English 111, Section T3A
21 March 2012
Word Count: 1252
According to the United Nations 162 million people, about 4.0% of the world population uses marijuana annually. 0.6% of the world population, or roughly 22.5 million people, use the drug daily. In the United States, this translates to 1% of our population, a relatively small number of people at 1.4 million, using marijuana every day. Even though it’s a small percentage of Americans that use marijuana, it’s caused a very heated debate about the legality of the drug. Currently in America, there are federal and state laws regarding marijuana, with federal laws carrying harsh punishments. For example, possession of any amount of marijuana is punishable by one year in prison and a $1000 fine. The punishments after that go up exponentially. But why is marijuana illegal? What about it causes lawmakers to pass such harsh laws on a substance while alcohol punishments are much less? Are there economic benefits to legalizing marijuana? In John Rawls’s “A Theory of Justice”, Rawls argues that “justice is fairness” (237). Are the penalties put on marijuana use truly fair? These questions are the questions that lawmakers and the American public should consider when deciding the legality of marijuana. This paper will discuss the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana and will conclude that marijuana should be legalized in the United States.
One of the biggest arguments against the legalization of marijuana is the perceived notion that it acts as a “gateway drug”. A gateway drug is, simply put, a drug that leads people to the use of harder drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or meth. According to www.marijuanaaddictiontreatment.org, marijuana is clearly a gateway drug. But how clear is it really? They state that 62% of adults who used marijuana before the age of 15 have used cocaine at some point in their lives as opposed to 0.6% of those who have never used...