Marijuana legalization has been a contentious debate for long periods based on different perceptions and views on the drug. Both pro and anti-marijuana legalization, however, contend that the criminalization of marijuana in the United States has been the main contributor to the swelling number of incarcerated people (Doward). Additionally, it has contributed to the emergence of criminal gangs that violently control its sale and distribution. Currently, only medical marijuana is legal in the United States with nine states having legislation that has legalized recreational use of cannabis with further thirty states legalizing marijuana sales. Further, other states are advocating for its legalization due to numerous concerns although the primary issues border public health questions, safety, and financial implications. As such, due to such push for legalization, it is apparent that bringing it under the purview of the rule of law would be of more benefit than harm.
According to Marijuana Project Policy, the criminalization of the drug prompted mushrooming of criminal gangs and therefore with its legalization, revenue to such groups will be cut off. The same would translate to reduced drug-based violence thus saving billions of law enforcement resources. However, with its legalization comes the question of for-profit multinational corporations like in the tobacco industry eager to replace the criminal gangs (Sullivan). Such an argument must, however, be equated to the regulatory measures accorded to medical marijuana which restricts misuse and consumption. Furthermore, in specific states where cannabis is illegal, law enforcement actions against marijuana smokers have been disparaging. In New York, for instance, there is no difference in terms of the number of people who smoke marijuana amongst whites, blacks, and Latinos (Wolfe). However, the arrest statistics indicate enormous racial disparity. At least 85% of people arrested are people of color and individuals from the Latino community. Consequently, the state is considering legalization of the drug based on these statistics by establishing a task force to investigate health and safety concerns.
Legalization of marijuana entails both regulation and taxation of the recreational use of cannabis. As such, the legalizing states establish new sources of revenue, create new job opportunities and promote the agriculture industry in which marijuana is anchored. Further, with legalization, consumers of marijuana will be guaranteed healthy and safe drugs. For instance, the consumer would require information relating to the type of pesticides used in its cultivation thus enforcing standard measures and help in lowering consumption risks of unsafe products (The Globe and Mail). Besides, decriminalization of marijuana despite being alluded that it will contribute to more harm aims to reduce harm to the young people and the black community. Such harm has been consistently occasioned by enforcement agencies by perpetrating racial ends. With legalization comes regulation as to who should advertise, sell and distribute the drug and just as medical marijuana it will be under the safe wrap of the law.
Conclusively, therefore, marijuana legalization entails numerous benefits both to the people and economy. Not only will its legalization end racial disparity in marijuana arrests in different parts of the nation, it will reduce the incarceration rates and decongest the prison systems. Additionally, criminal gangs will equally be out of business. Moreover, cannabis legalization would ensure that state and local governments record increased revenue coupled with the creation of employment opportunities. And lastly, it will save the nation billions of resource channeled in law enforcement to combat public smokers and prosecution of possession cases. However, the argument of the overall harm to the society is comprehendible but with proper regulatory measures, such concerns will be resolved.
Doward, Jamie. “Legal Marijuana cuts violence says US study, as medical-use laws, see crime fall” The Guardian, January 2018.
Sullivan, Paul. “As States Legalize Marijuana, Investors see an Opportunity” New York Times, January 2018.
The Globe and Mail. (2018, March 25). Globe editorial: Federal pot law pushes harm reduction at the expense of coherence. Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/editorials/article-globe-editorial-federal-pot-law-pushes-harm-reduction-at-the-expense/.
Wolfe, Jonathan. “New York Today: A Cultural History of Marijuana” New York Times, February 2018.