November 13, 2014
Legalization of Marijuana
The four-decade long war on drugs has caused many casualties, but the criminalization of marijuana is by far the most destructive part of the war. The tolls of destruction can be measured by dollars, years, and even lives of those who are affected. Marijuana is one of the most controversial topics being discussed today in America. Many Americans are aware of the drug’s positive medical purposes and question why it is not legal. Over 23 states have legalized marijuana in some form, yet in the other 27 states people are still being convicted for marijuana related crimes, which leads to the injustice of marijuana arrests. Not to mention the tax revenue marijuana would produce for the government. Marijuana should be legalized in America.
Society defines not only the meaning of drugs but also the meaning of the drug experience, and the meanings differ among different societies. Social groups and cultures define what kind of drug taking is appropriate, and if it’s acceptable. Many Americans know marijuana is used to aid pain anywhere from headaches, to long term disease such as cancer or glaucoma. The medicine helps with no harsh side effects. Former US Surgeon General, Joycelyn Elders, stated publicly “The evidence is overwhelming that marijuana can relieve certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms caused by such illnesses as multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS -- or by the harsh drugs sometimes used to treat them. And it can do so with remarkable safety. Indeed, marijuana is less toxic than many of the drugs that physicians prescribe every day." Also in an interview with President Obama, he stated his personal opinion saying alcohol is more harmful than marijuana. The Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, Amendment 2 on the November 4, 2014 ballot in the state of Florida as an initiated constitutional amendment, was rejected. Amendment 2 lost by only two percent, meaning more than fifty percent of Florida voters believe that the legalization of medical marijuana is right.
Another policy that the U.S government has implemented in order to deal with the problem being discussed was California voters passing Proposition 215, making the Golden State the first in the union to allow for the medical use of marijuana. Since that date, 22 more states, as well as the District of Columbia have enacted similar laws. A total of 23 states and the District of Columbia now allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs. The impacts have been mainly positive such as better health and access to safer medicines, and an enormous profit from the revenue of medical (and even recreational in certain states) marijuana. The Huffington Post reveals that hundreds of respected economists have agreed that the legal use of marijuana would significantly cut down on law enforcement costs as well as reducing the federal deficit through tax revenue. It is estimated that legalization could actually save the government over $13 billion. That’s $13 billion could be put towards something more useful as soon as marijuana is legal.
One of the major problems we are dealing with in America is the injustice of marijuana arrests. According to statistics in recent New York Times news article, in 2011 there were more arrests for marijuana possession than all other violent crimes. Marijuana was legal in the United States until 1937, when Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act, effectively making the drug illegal. Then In 1972, the US Congress placed marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act because they considered it to have "no accepted medical use”. The American Medical Association (also known as AMA) opposed the legislation at the time of its passage. From 1850 to the mid 1900s, marijuana was listed in the US Pharmacopoeia, the official list of recognized medical drugs. Marijuana...
References: Eitzen, S. (n.d.). Social Problems (2nd ed.).
Wigman, J. (2014, July 15). Injustice of marijuana arrest.
Johnson, M. (n.d.). State Medical Marijuana Laws. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
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