Legalizing Marijuana

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John Veidt
English 101
Final Paper
Legalizing Marijuana
The legalization of marijuana is one of our nation’s biggest conflicts. People might ask why is marijuana illegal today. Now when you hear the word marijuana people are always so quick to make stereotypes about it. “In 1937 it was estimated that there were 55,000 marijuana users. Today it is estimated to be over 50 million of them. That’s a 100,000 percent increase.”(The Union) Think about it from this point of view, individuals deserve the right to make choices for themselves. The government only has a right to limit those choices if the individual's actions endanger someone else. This does not apply to marijuana, since the individual who chooses to use marijuana does so according to his or her own free will. The government also may have a right to limit individual actions if the actions pose a significant threat to the individual. But this argument does not logically apply to marijuana because it is far less dangerous than some drugs which are legal, such as alcohol and tobacco. Yet marijuana is still illegal, as it has been for decades.

Marijuana is also known as cannabis. Many might not know that marijuana actually used to be legal in the United States. It was not only legal but, it happened to be one of the largest agricultural crops on the planet. Cannabis is home to many different groups of plants. One of which is called hemp. Now what exactly is hemp? Hemp is the most durable natural plant in the world. Up until 1883 hemp was the most common grown crop in the world among people. It literally has thousands of uses; from a majority of fabrics, to lighting oils, medicine, and even paper. In fact “Benjamin Franklin started one of America’s first paper mills using hemp paper. The first two copies of the declaration of independence were written on 100 percent hemp paper. Back then 50 percent of all medicines were made from cannabis and hemp.”(The Union) According to Popular Mechanics Magazine hemp is to be considered a “new billion dollar crop.” (Feb. 1938) It is said in the article that hemp can produce over 5,000 textile products, and over 25,000 other products ranging from dynamite to clothing to even bio diesel. Making fuels out of hemp would end the dependence on oil and end high gas prices forever because it’s a renewable resource. Using it for paper would solve deforestation problems all over the world. The only difference between hemp and the stuff that you smoke is that you can’t get high from it. One might think ok well if you can’t get high from it, then why is it illegal? The answer is because it’s part of the same family as marijuana. Just by using hemp to make all of these products are enough to say that marijuana/cannabis should be legal all alone.

Marijuana has become big business in United States and even Canada. “It is estimated the Canada makes over 7 billion dollars annually and up to 85 percent of the profits come the sales made in the United States.” (The Union) The United States could probably increase that even more with all of the uses marijuana has. Imagine all of the uses for all of that money. Whether it be for education, infrastructure such as roads and buildings, national defense, lowering the nation’s debt problem. Keeping marijuana illegal cost so much money. All federal, state, and local law enforcement work full time to enforce the “war on drugs.” It costs billions of dollars to pay those law enforcement officers. And what is done with all the people who get caught smoking or possessing marijuana? They either fined or incarcerated; all depending on where you live. This affects the everyday taxpayers. “Federal spending on incarceration and employment of officers cost over 2 times the spending on the education system; coming in at over 5.7 billion dollars annually. In a 20 year span the prison population has quadrupled. Currently there are over 45,000 prisoners in state and federal prisons for marijuana charges.”...
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