Criminalization of Marijuana

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The Criminalization of Marijuana

Corry Countryman

ENG 210
Mrs. Rippard
November 18, 2010

The issue of criminalization of marijuana in the United States is becoming a big one. Marijuana was first federally prohibited in 1937, when very few Americans had even heard of what it was. To this day, there are between 95 to 100 million Americans admitting that they have tried using marijuana before. Out of these, 15 million of them said that they have used within the last month. In addition to this, there was a study released in December, 2006. The study found that now marijuana is the leading cash crop in the United States. The value of marijuana in the U.S. exceeds the value of wheat and corn combined. High school seniors consistently report every year, that approximately 85% consider marijuana “fairly easy” or “very easy” to obtain, according to government funded researchers (Marijuana Prohibition Facts, 2008). With all of these facts at hand, we can see that there is a huge problem concerning the non-taxation of marijuana in the United States. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with the idea of marijuana use, it will continue to remain a huge cash crop in the U.S. By criminalizing its use and not putting a federal tax on it, our country is ultimately missing out on a huge cash market and a potential boost in the economy. The criminalization of marijuana has become a real, legitimate problem in the United States that needs to be addressed before it gets any worse.

On top of the U.S. missing out on the taxation of the large cash crop, it continues to pour astronomical amounts of money into the “war on marijuana”. The U.S. government spends more than $12 billion dollars a year on drug control programs. Because federal budgets do not separate spending by drug, there is not a precise figure for the amount spent on marijuana alone. Although, it is estimated that the amount spent on marijuana alone is well over a billion dollars a year (The price of keeping marijuana illegal, 2006). From 1995 to 2008, there were nearly 9.5 million marijuana arrests in the United States, including 872,720 arrests in 2007 alone. That is an all time record. That number is more than the amount of all arrests for violent crimes combined. Someone is arrested for marijuana every 36 seconds, and about 89% of all of these arrests are for possession, not for distribution or manufacture of marijuana (Marijuana Prohibition Facts, 2008). This shows the astronomical amount of time and money that the U.S. government is spending on the “war on marijuana”.

Even though we can see from these facts that legalization of marijuana would definitely benefit the economy positively, there are still other issues that people may have with the legalization of marijuana. People may feel that marijuana is a medical risk. Even if this was the case, would it be right for anyone to try to keep someone else from smoking the plant or natural herb of their choice? No, it would not be right. If someone wants to use any one of the natural herbs of the earth to their benefit, it should be their choice, and is their God-given right. We know that physical health concerns are not the reason for criminalization of marijuana though. If this were the case, then both cigarettes and alcohol would be illegal as well. Studies have proven that carcinogens in tobacco cigarettes can cause cancer. Studies have also proven that regular alcohol use can cause liver damage, ulcers, and alcoholism, among other problems as well. Unlike alcohol and tobacco, marijuana has no addictive properties either. While a person can become psychologically addicted to anything, marijuana has no physically addictive properties and will not cause any withdrawal. The results of the largest study of its kind ever done, showed that smoking marijuana, even chronic regular use, does not lead to lung cancer. This may be due to the fact that THC found in marijuana kills...
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