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Recently, there has been a debate on legalization of marijuana among the adult population in many states. In particular, the states of Oregon and Colorado have grappled with the issue for the last few months. Before last year’s vote on the issue, the states had made illegal the usage of marijuana for recreational purposes.
That notwithstanding, the same question has been pertinent in other states. While the proponents argue that legalization of marijuana is long overdue, opponents argue that legalizing pot could undermine the gains made in the fight against hard drugs especially among young people.
This argumentative essay seeks to support legalization of marijuana among the adult population. The rationale is that marijuana usage has been rampant despite its illegal status in many states. Thus, insignificant achievement has been made to reduce the uptake of the drug despite its illegality.
At the outset, it is important to highlight that prohibition of marijuana has yielded far more negative results than good. Barbour asserts that the use and accessibility of marijuana have remained unaffected over the last few decades despite the authorities directing huge amount of resources towards its prevention (56).
Specifically, it is estimated that the state of Colorado spends around $12 million every year in an attempt to combat the ever-rising use of marijuana in the population (Green 12). Such amount of financial resources could be directed towards more serious criminal activities and crimes.
Without a doubt, the efforts by the government to criminalize and prevent usage of marijuana have dramatically failed overtime. By legalizing marijuana therefore, Barbour says, “…the government spending on prevention and war against marijuana will reduce significantly and save huge amounts of taxpayers’ dollars…” (6).
In addition, the government stands to gain from tax revenues from the drug when it gains legal status. The reason is that the government will enact tax legislations on the drug and ensure that all sellers and the buyers pay a premium tax leading to increased tax revenues for the government.
Second, Reinarman, Cohen and Kaal assert that marijuana has far less negative effects on health of the user when compared to other drugs such as tobacco and alcohol (836). Moreover, pot smoking has shown to have minimal effects on the surrounding community.
That notwithstanding, tobacco and alcoholic drinks are higher in toxicity than marijuana. They lead to increased chances of addiction and are harmful to the body of the users and those around them but they remain to be legal (Reinarman et al. 59).
In a book that compares marijuana and other legal drugs, Green says, “… tobacco is forty folds harmful to the health of an individual than marijuana…” (123). She says that a user of alcohol is more likely to become violent than pot smokers.
This is notwithstanding the addictive effect of tobacco and alcohol that can highly overcome the addiction caused by marijuana. To that end, it is important to regulate and decriminalize usage of marijuana, as is the case with other ‘common’ drugs.
Further, marijuana does not lead to cancer, as many opponents would like to show. In fact, victims of cancer have used marijuana since time immemorial.
Although there exists no conclusive qualitative or quantitative study that marijuana has a positive link to cancer, a recent study by American Psychological Association has concluded that there is no evidence to say that marijuana use could lead to lung cancer (Green 24).
To the surprise of the opponents, the research also revealed that there were insignificantly low incidences of marijuana users suffering from cancer (Barbour 9). In fact, there is no evidence to show that use of marijuana has been a direct causative factor of death among its users According to Svrakic et al,
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“…smoking cannabis provides relaxation and pleasure, enhances the sense of well being, contributes to stress-relief, and helps to deal with hard reality…” (94).
While this is the case, alcohol and tobacco use can lead to development of chronic illnesses such as cancer. Undoubtedly, criminalization of marijuana is therefore an application of double standards to specific types of narcotic drugs.
Nonetheless, opponents have raised issues with the attempts to decriminalize and legalize marijuana. They argue that the state will have failed by legalizing marijuana (Svrakic et al. 91). They entrench their rationale to the notion that legalization will lead to an increase in uptake of the drug among the young population (Svrakic et al. 91).
They also pinpoint that such exposure to marijuana will create an entry to hard drugs for the same category of the population. Additionally, Svrakic et al. argues that,
“… legalization of marijuana will undermine the war against drug trafficking especially in the Mexican border where many drug cartels flourish by selling illegal narcotics such as marijuana…” (95).
Although the latter argument is important to consider, it is imperative for the opponents to dedicate more studies on the subject to demystify the myths and misconceptions that have marred marijuana.
In conclusion, the public debate surrounding legalization of marijuana has been inconclusive and emotive. Proponents argue that legalization of marijuana will lead to increased revenues for the government amid economic challenges.
Legalizing marijuana will not lead to cancer and deaths but will spark the debate for apparent effects of other conventional drugs that are legal.
On the other hand, opponents say that the process will lead to increase in uptake of the drug and undermine the war against drugs and traffickers.
Barbour, Scott. Should Marijuana Be Legalized? New Jersey: Prentice Hall Publishers, 2010. Print.
Green, Chelsea. Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are You Driving People to Drink? New York: McGraw Hill Publishers, 2009. Print.
Reinarman,Criag, Cohen, Peter and Kaal, Hendrien, “The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy: Cannabis in Amsterdam and in San Francisco,” American Journal of Public Health, 94.1(Dec. 2002): 836-42.Print.
Svrakic, Dragan, Lustman, Patrick, Mallya, Ashok, Lynn, Andrea, Finney, Rhonda and Svrakic, Neda. “Legalization, Decriminalization and Medicinal Use of Cannabis: A scientific and Public Health Perspective” Missouri Medicine, 109.2 (Mar. 2002): 90-97. Print.