13 September 2012
Marijuana: Miracle or Nightmare?
For years, the decision of whether or not to legalize marijuana has been a growing issue. Marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug in the US, behind first alcohol, and second, cigarettes. Currently, the US law stands firmly against the notion to legalize marijuana, but, really though, why? Why shouldn’t it be legalized? There are many positive sides and many negative sides to this argument. Personally, I support the legalization of marijuana, but I am intrigued to learn more about why some people are so against it.
In the article “Why We Should Not Legalize Marijuana,” by Dr. Robert L. DuPont, he claims that legalizing marijuana would have more negative effects than positive effects on our society, not only socially, but economically as well. Next to alcohol, “marijuana is…the leading cause of substance dependence” (DuPont, 10). It is the most commonly abused drug in the US, and the world, and the “greatest costs of marijuana [are from] the drug itself” (DuPont, 3). With the United States recently still “coming out” of a recession, this provoked DuPont to speak out.
The main reason why DuPont would mention cost is because the most shared fallacy about the “principle costs of marijuana use are those related to the criminal justice system” (DuPont, 4). This is false because research shows that less than a half of a percent of all people in prison are there due to marijuana use. DuPont makes the argument that for some offenders of drug-related crimes, the criminal justice system can be a form of rehabilitation. Effectively, DuPont makes the point that “the future of our drug policy [should not] be a choice between treatment or the criminal justice system” (DuPont, 6). Instead, a likely goal would be to join these two systems together to “more effectively…improve…public safety and public health” (DuPont, 6). In his closing statement, DuPont figures that legalizing marijuana would be an unnecessary change to our law system. Reducing the medical use and distribution of cannabis would help our nation with balancing our budget and managing our money in aspects of health, productivity and education.
On the contrary, former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper argues that “legalization will reduce crime [and] free up police sources” (Stamper, title). His claim is that legalizing marijuana will help actually boost our economy.
There are two chief reasons, Stamper says, as to why our economy would benefit from legalizing weed. Primarily, marijuana is the top cash crop in over ten states, including our own (Stamper, 1). Pot produces the greatest revenue of all agricultural products grown in the U.S., “with production values of roughly $36 billion annually” (Stamper, 2). Stamper then proposes the question of why, then, is pot illegal if it can possibly make us so much money?
Secondly, Stamper cites that making weed legal would allow state and local police forces to focus on more important crimes such as drunk driving, domestic violence and child abuse. He essentially states that it is, indeed, a waste of time and energy for our police force to implement laws against the possession and use of marijuana, as he has witnessed “violent deaths of fellow police officers [and] innocent citizens caught in the crosshairs of [illegal] traffickers” (Stamper, ¶4). With the recent, brutal drug war erupting in Mexico and boiling over into the U.S., this impelled Stamper to speak out against marijuana prohibitionists. In comparison to prohibition of alcohol in the 1920’s, a rise in overwhelming death rates, addiction and crime falsified the stability of prohibition. Ending his side of this dispute, Stamper adds that due to its relative safety, “there has never been a single overdose related to the drug” (¶8) and it is time to repeal the marijuana prohibition, as it has budded a new part of American culture....
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