Legalization of Marijuana

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Brook Bernreuter
4/18/13
ENG 201: Gardner (11 MW)

Legalization of Marijuana

The relationship Americans have with marijuana is unique. Some would go as far to say it’s dysfunctional. On one side, the government has reported over 100 million Americans, or 43 percent of the population over the age of 12, have admitted to using marijuana at least one time. On the other side, marijuana is very much illegal for recreational use and is classified by federal government as one of the most dangerous drugs. In films, marijuana is somewhat glamorized showing actors and actresses smoking and using marijuana much to the audiences' enjoyment, while the same behavior is often criticized in real life and deemed "socially unacceptable". Keeping a drug that is considered so dangerous, but obviously used responsibly by millions, illegal is supposed to be keeping it out of the hands of teens, but according to a poll published by the National Institute of Drug Abuse teen use has been going up steadily sense 2005 (Monitoring the future n.p.).

The relationship Americans have had with prohibition has also been an extremely rocky one. It is common knowledge what happened during the prohibition of alcohol involving the black market, disapproval, lack of enforcement, and its final end in 1933. What is not common knowledge is that this is slowly becoming the movement for marijuana legalization as well. The black market involving marijuana is a billion dollar industry that funds much of the cartel destruction and violence in Mexico. The "War on Drugs" has been put on hold by Obama's drug czar contributing to lack of enforcement, yet America is still throwing billions in taxes down the drain keeping laws that no longer support what science tells us about marijuana. A telephone poll conducted shortly after the 2012 election by CBS found that a record of 49 percent of Americans are now in favor of legalization and abolishing prohibition once again as more and more Americans come to realize prohibition is failing (CBS n.p.).

Medical marijuana has been legalized with a doctor prescription in thirteen states, and decrimalization of marijuana is accepted in some states and many large cities. Both of these alternatives to legalization are failing, and sending the wrong message giving way only to full legalization. Only two states so far have bravely agreed to legalize marijuana recreationally, easing the path for other states to follow suit. Prohibition of marijuana fuels black market violence, overcrowds jails, and sends the wrong message about the drug. Marijuana should be legalized because the government can easily regulate sales, increase tax revenue, and focus the time, manpower, and tax dollars elsewhere.

Prohibition of marijuana and the "war on drugs" in the United States has been one of the biggest wastes of tax dollars in this country since the 1970's. In 1970, after classifying marijuana as a schedule 1 drug, congress enacted the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse to do a two year study on the drug so more could be known about its effects. A schedule 1 drug is defined as a drug that currently has no accepted medical use and is considered to be highly addictive and dangerous. Other drugs in the schedule 1 category include heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. The study was considered to be the most comprehensive study of marijuana ever in the United States. The final report was issued to President Nixon in March 1972 which concluded there was little danger of physical or psychological harm from using the drug, and that marijuana is clearly not in the same chemical category as drugs such as heroin or LSD. They also concluded that private use or possession in one's home should not have a stigma of criminalization. They called for decriminalization and for it to be removed from its classification of a schedule 1 drug. President Nixon responded to the recommendations with "I shall continue to oppose efforts to legalize marijuana" (Fox,...
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