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A Case for Legalizing Marijuana Essay

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Updated: Nov 27th, 2019


Among all the illicit drugs used in the world, Marijuana takes the position of “most popular illegal drug”. As a matter of fact, the World Health Organization reveals that a significant 2.5% of the entire world’s population uses marijuana therefore making it by far the most popular illicit drug. As a result of the apparent popularity of marijuana and revelations that the drug is not as dangerous to a person’s health as has previously been assumed, there have been increased calls for the legalization of this highly favored illegal recreational drug.

However, these calls have been met with opposition by advocates of keeping the drug illegal who argue that the drug has many adverse effects and should therefore remain illegal. This paper shall argue that the US government should legalize marijuana since the drug is not as dangerous for use as is assumed and its legalization would have many advantages to both the individual and the government. To provide a balanced view, the demerits to the move will also be given with counter arguments offered for the same

Why Marijuana should be Legalized

The US government is notorious for its unforgiving “War on Drugs” which has resulted in the imprisonment of a significant number of people for possession and use. Marijuana is one of the drugs that the government policy targets and as it currently stands, the government uses a lot of resources in prosecuting and punishing marijuana consumers through the legal system. A report by Jeffrey Miron reveals that in the US, an excess of $7.7 billion is used annually in the government’s enforcement of prohibitions efforts.

The usage of this money ranges from organizing raids, arresting and prosecuting the offenders and then housing them in the prison system of the country. As can be seen, keeping marijuana illegal is a hugely expensive affair and the burden is borne by the tax payer whose money is channeled to fund all these operations. Making marijuana legal would mean that law enforcers would no longer have reason to arrest and prosecute dealers and users of the drug therefore resulting in the government saving a lot of money.

The current status quo where marijuana has been earmarked as an illicit drug has led to a situation where the government is not able to benefit monetarily from the drug. This is because the government cannot impose taxes on a product whose production and usage it has prohibited.

Gettman articulates that illicit marijuana cultivation provides “considerable unreported revenue for growers without corresponding tax obligations to compensate the public for the social and fiscal costs related to marijuana use” (5). In the event that the government was to legalize domestic marijuana production, this situation would be changed since some of the profits from the trade in the product would go to the government through the tax apparatus.

A study conducted by Miron in the USA revealed that “an estimated 6.2 billion would be gained if marijuana were taxed at the same rate as tobacco and alcohol products”. These findings illustrate the huge loss in potential gains that the US government makes by failing to allow legal home production of marijuana.

The lack of a legal marijuana industry has resulted in the emergence and thriving of an underground market through which the product is grown and sold. This black market which deals with the production, distribution and sale of the marijuana is almost explicitly run by criminal gangs from neighboring countries. In the US, the Mexican cartels have engaged in commercial production of marijuana to supply the US market (Houston).

This criminals and drug lords who run the marijuana production and distribution have become increasingly powerful and wealthy as a result of the product. Legalizing marijuana would remove the monopoly held by the criminal gangs and result in their being rendered unneeded.

Another reason why marijuana should be legalized is because it contains many medical benefits. The WHO states that “several studies have demonstrated the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids for nausea and vomiting in the advanced stages of illnesses such as cancer and AIDS”.

Considering the fact that humanity is constantly in a quest to ensure that suffering of man is minimized, making marijuana available to the people would propagate this values. Marijuana’s medical properties stem from the presence of the active ingredient, THC, which gives the drug the medicinal values. Legitimizing marijuana would therefore ensure that this drug is available to people who will benefit greatly from its curative properties.

Opposition for Legalization and Counter Arguments

For all this advantages, there are significant demerits that would arise from the legalization of marijuana. A major argument against the legalization of marijuana is that it would lead to a monumental increase in the number of users. The reasoning behind this argument is that as it currently stands, most people are afraid of the legal action that can be undertaken against them by the government as a result of marijuana possession or use.

Houston asserts that this reasoning is flawed since in the Netherlands (a country where it is legal for adults to purchase and consume regulated amounts of marijuana), the rate of marijuana use is significantly lower than in the United States and other countries where the drug is banned.

Arguably the most significant reason for opposition to the legalization of marijuana is due to the alleged negative effect the drug has on the use. Volkow states that “the use of marijuana can produce adverse physical, mental, emotional, and behavior changes, impair short-term memory, verbal skills, and judgment and can harm the lungs”. Other studies reveal that marijuana use predisposes men to developing testicular cancer.

Considering this many serious negative effects that are attributed to marijuana use, it would be very irresponsible for the government to legalize this particular drug. If anything, the government should increase measures to limit the use of marijuana by imposing stricter jail terms for distributors and sellers. While it is true that pervasive use of marijuana can have this health effects, this statement is a generalization and at the present, research indicates that the negative effects of marijuana are only mild.


This paper set out to argue that marijuana should be legalized since there are many benefits that can be reaped from the legalization of marijuana. These advantages include; the drugs medicinal value and the positive effect that legalizing would have on the economy.

The costs of keeping marijuana illegal are great and most of them end up being footed by the taxpayer. In addition to this, leaving the drug illegal only benefits a few drug lords and kingpins. For this reasons, all development minded citizens should call on their governments to legalize this drug since legitimizing it brings about numerous benefits for the nation as a whole.

Works Cited

Gettman, John. “Marijuana Production in the United States”. The Bulletin of Cannabis Reform, 2006.

Houston, Aaron. The case for a domestic marijuana industry. 17 Mar. 2009. Web.

Miron, Jeffrey. The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition. 06. June. 2005. Web.

Volkow, Nora. . 8 Mar. 2009. Web.

World Health Organization (WHO). . 2010. Web.

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