Marijuana Legalization and National Debt

Topics: Cannabis, Tax, Recreational drug use Pages: 7 (1824 words) Published: July 6, 2014


Marijuana Legalization and National Debt
Marijuana Legalization
In the beginning of 2013 the United States’ national debt was 16 trillion dollars, 10 trillion dollars higher than it was just a decade previous (Treasury Direct, n.d.). Politicians are constantly looking for new ways to generate revenue for the country, with the most prominent solution including tax increases or new taxes. For several years citizens have requested that the government legalize certain recreational drugs, even suggesting that sales from these drugs could be taxed creating a brand new revenue source capable of eventually reducing or eliminating national debt. Opponents of this proposed solution to national debt argue that the dangers presented by the use of recreational drugs, outweigh any benefits that may come from legalizing their use and sale. However, precedence for the sale and taxation of potentially dangerous substances is provided by the sale of tobacco and alcohol. Review of these subjects has revealed that national debt could be reduced through the legalization and taxation of select recreational drugs.

Hemp or cannabis sativa is a naturally growing plant that civilizations have found a multitude of ways to use for over five millennia (Bostwick, 2012). One of the most common uses is to dry and shred the leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds to create a mixture known as marijuana. When concentrated it turns into a more resinous mixture known as hashish. The mixture can be smoked in pipes or hookahs or by rolling it similar to a cigarette. Modern users of marijuana commonly roll the mixture in papers designed for hand rolled cigarettes, or in pipes. The most common type of pipe used is a water pipe which is reminiscent of Middle Eastern hookahs. Another common use is to mix it into food or drink such as pastry or tea. Both of these mixtures are used in order to take advantage of the psychoactive or mind-altering chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in the plant.

THC reacts with specific types of brain cells, designed to be activated by chemicals similar to THC such as anandamide. These chemicals, which are naturally created in the body, react with cannabinoid receptors in the brain as part of a neural communication network. This network is an integral part of normal brain development and function. The majority of these receptors are found in sections of the brain that control pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement (National Institute on Drug Abuse, n.d.). Ingestion of THC overstimulates these receptors creating a euphoric or high feeling. The euphoric feelings, caused by a reaction with the brains reward system which is normally triggered in response to pleasurable things like sweets or sex, combined with an increase in relaxation are the primary factors that contribute to the use of THC as a recreational drug.

Beyond the high the immediate effects of marijuana use can be distorted perceptions, laughter, impaired coordination, difficulty thinking or solving problems, increased appetite, and disrupted learning and memory. These symptoms are accompanied by an increased heart rate, relaxed and enlarged bronchial passages, and expansion of the blood vessels in the eye. A user might experience only one of these effects or may experience all of them, depending on the individual and the amount of THC ingested. If perceptions are distorted they are most commonly reported as brighter colors or a change in the speed of time. The disruption of coordination which affects most users can cause problems with balance, coordination, and reaction time. These factors can affect a user’s ability to perform complicated tasks or drive. The inability to form new memories can cause issues with learning while under the influence of THC. In some cases where a large amount of the drug has been consumed acute psychosis can occur, which may include...

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Bostwick, J.M. (2012, February). Blurred boundaries: the therapeutics and politics of medical marijuana. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 87(2), 172-186.
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Gettman, J. (2007). Lost Taxes and Other Costs of Marijuana Laws. Retrieved from http://www.drugscience.org/Archive/bcr4/2Usage.html
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National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2004). Alcohol alert. Retrieved from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa63/aa63.htm
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Treasury Direct. (n.d.). Debt to the penny and who holds it. Retrieved from http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np
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