DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Let’s use common sense here, people.
Although 52% of Americans have claimed that they would support the legalization of cannabis or marijuana, it still remains somewhat obscene and taboo to actually propose it federally.
As of right now, Colorado and Washington are the only states in the union that have legalized recreational use of marijuana and are being seen by other states as testing grounds for the legislation. Other drugs have been legally used since the start of this country, namely tobacco and alcohol (with the exception of the prohibition that worked out so well); why is marijuana, in 2013, still federally illegal?
Well, it has to do with three main things. The history of marijuana in America, the common misconceptions of the drug held today, and money of course.
Since the beginning of anti-drug laws in America, marijuana was placed in the same categories as narcotics, such as heroin and morphine, and cocaine. This group of drugs is still held today as the most dangerous drug category, above drugs such as LSD and acid. As soon as real knowledge about the drug spread throughout users around the 30s, a large propaganda campaign was launched by the US government, aided by tobacco and alcohol companies. This campaign fueled misleading images and films such as the cult classic “Reefer Madness” in 1936. Also stigmatized with an unruly and unfashionable lifestyle in whites, coupled with oppressed minority and ethnic groups, and generally thought of as a sex-stimulant, marijuana was doomed before it gained any footing. The same prejudice and lack of attention to true facts can be seen from the White House today.
This birthed the common misconceptions held today about marijuana. Marijuana is considered a gateway drug, meaning it will lead to other drugs. Opposition against marijuana argues that there are “major” health risks when marijuana is used, fear increased use and addiction, worry for safety, mainly driving while intoxicated from marijuana, and fear for their teenagers using the drug. They consider marijuana dangerous and its users lazy, stupid, and unproductive members of society.
The health risks of marijuana are temporary short term memory loss, slightly impaired muscular judgment, and lung disease/cancer from hydrocarbons inhaled when smoked, like cigarettes. The worst health risk, lung disease, can be avoided by using methods such as vaporization which removes 95% of hydrocarbons and carcinogens from inhalation, absorption, and consumption.
As to the addictiveness of marijuana, it’s not addictive at all. There are always outliers and extremities (technically anything can become addictive to the right person), but the brain does not develop a dependence on marijuana; seen when a regular user stops abruptly and no signs of withdrawal occur. Some extremely and legal addictive substances include alcohol (15% of Americans are considered ‘problem drinkers’), pharmaceutical prescription drugs, tobacco, which has the substance nicotine that is more addictive than heroin, cocaine or amphetamines, sugar, trans-fats, and caffeine, which are all consumed in huge amounts in this country. As to safety, it would be up to the states to pass legislation to determine if driving while high is considered a DWI; alcohol is much worse in this situation, though.
As for teenagers using marijuana, it would presumably be illegal for anyone under 21 to use it, as seen in Colorado and Washington. If you don’t want your kid to use drugs, raise them that way. I haven’t touched a drug a day in my life, but I’m still here advocating legalization. Not everyone will use marijuana just because of legalization.
Arguments for the support of marijuana include the economic benefits from taxing the good, the emergence of the hemp industry, law enforcement bonuses, the effect it will have on crime, the black market, and the Mexican drug cartel, and generally the pleasure it will bring to a large number of people. There around a million in Colorado alone, and the increase in the personal standard of living of users is a major point to consider.
If the good is taxed around 30%, like it would be if legalized, the revenue gained would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. This will be evened out, though, by the expenses it would take to establish and regulate a new industry. Once the system is up and running, the profit will pour in to states.
Hemp is used all over the world and has been since early civilizations. It’s used for hemp seed foods, hemp oil, wax, resin, rope, cloth, pulp, paper, and fuel. Because of its association with marijuana and cannabis, it is illegal in the US. This industry could be a new addition to the nation’s economy.
Law enforcement bonuses include a boost in public safety, cops can focus on actual crimes and not petty nonsense, the war on drugs encourages illegal police practicing, and looser laws will cause better control especially with children.
17% of the Mexican drug cartel’s profit comes from marijuana sales. When legalized in America, the illegal sale of drugs will become pointless, crime will lower, and sales from the cartel will eventually become nonexistent.
So with all of these factors, why marijuana? Of all the drugs in the world why this simple cannabis plant? Money. In history, the tobacco industry, the lumber industry, the alcohol industry, and the money made from the justice system to try, fine, and incarcerate the criminals on petty marijuana charges. It goes back to my last article, money is ruling politics and must be changed. Marijuana legalization has a better set of pros than it does cons, and so should be legalized nation-wide and the debate ended.