Legalizing Marijuana

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Legalizing Marijuana Abraham Lincoln once stated that, "Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes… A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded." In today's society, this statement still applies in reference to the illegal use of marijuana. Marijuana prohibition causes far more harm than marijuana itself. Keeping marijuana illegal is expensive and causes crime. Out of four possible connections between drugs and crime, at least three would not exist if drug prohibition laws were repealed. First, crimes which occur billions of times a year are producing, selling, buying, and consuming strictly controlled and banned substances. If drug prohibition laws were repealed, these activities would obviously cease to be crimes. Next, many users commit crimes, such as robbery, dealing, prostitution, and running numbers to earn money to support their habits. If marijuana was less expensive and easier to obtain, which would be the case if it were legalized, the crimes committed under these circumstances would dramatically decline. The third drug-crime link I drug trafficking. Without prohibition laws, those people trying to make a living by selling and distribution would not be thrown in jail. Support for legalizing marijuana is at its highest level in 30 years, according to the USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll. Since 1996, voters in eight states have passed initiatives supporting marijuana for medical purposes at least. Polls show more than 70% of voters support medical marijuana. Polls in Canada and England show half the population now supports legalization. The USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll found support for legalization "highest among 18 to 49 year olds, people in the West, and independent voters. Opposition was greatest among the elderly, those who attend church weekly, and Republicans." Those people generally do not accept change or want anything to be different. Marijuana should be legalized, if not completely then at least for medicinal purposes. Many argue that legalizing marijuana allows anyone to grow, smoke, and use the herb. The Lakeland Police Department calls marijuana "a psychoactive drug which increases anxiety, depression, paranoia, delusion, lack of motivation, aggression, risky behavior, and depersonalization" (Marijuana Legalization Issues 1). Opposers of legalization say that marijuana can cause physical harm if ingested in great amounts for a long enough time. They argue that passing an amendment to legalize marijuana under the pretense of medicinal purposes gives all people, including children, felons, and prison inmates, a constitutional right to grow and smoke it for a headache, cold, or any other common ailment. Another argument is that unlike other drug addicts, the marijuana addict is slow to recognize his addiction. The gateway effect is well established in research. Use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are major factor for addiction and harder drug use. Yes, marijuana users are more likely to try and to use harder drugs than those who never smoked in the first place. Does that mean marijuana should not be decriminalized? Of course not. Like alcohol, marijuana use is only unhealthy if ingested irresponsibly or in mass amounts. An idea to ban marijuana based on addictive properties would hardly be consistent with allowing tobacco to be legal. By using dosage and quality controls, safety guidelines, and an age limit, marijuana can be regulated for medicinal or other beneficial usage. By letting others know of the conditions associated with marijuana use, such as any prescription drug's side effects, people can choose whether they want to use marijuana and they maybe more careful. Marijuana should be legalized, but with caution. The cost for prohibition is high, regarding money and people's lives. Since 1981, federal expenditures on drug enforcement have...
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