Why Marijuana Should Be Legalized
What if I told you there was a one quick solution to many of our nation’s problems, such as our increasing national debt, our overpopulated prisons, our ever failing war on drugs, and even diseases previously thought of as being incurable? Now what if I told you this solution was legalizing and regulating a plant called cannabis sativa, more commonly known as marijuana? What makes more sense prohibition or legalization. Since marijuana's first recorded use dating back five thousand years ago, the plant has never gained as much popularity as in the last century during prohibition. Now, more than ever, propositions to legalize the plant have risen and been subject to controversy and heated debate. Marijuana is the most widely used drug in the United States and considered to be the most harmful by the government with its anti-marijuana stance and laws aimed at curtailing its use. With marijuana use rapidly growing in spite of prohibition, the United States national debt rising at an alarming rate, and the search for cures for seemingly 'incurable' diseases raging on, legalizing marijuana seems like Marijuana has been part of American culture ever since Thomas Jefferson smuggled hemp seeds out of France because he considered hemp vital to America. According to a national household survey an estimated sixty million Americans use marijuana occasionally or regularly. More than 800,000 marijuana users are arrested each year ("Marijuana: Facts about Cannabis"). The main reason marijuana is currently outlawed is money. The government earns revenue from prosecuting users, jobs will be lost in "law-enforcement-judiciary-penal systems" and scientists will lose millions of dollars in grants aimed at searching for the negative effects of marijuana. "Recently, many of these same researchers have changed their opinions as they see development opportunities and hard evidence supporting marijuana's medical uses," says Ed Rosenthal, author of dozen books ranging from cultivating to the social policy of Marijuana, adding, "Two other related and very influential groups are the liquor lobby and pharmaceutical companies...Marijuana legalization would cut deeply into their profits by making available a competing product that can be produced with ease by anyone with a plot of land... however the companies can not make any profit because the raw herb cannot be patented (123).” Basic research will show that legalizing this plant can benefit our country whether you smoke it or not. A simple lesson in supply and demand will show that legalizing marijuana would create a significant drop in price due to the elimination of the risk factors of growing and also selling paraphernalia. When the alcohol prohibition ended, the price dropped to a third of its prohibition cost. A study done by the Task Force on Cannabis Regulation to the Center for the Study of Drug Policy-Regulation and Taxation of Cannabis Commerce reveals that legalization could open up a tax revenue stream for governments. Licensing, taxing, and fees could generate up to 7 billion dollars a year not including the taxes on sales of paraphernalia, recreational establishments and new industries according to a study by the Congressional Budget Office with state sales tax being the factor in determining basic revenue (Gerber 29). Marijuana prosecution and defense lawyers profit the most on marijuana laws; some earning as much as $5,000 for a simple possession bust and up to $20,000 for being busted with intent to distribute according to an interview with your average lawyer (Rosenthal 55). If you are caught with any amount of marijuana in a plastic bag you could be labeled a distributor. According to one Wisconsin flower grower, "A few marijuana plants can double my income and increase my net several times. It would seem that allowing farmers to grow marijuana would not only help save many small farms but also provide many new jobs, since marijuana farming and...
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