Marijuana Legalization

Marijuana is currently one of the most widely used illicit drugs on the planet. Many countries have classified it as an illegal drug due to its psychoactive effect, resulting in numerous debates about its legalization and illegalization. Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that is commonly used as a recreational drug, but it can also be used medicinally. Marijuana legalization has been a contentious issue around the world for many years. Marijuana, like any other contentious issue, has been met with some opposition, with others advocating for its legalization. Because they are adamant about their position on the subject, both sides of the debate will always have valid points for their arguments. However, marijuana should be legalized because of its medicinal value, economic value, and for security purposes. The decriminalization of marijuana will lead to a reduction in marijuana-related crimes and death, and it will promote its responsible use.

The Pros of the Legalization of Marijuana

One of the main reasons that support the legalization of marijuana is its medicinal value. Marijuana is known to cure many medical conditions, for instance, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, epilepsy, cancer symptoms, and other psychological disorders (Volkow, Baler, Compton, & Weiss, 2014). Apart from its therapeutic benefit, marijuana can be used as a pain reliever for patients suffering from terminal illnesses with chronic pain, and it is a relief for chemotherapy patients. Moreover, it is used for patients with AIDs, whereby these patients are given cannabinoids, which help in the improvement of the immune systems.

Despite there being several documented and proven facts about the medicinal significance and worth of marijuana, there have been a lot of resistance from several corners of the world fighting its legalization, which is very wrong. Marijuana relieves patients from chronic pain, nausea, and this is enough reason to support its legalization. If marijuana is legitimized, it could become a new industry in health science, because it could help cure and manage a number of health conditions, because it will be used without restrictions. Therefore, marijuana is paramount for these patients, and it should be legalized to allow them to use it freely without any restrictions.

Apart from its medicinal value, the legalization of marijuana will help decrease marijuana-related crimes and violence. In most countries, for instance, the U.S. and Canada, there are many cases of marijuana drug gang violence on the streets. Many students drop out of school to join the illegal gangs on the streets to sell marijuana. However, if the marijuana business is made legal, it will lead to a reduction of marijuana-related crimes, because the marijuana business will not be an illegal one anymore. Despite its illegalization in several states, marijuana is always easily available on the streets on the black market, and violent drug gangs carry out the business. Nevertheless, if legalized, marijuana will be easily accessible in the markets, and this means that there will be no more drug gangs on the streets selling it on the black market.

In relation to reducing marijuana-related violence, if legalized, marijuana will contribute to reducing deaths caused by illegal trade of marijuana. Volkow et al. (2014) note that there are many deaths on the streets caused due to smuggling of marijuana, and this calls for its immediate legalization to reduce these mortality rates. Most people, who sell marijuana on black markets, are criminals and drug addicts, and they are not always rational while handling their clients. Moreover, most of them are known for crimes like burglary and murder, and this is a danger for patients, who are in dire need of marijuana and are forced to meet face to face with these criminals, because most of them end up mugged and killed. Therefore, if marijuana is legalized, there will be a reduction in marijuana-related crimes and violence. However, if illegalized, there will be an increase in illegal drug trafficking gangs, and this means an increase in crime rates and violence.

The legalization of marijuana will promote its responsible use, because people will be allowed to use it legally without any restrictions from the law enforcing agents. Many people abuse marijuana, because they access it illegally, and they do not care about the repercussion. If legalized, many people will use marijuana in the right way, because they will procure what is only enough for their recreational and medicinal use, which is not the case, when they acquire it illegally. The legalization of marijuana will enable people to use it responsibly, because they will not be in fear of being arrested, and the incidents of marijuana abuse will be at minimal levels. On the same point of responsible use, many people abuse marijuana, because they have no idea of its medicinal use. Therefore, if it is legalized, people will be educated about the proper use of marijuana, and they will start using it responsibly without abusing it. If the drug is, especially legalized, for medicinal and not recreational purposes, and its circulation is regulated, there will be a more culpable use of the drug.

Legalizing marijuana will help generate revenue for many governments. Marijuana is illegal, meaning there are no taxes collected, when business transactions concerning it are done. Therefore, if legalized, the states will collect tax from marijuana business, and this revenue can be directed to important programs such as drug rehabilitation centers in the communities. Moreover, apart from collecting proceeds, more funds will be saved if marijuana is legalized. Many resources have been directed to the process of the legalization/illegalization of marijuana. Many governments spend a fortune on the course of controlling marijuana trafficking and to enforce laws that will curb its illegal sale yet there is no positive result in this fight, because marijuana is still available on the black market. Therefore, with its legalization, the money being wasted to control and marijuana trafficking, and to curb drug curtails can be used for other useful programs in the society. In addition, the time being wasted to enact laws that can help the legalization of marijuana can be spent on passing legislation that will assist patients in need of marijuana for medicinal use to access it easily without any restrictions and without risking their lives. Another advantage of the legalization of marijuana is that it will create job opportunities. Marijuana is one of the most grown cash crops across the globe, and if it is brought under the law, there will be job creation and economic gains too to the state, because it will no longer be sold on an illegal market.

The current prohibition of marijuana is not working, because many youths continue abusing the drug despite its illegalization. Despite its prohibition, marijuana is among the world’s most used illegally trafficked and used psychoactive drug. As a result, many end up with a criminal record due to the illegal sale or use of marijuana and due to violent drug use offenses and other simple marijuana possession crimes (Taylor, Buchanan, & Ayres, 2016). Most of them are involved in organized crimes, because they form gangs, where they sell and do drugs/crimes, and this means there is an increase in organizing crimes. Therefore, not legalizing marijuana is a challenge to many states and the challenges that come with its prohibition. These can only be solved through the legalization of the drug.

The Cons/Myths of the Legalization of Marijuana

Antagonists of the legalization of marijuana point out a number of its detriments. Number one, they argue that the legalization of marijuana will lead to an emergence of new marijuana users instead of combating the old ones (Chu, 2015). They claim that the legalization of marijuana will make it accessible to everyone, and this means that many people will start using the drug, because it is legal and easily available, and this will lead to many cases of substance abuse. Marijuana is a dangerous drug, and if made legal, it will result in increased rates of drug addiction among the youths, and this means increased crime and violence rates (Volkow et al., 2014). However, as much as this argument might be valid, this is not the case, because the legalization of marijuana will mean that there will also be strict legislations accompanying its sale and availability. Therefore, the government will not allow the drug to be sold to just anyone, who is in need of it. Any person, who will have to purchase marijuana, will have to prove his/her age and the reason for buying the psychoactive drug.

Another myth or con about the legalization of marijuana is that it will send a bad message to the young children and the youth in the community. Opponents argue that its legalization will make the young people believe that now that the drug is legal, it is acceptable to use it at any time, which will lead to an increase in substance abuse among the youth and students. In addition, the further argue that since the drug will be legal, the drug dealers will sell it to everyone, including under aged students, and this will be detrimental to the fight against drugs in schools (Chu, 2014). However, one should note that most students or underage youths abuse marijuana because it is illegal, and it can only be accessed through gangs on the streets. If the drug is legalized, there will be no black markets, where these students can buy the psychoactive drug, and as such the legalization will help reduce drug abuse instances in students, because there will be restrictions on buying it. The reasoning that it will lead to increased drug abuse rates is invalid, because the drug will not be readily available to the youth and students.

There is a myth that marijuana is among the leading causes of cancer. Opponents argue that, if legalized, many people will abuse the drug, and this will increase the number of marijuana-related cancer patients. However, this argument is invented, because according to Vineis and Wild (2014), tobacco smoking has been proven to be the number one cause of cancer and other breathing related problems. Tobacco smokers smoke many cigarettes in a day compared to marijuana users, who might even use the drug once in a week. Therefore, there is no way marijuana can be a leading cause of cancer, because even though the drug is abused, it is not commonly used publicly like tobacco.

Moreover, opponents argue that if marijuana is legalized, it will be leeway to the use of other harder drugs and addiction. A research done by Kilmer (2012) indicates that most marijuana users do not indulge in other harder drugs. Therefore, this is an invented myth that the government should not use to stop the legalization of marijuana. In addition, opponents argue that legalizing marijuana will lead to high crime rates due to an increase in the number of people using the psychoactive drug. However, this will not be the case, because if legal, it will be acquired legally, and this will be the end of drug cartels and street gangs, because they are the perpetrators of marijuana-related crimes.

Policies towards the Decriminalization of Marijuana

The supporters and opponents of the debate about the legalization of marijuana have legitimate points about the issue. But there is one thing that is obvious. Its legalization will be better than its illegalization. However, before marijuana is legalized, the government has to put in place specific policies that will govern its sale and access.

The first policy that should be established before legalizing marijuana is a restriction to the issuance of licenses and permits, where the drug will be sold. It is vital for the licensing board to ensure that the permits issued to marijuana selling outlets are issued by the local government and the states, and that they are issued legally. In addition, the licenses should indicate the time the stores should conduct business so as to prevent the illegal sale of the drug to students or unauthorized users. Besides, the dealer identity must be examined to guarantee that he/she has no criminal record or any substance abuse records for them to be allowed to run the outlets. Local authorities put a dynamic profiling system of people, who have an interest in running marijuana-selling outlets to ensure that marijuana legalization does not cause harm to the society. This way, individuals with previous drug and criminal records will be barred from operating these outlets, and this will reduce instances of them selling marijuana to drug addicts and even students.

The second policy that should be put in place, while legalizing marijuana, should focus on the location of the outlets. The stores should not be allowed to be within schools and colleges’ vicinity, as this will help ensure that students are not exposed to marijuana. According to Palamar (2014), the marijuana selling outlets should be 1,000 miles away from schools or any other institution. Other facilities to be considered before setting out a marijuana-selling store are public recreational areas, sports venues, and other social places deemed necessary by the local governments, and this will help prevent the possibility of marijuana abuse.

The number of outlets selling marijuana should also be regulated to avoid cases of abuse. According to Harper, Strumpf, and Kaufman (2012), the more the outlets are in a particular area, the more the possibility of marijuana abuse. Therefore, there should be limited stores that sell marijuana. Limiting the number of stores selling marijuana, the licensing board and authorities should put a higher price for license application, and stricter laws for one to qualify to own a store retailing marijuana.

The next policy to be adopted by a state before legalizing marijuana is to put a restriction on the users. Most youths and students have a tendency of using marijuana for recreational purposes. Therefore, if an age limit is placed on whom to buy the drug, instances of substance abuse problems among teenagers and young children will be at reduced levels. Most states that have legalized marijuana have put the age restriction to 21 years. This is because people aged 21 years are responsible and answerable to the law in the case of any misconduct. The age limit is vital, because it will put limits on the access of the drug, meaning teenagers will not be allowed to purchase the drug, and the fear of an increase in substance abuse incidences due to the legalization of marijuana can be put to rest. If local authorities impose age restrictions on the purchase of marijuana, its sale will be regulated.

Conclusion

Marijuana legalization has become a multifaceted subject that has involved a group of stakeholders – some in support, while others in opposition. The stakeholders have their firms and strong reasons as to why they take their particular position on the subject. Their views are significant in the process of the legalization of marijuana to avoid an increase of drug abuse. Even though marijuana is a drug that has faced a lot of opposition from different stakeholders, more public support for marijuana law reforms favors the drug. Marijuana should be legalized and regulated just like tobacco and alcohol, and be removed entirely from the criminal justice system (Palamar, 2014). Tobacco and alcohol are the most abused drugs in the world today, and it is unfortunate that no one is advocating for their illegalization.

It is evident that marijuana myths are a hindrance to its legalization. Opponents are using these myths to stop patients, who need marijuana from accessing it legally. In addition, they are using the myths to deny people the liberty and freedom to use marijuana, as long as it does not cause harm to third parties. In addition, most governments are stopping the legalization of marijuana over baseless arguments; yet, they have no right and control over what people take, and this applies to the case of marijuana. With the debates about the legalization of marijuana escalating as years goes by, the question remains – what is the government doing towards the ban of other harmful and hard drugs? Most governments have focused on the case of marijuana; yet, there are other illicit drugs in the market that should be illegalized.

The legalization of marijuana will not only have significant benefits on the life of patients in dire need of it for medicinal purposes, but also to the security of the people, because it will help curb black markets that are full of criminals. It will substantially reduce crime rates and the number of deaths caused by illegal selling of marijuana. From these arguments, it is evident that all governments should legalize marijuana, because its benefits outshine the arguments made by the opponents about its detriments. Conclusively, the government has a big part to play in the quest for the legalization of marijuana. This can be done by changing its perception regarding the psychoactive drug and enacting laws that will regulate its sale and use.

References

Chu, Y. W. L. (2015). Do Medical Marijuana Laws Increase Hard-Drug Use? The Journal of Law and Economics, 58(2), 481-517.

Harper, S., Strumpf, E. C., & Kaufman, J. S. (2012). Do Medical Marijuana Laws Increase Marijuana Use? Replication Study and Extension. Annals of Epidemiology, 22(3), 207212.

Kilmer, B. (2012). Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Palamar, J. J. (2014). An Examination of Opinions toward Marijuana Policies among High School Seniors in the United States. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 46(5), 351-361.

Taylor, S., Buchanan, J., & Ayres, T. (2016). Prohibition, Privilege and the Drug Apartheid: The Failure of Drug Policy Reform to Address the Underlying Fallacies of Drug Prohibition. Criminology & Criminal Justice, 16(4), 452-469.

Vineis, P., & Wild, C. P. (2014). Global Cancer Patterns: Causes and Prevention. The Lancet, 383(9916), 549-557.

Volkow, N. D., Baler, R. D., Compton, W. M., & Weiss, S. R. (2014). Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use. New England Journal of Medicine, 370(23), 2219-2227.

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