Legalization of Marijuana

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Essay assignment 2 Hybrid essay,
Draft 1.
Should marijuana be legalized?
The matter of the legality of marijuana seems to have been polemic for a long time. Since the early 20th century, laws have been promulgated and implemented to prohibit the cultivation, possession and trade of marijuana in most countries. Meanwhile, efforts also have been made to change the illegal status of cannabis, seen as a part of drug liberalization, i.e. the process of decriminalizing and reducing drug prohibition laws (Drug liberalization, 2013). Despite that the recreational use of marijuana, which has psychoactive effects when consumed (Marijuana, 2013), is severely banned by laws, consumption of cannabis for medicinal purposes is legal in many countries, such as Israel and Canada (Legality of cannabis, 2013). On one hand, in a large number of countries drug legislations are vigorously imposed and the resulting punishment inflicted on illegal consumption varies from a lenient fine to life imprisonment, even execution in some extreme cases in Asia (Legality of cannabis, 2013). On the other hand, possession and consumption of small quantities of marijuana are fairly tolerated and accepted socially, even decriminalized morally, that is, laws are not enforced rigorously against such activity despite being an illicit drug. As a result, different social attitudes towards the legality of cannabis have led to a division in public opinions. In this essay, I will consider a variety of opinions on the issue concerning the legal statues of marijuana and evaluate these viewpoints from my perspective in order to argue in favor of the legalization of marijuana. First of all, one of the main arguments in favor of the legalization of marijuana appears to be economic. Advocates suggest that decriminalizing marijuana would generate tax revenue that is worth billions per year, and consequently, the legalized marijuana industry would create a large number of jobs. To take one example, in the United States, a professor of economics at Harvard University, Jeffrey A. Miron, estimated that marijuana legalization would “yield tax revenue of $2.4 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like all other goods and $6.2 billion annually if marijuana were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco” (2005:1). In addition, in his report – titled The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition – he argued that the ban on marijuana involves “direct enforcement costs” and “prevents taxation” of highly lucrative marijuana industry. Therefore, according to his estimate, legalizing cannabis would save the government “$7.7 billion per year in expenditure on enforcement of prohibition” (2005:2). It seems that many economists have concurred with Dr. Jeffrey Miron’s statement. They claim that it would be more efficient a system of regulation and taxation of marijuana instead of prohibition. As a matter of fact, it is reported that more than 500 distinguished economists, three Nobel Laureates among them, signed an open letter to the President and Congress in 2005 encouraging the legalization of marijuana (Hardy, 2005). Personally speaking, I would agree on the assertion that a regulatory regime is more efficient than a prohibition that is prosecuted only with reluctance, given the fact that the use of cannabis for psychoactive purpose has been generally decriminalized and relatively tolerated in Europe and the Americas. In my view, legalizing the use of marijuana does not necessarily lead to a drastic increase in trade and consumption, considering that the system of regulation would be similar to the one used for alcohol and tobacco where strict age control is imposed. In addition, the resultant tax revenue and savings from the reduction of government expenditure would alleviate, to some extent, the budgetary pressure of the government in times of economic crisis. Nevertheless, it seems rather reckless to me to legalize a widely used illicit drug only on a...
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