Should marijuana be legalized nationwide?
- Early American colonists grew hemp for textiles and rope. Political factors in the 20th century led the US to criminalize marijuana with 29 states outlawing cannabis by 1931.
- President Roosevelt’s 1937 Tax Act was officially repealed by Congress in 1970, however, they passed instead the Controlled Substances Act simultaneously—ensuring marijuana remained illegal.
- As of November 2020, Marijuana is legal in 11 states for adults 21+ years and legal for medical use in 33 states.
- An estimated 283,422 new jobs are linked to the legalization of marijuana in 2020, and legal marijuana sales are predicted to earn around $23 billion in the US alone by 2025.
- Down from 52% of all drug arrests in 2010, marijuana arrests have decreased in the last decade and are now at their lowest level in 20 years.
- An overwhelming majority of US adults (91%) say marijuana should be legal either for medical and recreational use (59%) or that it should be legal just for medical use (32%). Fewer than one-in-ten (8%) prefer to keep marijuana illegal in all circumstances.
Though there are a substantial amount of benefits that come with marijuana usage in moderation, the harmful threat it poses to society is insurmountable; from the depletion of youth to the long-term effects it has on the brain, the drug should stay illegal indefinitely. The biggest argument against universal access to marijuana is how easily it could get into the hands of children. A Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration study showed that prior to the legalization of pot in Colorado, 16% of teens admitted to using the substance. After its legalization, 21% of teens had been using the drug. Regardless of who's hands the drugs are in, marijuana is responsible for the unequivocal diminishment of the human brain. Referencing Colorado again, Marijuana-caused traffic fatalities increased 62% following the legalization of marijuana in the state. Workers who have used marijuana had 55% more workplace accidents, 85% more injuries, and 75% higher absence rates than those who did not, according to a study done on postal workers. In response to the defensive argument that marijuana is not addictive, the National Institute on Drug Abuse labels four million Americans to have 'marijuana use disorder' in regards to how the drug is abused and how one could have a withdrawal. Not only is the drug a threat to society, but also to the Earth in the way that the growth of it causes soil erosion and habitat destruction. Fundamentally, the use of marijuana on a federal level could potentially produce more harm than good.
Marijuana should be legal on a federal level because the money could be adequately accounted for and circulated throughout the economy. The black market makes up a huge portion of the money in the system, and, on a practical level, could have taxes added to it to benefit each individual state.
Aside from the medicinal benefits of marijuana and its recreational use—which has less violent crimes associated with its use than with alcohol—its legalization would lead to significantly less organized crime through smuggling and selling the substance. It would also reduce the number of small-time dealers of a relatively 'soft' drug, thus allowing law enforcement to focus their attention on more worthy causes (like the selling of heroin and cocaine). Police would then spend their time chasing the more dangerous criminals we need off our streets.
Some criminals who illegally import and distribute marijuana are often involved in selling other drugs, as well as other unlawful activities—so this would have a massive impact on their business and cash flow. For example, in Ireland, triad gangs who were running illegal 'grow houses' were also involved in human trafficking people into the country. It's they who ultimately 'take the fall' when police get involved.
Providing legal marijuana for customers also makes it safer for people in two ways. It ensures a higher quality product—which is not sprayed with sand or other substances to add weight to the product and also allows for people to obtain it in safer and normalized situations, such as a store.