime. In this essay, the legalization of marijuana will be supported, as marijuana does not conclusively cause any harmful effects, and it can severely diminish law enforcement expenses.
Marijuana was first banned in 1937 with the passing of the Marijuana Transfer Tax Act. Since that time, marijuana has been illegal, with the sale or purchase of cannabis making someone subject to a hefty fine and possibly jail time. However, a growing legalization movement has been making strides toward lobbying for legalization, California making the first step toward making it legal to sell marijuana for medicinal purposes. Many other countries in the world have legalized marijuana, including the Netherlands, Peru, and Spain under certain conditions.
There are many detractors to marijuana legalization; opposing arguments include the concept that marijuana serves as a gateway drug to harder drugs, such as cocaine or heroin. To others, the symptoms of marijuana use (sluggishness, slow response time) make it far too easy for people to place themselves in danger, especially in a motor vehicle. Also, there are many who believe that marijuana causes harmful effects and is addictive, as with any other drug. They see the selling and usage of marijuana as a criminal act, and as such the perpetrators should be punished.
On the contrary, legalization of marijuana use can actually curtail crime as opposed to encourage it. Due to its illegal status, the only way that people can get marijuana is through criminal means – getting involved with drug dealers who often smuggle it into the country, and have other markets and criminal pursuits besides marijuana smuggling. As a result, it often leads normally well-adjusted people to a life of crime simply because they want to smoke pot. If marijuana were legalized, there would be a safe, legal means through which those who wanted marijuana would get it. It would lead to fewer instances of desperate people stealing and getting involved with the wrong people, which could lead to violence and death, in order to get their weed. (Soros 2010)
Another reason to legalize marijuana is that, not only is it not addictive and harmful to your body, it can actually provide medicinal benefits. Medical marijuana is used for all manner of aches and pains, as well as relief from illnesses such as glaucoma. There are even studies to show that the use of marijuana improves the health and well-being of those suffering from HIV and AIDS, as well as cancer and multiple sclerosis. (Fogarty et al. 2007) What’s more, there are no conclusive studies that state any health detriments that occur solely because of the use of marijuana, provided it is used in moderation (as with any other drug). As a result, since it is not harmful, it should not be illegal to purchase and use.
The final point is that the legalization of marijuana would significantly reduce law enforcement costs and make the justice system more effective. There is already overcrowding in prisons, and it has been shown that people who are imprisoned for lighter sentences can, following a prison stay, be more likely to move on to more violent crimes. The prison culture forces them to become violent in order to fit in, and consequently those habits can continue into the future. Legalizing marijuana would prevent people whose only crime was buying, selling or using it from going to prison and ceasing to be a productive member of society.
What’s more, law enforcement officers could be spared substantial time and effort chasing down marijuana users and sellers, and their resources and time could be better spent taking down violent criminals and those who actively cause harm to others. The cost to the taxpayer would be much less, as they would not be paying for more people to be jailed and imprisoned. (Soros 2010) There would be legal routes to satisfy disputes between seller and buyer, and the FDA could regulate the quality of marijuana to ensure its safety.
Based on the evidence and logic presented in this essay, marijuana should be made a legal drug. The only reasons for marijuana still being prohibited are superstition and competition from powerful tobacco lobbies – they fear that the increase of marijuana smoking would substantially cut into their cigarette profits. The legalization of marijuana would provide medicinal help to those who need it, save substantial taxpayer money in law enforcement and incarceration costs, and keep those who just seek marijuana from a life of crime. There are no ill effects to using marijuana, despite claims to the contrary; therefore, there is no logical reason to keep it illegal. If marijuana were made illegal, a lot of problems with the justice system and the economy could be improved.
Thesis: Medical marijuana has no recorded addictive or ill effects on the body, and as such should be legalized to reduce illegal sale.
Background Info – Medical marijuana is legal in California and other countries throughout the world
Opposing thoughts – Marijuana has unforeseen addictive and harmful effects, could be a gateway drug to harder drugs
Reason 1 – Reducing Crime
Reason 2 – Medicinal Uses
Reason 3 – Reduce Law Enforcement Costs
Recommendation – Legalizing medical marijuana
Restate Argument – would cut down on law enforcement costs and reduce crime; is not harmful to the body
S. Kippax, et al. “Marijuana as therapy for people living with HIV/AIDS: Social and health
aspects.” AIDS Care 19.2 (2007): 295-301. Academic Search Alumni Edition. EBSCO. Web. 30 Mar. 2011.
Soros, George. “Why I Support Legal Marijuana.” Wall Street Journal – Eastern Edition 26 Oct.
2010: A17. Academic Search Alumni Edition. EBSCO. Web. 30 Mar. 2011.
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