Cannabis Sativa, more commonly known as Marijuana, is made up of dried parts of the Cannabis hemp plant and is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States. For centuries, people all over the world have been using marijuana to achieve “euphoria”, but the drug has remained illegal in the United States despite countless efforts to reverse the law. In the last few years, the legalization of Marijuana became both a prominent and controversial issue in our country and remains an extremely touchy subject. Despite its short term effect of distorted perceptions and memory impairment, Marijuana has several pro’s that can not only help individuals but could benefit our country as a whole. These “pros” include medical use, a boost in our economy, the creation of an entire hemp industry, and the lowering of crime rates.
The use of marijuana for medical purposes dates back centuries to doctors of the western hemisphere. Because of their initial use of the hemp plant to help alleviate pain, doctors of the 18th century were able to develop the use of the drug and determine its uses in the medical field. It was classified as an illegal drug by many countries, including the US in the 20th century. Over the past 30 years, there has been a growing movement to legalize marijuana, primarily for medical use. In fact, several studied show that marijuana can even be good for your health and help with the treatment of other conditions. Medical marijuana has aided in the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease, Epilepsy, Multiple sclerosis, Glaucoma, Arthritis, Depression, Anxiety, and different types of cancer.
The American Cancer Society says that, “Marijuana has anti-bacterial properties, inhibits tumor growth, and enlarges the airways, which they believe can ease the severity of asthma attacks.” There have also been hundreds of studies done to show the benefits of using marijuana as a type of treatment. So far, 18 states have legalized medical marijuana, and several other states are fighting for those same laws. Other states are struggling to pass the law because the belief in how the drug can harm people. Though several doctors including, Dr. Lester Grinspoon have stated that there has never been a death reported from marijuana. In fact, Dr. Paul Hornby, a biochemist and leading authority on cannabis research stated, “I’ve heard you have to smoke something like 15,000 joints in 20 minutes to get a toxic amount of delta-9 tetrahydrocannibinol and I challenge anyone to do that.”Meanwhile it is known information that anyone can die from ingesting to much alcohol, aspirin, or even water. Legalizing the drug, especially for medical use, can help ease the pain of thousands of people and even help to save lives.
Legalizing marijuana would lead to an increase in our economy. Due to the fact that the illegal drug is used widely across our country, the Federal Government spends billions of dollars each year in order to decrease and prevent the trafficking of it. According to Dr. Miron “Replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of legal regulation would save approximately $7.7 billion in government expenditures on prohibition enforcement — $2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3 billion at the state and local levels.” In our current economic situation, this would be considered a “smart move”. Besides it saving our country billions of dollars a year, it can potentially also increase our entire revenue due to tax dollars. Because production cost for marijuana is very low, the government can mark up the price significantly and tax it like alcohol and cigarettes.
The legalization of marijuana would lead to the creation of an entire hemp based industry, which will lead to the creation of thousands of jobs. Hemp fibers from the stalks of the plant have countless of other uses besides its general purpose. The oil extracted from the seeds could be used for fuel and the fiber extracted from the hemp strand could be spun and woven into linen like fabric. This fabric will be usable for apparel textiles, home furniture textiles, and even carpeting. When combined with cotton or wool, hemp strengthens the fabric making it breathable and more comfortable to wear. Hemp can be made into rope, clothing, and even paper. More importantly, the creation of this industry will bring upon thousands of jobs for people in our country. Currently, our country exceeds more then $300 million in annual retail sales and the numbers continue to ride. Industrial hemp could generate thousands of sustainable job, helping our country to get back on track. Patrick Goggin, a board member on the California Could for Vote Hemp, the nations leading industrial hemp-farming advocacy group stated, “We’re in the midst of a dark economic transition, but I believe hemp is an important facet and has tremendous economic potential.”
Another benefit accrued through legalizing marijuana would be a significant reduction in crime rates. Since Marijuana is currently illegal, it is sold on the streets country wide. Thousands purchase the drug from dealers, putting their lives and reputations at risk, simply because it is the only method to attain it. Both drug dealers and gangs fight to sell the drug in the street, causing their deaths and the deaths of innocent people. Legalizing the drug help decrease the street wars and gang violence by taking the “right” to sell out of the hands of dealers, and into the hands of the government. Since the drug will be legalized, it will be available in the same locations as cigarettes and alcohol, decreasing crime across the United States.
After going over the various pro’s that come along with legalizing the drug, it is hard to see why marijuana is still illegal in our country. In my opinion, the only reason for it not being legalized is the amount of money and jobs that were invested in the drug war. The United States Government takes great pride in their war on drugs and have put countless efforts in to show the potential dangers of the drug. In other words, the government looks defeated if they begin to revise laws and turn back. Another reason it hasn’t been legalized is due to the protection of the reputation of political figures. Politicians assume that by supporting the legalization of marijuana, they are automatically condoning it. Though in reality, this isn’t true at all. There are many positive benefits of legalizing the drug, and our government should begin to overlook the current laws and work in order to change them. They would be able to regulate it to their advantage and make a profitable revenue. Some states are already realizing the benefits and attempting to make changes.
The reelection of the new president and a start to a new term brought about a great victory in the fight to legalize marijuana. On November 6, 2012 prohibition came to an end in Colorado and Washington State. The two states made it legal to smoke marijuana recreationally, without any prescription or medical use. Prior to this, Colorado and Washington were among the 18 states with medical marijuana laws but became the first in the United States to approve it recreationally. An article in the New York Times stated that Even though it will take months before they write the rules and make other regulations, “As soon as the laws are certified, it will be legal under Colorado and Washington law for adults 21 years and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. In Colorado, people will be able to grow as many as six plants. In Washington, users will have to buy their marijuana from state-licensed providers.”(Healy, 2012)
In conclusion, I believe that the legalization of marijuana would have a positive influence on America. Legalizing the now illegal drug will allow Americans to cultivate and use hemp to a great advantage. Billions of dollars would be saved in government expenditures, and revenue from taxation on the regulated sale of marijuana would bring in billions of dollars as well. Although the impact on a persons health is debatable, to this day, not one person has been killed from a marijuana overdose. Smoking cigarettes daily and drinking alcohol on an every day basis is much more detrimental to a persons health then marijuana, therefore, this is really no specific reason that the drug shouldn’t be legalized. Also, most importantly, using marijuana for medical use would benefit the thousands of people suffering with terminal illnesses.