America is losing the war on drugs. The time has come for a serious change in marijuana-related policy. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug, and is also the least harmful. It is arguably less harmful than alcohol or cigarettes. The federal legalization of marijuana can be achieved by modeling policies that already exist in several states in this country, namely California. The federal government stands to save billions in law enforcement expenditure, and also to gain even more money in tax revenue. The statistics of marijuana use are staggering. The government is sitting on a solution to the budget crisis that could change the bleak outlook of the country almost overnight. It is time for a change.
It is estimated that one in three people has, at some point, tried marijuana. It is further estimated that one in ten people actively use marijuana on an occasional basis. But, astoundingly, one in twenty American people are estimated to be heavy marijuana users. It is incredible to know that 33 percent of the people in this nation have engaged in marijuana-related behavior, considering it is illegal. One in eight people incarcerated in U.S.A. are in prison for marijuana-related crimes, and this figure alone costs American people over $1,000,000,000 annually in taxpayer money. In a recent issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, Tim Dickinson reported that “the White House leaked word that President Obama considers the four-decade-long crackdown [on marijuana] to be a failure” (Dickinson, 2012). The American government is fighting a losing battle against marijuana use, and it is widely believed that we, as a people, have reached a point in our history in which it is time to seriously re-evaluate the legal stance on marijuana, and potentially decriminalize it completely. One should first have a brief understanding of the inner workings of the marijuana plant and why it has the influence that it does on the human mind. Marijuana is typically derived from the female plant cannabis sativa. The plant contains many types of cannabinoids, but the most notable psychoactive stimulant is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. THC is a mild form of acid, and it is what produces the “high” feeling of using the drug. The content of THC is highest at the flowering bud of the plant, where it can range from 0.5%-5%. It has many methods for ingestion. The primary form is by smoking the plant, which can be achieved through several means, the most notable of these means being by smoking a “joint,” in which marijuana is rolled up into paper and is typically rolled to the size of a cigarette. It can also be smoked in any of several glass implements, such as “bowls” or “bongs.” Less frequently, it is baked into cakes or cookies. Rarely, it can also be drunk in a liquid suspension. Furthermore, it has a long history of use in this nation (Room, 2010). United States federal law currently schedules marijuana as a non-medical banned substance. This was not always the case. In fact, prior to the 1930’s, marijuana was a completely legal substance. It was used recreationally, medicinally, industrially, and religiously. George Washington even grew several varieties of the plant, including a few strains that were cultivated primarily for smoking. However, the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 worked to change this by becoming the first act on behalf of the U.S. government to criminalize the product. About three decades later, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 repealed the Marijuana Tax Act and scheduled categories for all types of recreationally used drugs, which involves the risk for abuse and the probability for medicinal use. Marijuana became a substance scheduled for non-medical use, and was banned as an illegal substance, even though marijuana does have limited proven medical use (Saieva, 2008). What is interesting is that two...