The debate about whether marijuana should be legalized in the United States has been there for several years. The government drug regulatory policies are very inconsistent and regulatory interventions are normally based on 5 approaches. The 5 approaches which have been used by the government to regulate drugs include legalization, medicalization, harm reduction, decriminalization, and prohibition (Warner, 2001). Legalization and usage of marijuana within society will have both positive and negative impacts. The goal of this paper is to address the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana. To achieve this goal, the paper will be organized into the following sections: pros of legalizing marijuana, cons of legalizing marijuana, and the conclusions drawn from the two sections. Both sections will discuss the major issues of legalizing marijuana.
Pros of legalizing marijuana
The proponent of marijuana legalization considers that they are many benefits of legalizing it compared to its demerits. One of the reasons why people are in favor of marijuana legalization is because the drug is considered harmless compared to other drugs such as tobacco and alcohol. The studies concerning the harmfulness of marijuana are normally confusing and in most cases they do not provide a concise explanation (Hallfors & Shereen, 2004). Most of the doctors around the world have in many instances concluded that marijuana is not destructive when used in moderation. A problem only occurs when this drug is abused and this is normally the case to all drugs when abused. There is also a study that indicates that marijuana is not addictive like other drugs.
Another major issue that has raised the case of marijuana legalization is its medicinal value. There are medical benefits which are associated with marijuana. It can be used to treat many diseases as well as solving other health issues. This indicates that legalizing it would assist many patients to have access to the drug as well as helping scientists in their researches in confirming the medicinal value of this drug. Some of the diseases that marijuana helps in their treatment include asthma, glaucoma, cancer chemotherapy, pains and muscle spasms, and AIDS-related wasting (Hallfors & Shereen, 2004).
The government can benefit from legalizing marijuana as it will act as a source of tax income. Most of the legalized drugs such as alcohol and tobacco contribute a lot of money to the government through taxation. Marijuana won’t be different and it would contribute a great amount of revenue through taxation because its legalization would allow people to conduct their business legally, thus they would not run away from tax tariffs. The government will, therefore, create an extra source of money that can be spent on governmental projects.
The proponents of marijuana legalization argue that limiting its usage is infringing someone’s freedom. Every person has a right to choose what to use or what not to. People who abuse other legal drugs such as alcohol do understand their harmful effects yet they are allowed to use them without any limit. Therefore, it is unfair to victimize marijuana use yet other drugs are allowed to be abused. Those who use it know about its harmful effects and it is their right to choose to use it or not.
Cons of legalizing marijuana
Legalizing marijuana has been opposed in many regions all over the world. This normally happens due to the negative effects associated with its usage. A major reason why marijuana usage is prohibited is that it influences people to use other hard drugs (cocaine and heroin). This is a serious problem because it would be very dangerous when people start using hard drugs. People normally start taking marijuana which is considered “not harmful” and due to its excitement they end up experimenting harder stuff (SAMHSA, 2009).
Marijuana usage will lead to an increase in crimes such as careless driving, robbery, and rape cases. Many crimes are claimed to be committed by people who use marijuana. Careless driving is a major problem within society due to drunk driving. Drunk driving is very easy to detect but when someone is “high” on marijuana, it would be very difficult to detect unless the user has been smoking it in the vehicle. It is normally not possible to identify the smell of marijuana compared to that of alcohol. Lapse of judgment due to marijuana influence will also lead to crimes such as robbery and rape.
Legalizing marijuana would directly influence the probability of these drugs being used by kids. Marijuana can have disastrous effects on kids since their brains are developing. Using marijuana to developing brains is very dangerous and can cause permanent injuries to the brains (SAMHSA, 2009). The legalization of things directly influences their accessibility to kids. For instance, some kids as well as teenagers do have access to legal drugs such as alcohol and cigarettes although it is prohibited to sell these drugs to them. This means legalizing marijuana would increase the chances of it being used by children.
In conclusion, I would argue that marijuana should not be legalized but its usage should only be allowed in areas where it is beneficial. That is, medical practitioners should be allowed to carry out their researches on the benefits of marijuana but it should never be legalized. Its usage causes more problems compared to its benefit, thus it should only be allowed to be used in the medical field because this is the only place I would consider its usage has been beneficial. The question that will arise would be; how will it be used in the medical field when it is illegal? The government should devise ways of allowing only medical practitioners to use it.
Hallfors, D. & Shereen, K. (2004). “Sending the Wrong Message: Did Medical Marijuana Legalization in California Change Attitudes about and Use of Marijuana?”. Journal of Drug Issues, 751-770.
SAMHSA. (2009, January 8). The NSDUH Report: Marijuana Use and Perceived Risk among Adolescents. SAMHSA. Web.
Warner, K. (2001). “Legalizing Drugs: Lessons from (and about) Economics”. The Milbank Quarterly, 641-661.