Should Marijuana Be Legalized

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Team Debate Paper
Rhonda Baskin, Carmil Gregory, Peter Hill and David Sutherland BCOM/275
February 24, 2013
Instructor: Jennifer Buchholz

Should marijuana be legalized for personal use? This is a question that many have been asking as well as debating over for many years. Marijuana has been used for many medicinal purposes throughout medical history. However, many consider marijuana to be gateway drug that could lead to harder drug use. Many argue that marijuana use poses less of a threat than the use of alcohol or cigarettes and could be a great stimulus for a failing economy. It seems as though the debate of the legalization of marijuana has become not only a social debate but political debate as well. Although, states such as Washington and Colorado have blazed the trail and have legalized marijuana, there is still State vs. Federal law stipulations that interfere. In contrary there are pros and cons that fuel any debate in life. Regardless of state laws to the contrary, there is no such thing as “medical” marijuana under Federal law. Marijuana continues to be a Schedule I substance meaning that it has no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse (Policy). The Federal laws that are in place will continue to leave room for debate over the legalization of marijuana until both state and federal laws coincide. One of the potential advantages to legalizing marijuana on a federal level would be the increased tax revenue it would create. At first glance this would seem to be a great benefit that should create a large amount of tax revenue along with cutting out substantial expenses to the war on drugs, but a 2010 study showed that legalizing marijuana would bring 9 billion dollars of tax revenue and would only be raising the overall tax revenue by 0.5%. Marijuana would be taxed similar to the way cigarettes are currently taxed, but prices on marijuana are expected to fall drastically in comparison to the prices they are currently at on the illegal market thus creating less tax revenue. Once marijuana was legalized it could also pull down taxes that are currently being made through alcohol sales as more people may reduce purchasing alcohol and purchasing marijuana instead. Although these numbers do not look entirely great having marijuana as a taxable product that is already being consumed in its ill-legality would only serve as a benefit to add money into our economy along with cutting expenses with the current enforcement of it. Illegal markets attract criminals, and criminally minded individuals. Whether it was prohibition in the 1920’s or the sale and distribution of marijuana now, the individuals who work in these illegal industries are criminals (Mckinney, F) Often violent crime is associated with these markets, because there is no legal recourse available for these individuals to resolve their disputes. Increasing penalties for possession of marijuana only lead to more crime that can be attributed illegal marijuana. Legally sanctioned marijuana would separate marijuana users from the hard drug markets. This would limit the marijuana users exposure to sellers of hard drugs.

A bureau of justice statistics report shows that 55% of prisoners in federal prisons are there for drug law violations. In 2004 12% of these drug law violators are incarcerated for crimes attributed to marijuana. The bureau of justice statistics report states that in 2004 44,816 prisoners were incarcerated in federal and state prisons for the marijuana drug law violations. An FBI crime report shows that in 2011 49.5% of the total drug arrests in the country are marijuana related arrests. 6.2% of these arrests are related to manufacturing and sales, and the other 43.3% are possession arrests. The legalization of marijuana would eliminate these arrests, which are primarily made against the end user. The criminal activity that supports the marijuana drug market would be eliminated, and state and federal law...
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