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Why I Believe Legalization of Marijuana Should Occur

Updated on April 9, 2011

Since the 1930s Marijuana has been illegal. But why? For what purpose? Many arguments have been had on the subject, and I want to explain my own personal opinion. Now, before we get started, I should explain - I do NOT smoke marijuana - nor do I condone the breaking of any laws. I've tried it a time or two back in my high school days - who hasn't? I just can't exactly say I enjoyed the feeling as much as others - but I'm also a firm believer in freedom of choice. In this article, I plan to explore the ups and downs of legalization of marijuana.

Disclaimer: I do NOT condone the ILLEGAL sales or use of drugs. This is simply an argument towards why legislators should consider the legalization of marijuana.

First we should discuss why exactly marijuana was made illegal to begin with. Many people are under the assumption marijuana was made illegal after years of research through scientific and medical means - to protect the citizens from a dangerous and evil drug. These are people that have never taken the time to actually look into the matter, and realize how wrong they actually are.

The U.S. legal system has always been plagued with many problems- Racism; Fear; Biased Media (news, reporters, etc;) Ignorant, Incompetent or biased legislators; and Greed. Many of these factors, as I will show you, played a large part in the process of making marijuana illegal.

Hemp, now more widely known as Marijuana or Cannabis, has been one of the most influential and useful products in human history. The plant has been used for oils, fabrics, ropes, incense and even food! In fact, the earliest woven fabric was made of the hemp plant.

In early America, around the 1600s through the 1700s, it was actually made illegal to NOT grow hemp plants, for any farmers in many colonies. During such time period, hemp was even used as legal tender - you could even use it to pay your taxes!

One of countless anti-marijuana propaganda used
One of countless anti-marijuana propaganda used

Racism played a major role in making marijuana illegal, as well as the media. One newspaper article in 1934 stated, "Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice."

As you could imagine, with the consensus of the time, this did not go over well, and created a general fear of the drug.

Fear was a major weapon used by anti-hemp activists. Such things were said as the Mexicans and Blacks were using it to "ensnare" whites, or their children. Also stated were the stories of the "Hashshashin," or Assassins. I have a hub explaining more on the Assassins here. The general basis, however, is that since ancient times there has been an organization called the Hashshashin, or Hashish-Eaters - which were assassins. Many writings, including some by such famous people as Marco-Polo, indicate truth behind these stories. These assassins would eat, or smoke, Hashish before going out onto their missions or tasks, to calm their nerves. The Hashshashin is said to have very important roles throughout history, yet nothing is officially tied to this organization, due to their intense attention to detail and intricate evasion skills. This is reflected in many of the time's propaganda posters citing it to be a "killer drug," invoking insanity and murder. However, most people under the influence of marijuana will never show signs of aggression caused by the drug, but a moreover happy and harmonious attitude towards most. Unlike alcohol which can turn the most innocent and pleasant person into an angry and violent being.

Alcohol and Tobacco vs. Marijuana

Alcohol and Tobacco are still legal in the United States, though heavily regulated by law. Both being mind and health altering substances, yet still legal unlike marijuana. Why is this? The use of alcohol and tobacco stem back as far as marijuana does, yet have many less available uses. The prohibition era in the United States (1919 to 1933) went over horribly, to many lawmaker's dismay. This is because almost everyone drank alcohol, and believed it was not a horrible substance - whereas the use of cannabinoids was not as common, and was unknown ground for most Americans. With those conditions, and the great amount of negative propaganda for marijuana, cannabis was made illegal with ease.

Though today we know the dangers of Alcohol, Tobacco and Marijuana, in the early 1900s there wasn't much research or real facts for Americans to make the properly educated decisions required on these matters. Today we know that while alcohol will provide a disorientated and euphoric state, we also know that it may cause liver disease, heart disease, possible birth defects, dependency, damage to the central nervous system, etc. The list of negative effects are just as bad for Tobacco - Cancer, liver disease, heart disease, dependency, emphysema, and much more. With all that being said, let's take a look at some long-term effects for marijuana.

For many years now, a slew of researchers have been looking into the effects of marijuana. Many tests come back with very inconclusive results. Either the effects are too subtle to be detected by current methods, or the effects just aren't there. Granted marijuana is said to be addictive on a low scale, conclusive evidence of this fact is hard to find, and is nowhere near the addictive properties of alcohol or tobacco. Outside of the possibility of contracting cancer, as the smoke does in fact contain carcinogens, just as cigarettes do, it is tough to find conclusive evidence pointing to long-term negative effects of marijuana use.

Looking at the short-term "drunk" or "high" effects of both alcohol and marijuana, it is hard to believe alcohol is legal while marijuana isn't. Marijuana acts as a sort of sedative to the user, whereas the effects of alcohol vary person to person. For most alcohol is a sedative depressant, causing drowsiness. However in many people it "brings out a whole new person." Marijuana however, has a more "blanket" euphoria for most. It will act as the sedative depressant it is, yet provide you with a general gleeful feeling.

I personally believe there are three different types of "drunks" or alcohol users.

  1. Angry/Violent Drunks
  2. Happy/Funny/"I love you guys" Drunks
  3. Depressed or Upset Drunks

I also believe there are only two types of marijuana users.

  1. Happy/Funny yet Lazy users
  2. Hungry users

Granted, the types are all personal opinion with no scientific basis, it is what i believe. It is all purely observation. With this all said, do you still believe marijuana is so evil?

A Solution to Many Problems

Legalization and taxation of marijuana would provide many benefits to the United States and its citizens. The tax revenue provided by the regulated sale of the substance would be immense. With legislation already in place to create revenue on tobacco and alcohol sales, taxation on marijuana sales could fall right in line. In 2009, $8,512,263,000 in tax revenue were collected by the U.S. government. If marijuana were legalized, regulated and taxed in the same way, I would expect to see similar numbers. Since 1997, the federal government has received over $77 billion in excise taxes. That being said, it would be expected for such laws to be enacted preventing use or intoxication while working, or driving a vehicle - which I believe current DUI/DWI laws cover already.

Not only could we create tax revenue, we could preserve tax revenue as well. in 2009 there were 1,663,241 drug-related arrests. 52.6% of which, 858,408, were marijuana related. Nearly 99 marijuana related arrests are made per hour. It costs an estimated 47 thousand dollars a year to house and feed an inmate, according to the California Department of Corrections. This means we spend a very large sum, around 40billion, annually on marijuana related incarceration.

In 2010, the Federal government has spent over 15billion dollars fighting marijuana, and the state governments considerably more at $25billion total. This is a lot of money to be spending fighting the use of marijuana - money that could go to much better uses. As most readers are aware at this time we are very close to a political meltdown here in the U.S., due to budget problems and the American debt. This is a time we need to save every penny possible, and do anything possible to create even more. There is no time like the present, and never has the U.S. needed more to take action than now.

All of this only begins to scratch the surface on why marijuana should be legal, but I hope this is enough to get you thinking, maybe do some research yourself, and possibly even pursue the topic to your local representatives - get the juices of creativity and activity flowing.

Post-Publication Edit:

A non-hubpages using friend of mine, on facebook, had this following argument on the situation:

"Considering its Damn near impossible to tax efficiently, I will go against you on this. Also you usually don't go to jail for possession. It's for large quantities, which can easily be tax fraud which is a felony, or racketeering, also federal offense."

To which I had responded:

"Of the arrests for marijuana related offenses, 99,815 were trafficking charges, 758,593 were merely possession charges. Source: "Crime in the United States 2009," FBI Uniform Crime Report (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, September 2010...), Table 29
Since by law any possession over 1oz is considered trafficking, I'd say its fair to say you CAN go to jail for just possession of small amount. Depends on local law and how far the police officer feels like taking it. Also, I was saying if they legalized it and sold it as if it were cigarettes or alcohol (in packages at specialized stores, for lower-than-average-street-price values) it would all work out. Then keep current trafficking laws in place. If you're caught selling (untaxed) weed, you're @&$!ed. Just like if you were caught selling a pack of cigarettes without the taxation stamp, or even a license to sell tobacco."


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    • Peanutritious profile image

      Tara Carbery 6 years ago from Cheshire, UK

      Great article. I live in the UK and strongly feel it should be legalised here too. If you walked down a city street at pub closing time with alcohol fuelled feral crowds brawling, you would wonder why alcohol is not seen as a dangerous drug too. I have never seen any violence commited by anyone who is stoned.

    • Jesus was a hippy profile image

      Jesus was a hippy 6 years ago from United Kingdom


      Yeah because cannabis affects people differently in different countries so experiences of its use are totally irrelevant from country to country.

      That's some pretty sound logic you have there.

    • Xnewxskinx profile image

      Xnewxskinx 6 years ago from Michigan

      I am not racist against you or where you live for that matter. I just think that on this topic your opinion does not matter to me. Considering of where you live. IF you lived in the states then yes it would matter rather you were black, white, orange, or purple. People act differently in different countries, is basically what it boils down to. I know it was mean to say it doesn't really matter what you think. I meant to say it doesn't matter (to me) what you think on this topic because geographically speaking you do not live in my country. But thank you for your opinions and research. Have a great day, and I have no idea what a paki is. :) Wait Pakistani?

    • Jesus was a hippy profile image

      Jesus was a hippy 6 years ago from United Kingdom


      Ha, nice attitude. Some guy came up to my taxi the other day and said "I don't wanna take the first taxi because he's a paki."

      I replied with "I don't wanna take you because you're a racist."

      He gave me the finger as he walked home.

    • Xnewxskinx profile image

      Xnewxskinx 6 years ago from Michigan

      Wow I just realized you're from the united kingdom, and it doesn't really matter what you think. Good day.

    • Jesus was a hippy profile image

      Jesus was a hippy 6 years ago from United Kingdom


      "could stop if they wanted, but they don't"

      So how do you know they could stop if they don't try?

      "it is only in your head"

      That's the part of the body that THC affects......

    • Xnewxskinx profile image

      Xnewxskinx 6 years ago from Michigan

      Here are some commonly asked questions for the medical marijuana law in affect for Michigan.,1607,7-132-27417_51...

    • Xnewxskinx profile image

      Xnewxskinx 6 years ago from Michigan

      Great article... There is a "grow your own" shop in the town I live in, among many other stores that sell little jars of marijuana in and around the area. It is really weird and I would have thought Michigan would have been one of the last states to vote yes to medicinal marijuana.

      To each his own.

      Although, people can say it is addictive it is not. You have to want to quit in order for it to happen. If you have an addictive personality you are more likely to become dependent on it which in turn makes you think your an addict. Nicotine, caffeine, and salt are addictive. Not Thc.. I know plenty of people who have been using for 20+ years and could stop if they wanted, but they don't. It works for them. I have never heard of anyone going into withdraw symptoms because they didn't smoke that joint. Your body may trick you into thinking you need it, but it is only in your head.

      Those are my 2 cents.

    • Jesus was a hippy profile image

      Jesus was a hippy 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      "Cannabis is a strong psychoactive plant and is well known to cause paranoid ideation"

      You don't see any problems with paranoia? As for your idea that paranoia is due to the fact it is illegal and they are worrying about being caught, that is a possibility but that wouldn't account for other paranoid thoughts such as those that someone is trying to kill you or all of your friends are plotting against you.

      I have seen a few people displaying paranoia, depression and also signs of schizophrenia (not so common). All of these people are regular smokers of cannabis and were mentally healthy before smoking.

      You seem to be stressing the point that cannabis does not CAUSE mental health problems and glossing over the fact that it does increase the possibilities of developing mental health problems.

      One of the studies I listed showed a result of a fivefold increase in depression.

      I have first hand experience of long term cannabis smokers for many years and many of those long term smokers are definitely not mentally healthy people.

      You may require studies to prove causality and not contribution, but that is irrelevant.

    • tehgyb profile image

      Don Colfax 6 years ago from Easton, Pennsylvania

      I remain skeptical that this report resolves any of the problems regarding the theory that cannabis use actually causes psychosis rather than increasing risk factors for those with a relatively high propensity for psychotic symptoms. The correlation between cannabis use and psychosis (or schizotypal symptoms) is a hot topic, and has led to an increase in funding to address the concern, in concert with increased media coverage over the last 5 years. Indeed, several related articles have been published. However, noteworthy problems in trying to prove a casual linkage between psychosis and cannabis use remain, including:

      1) Lack of epidemiological evidence. The assertion that cannabis use directly causes psychosis has not been determined through epidemiological studies. The use of cannabis in the United States and other countries starting in the 1950s and ending around 1980 increased substantially. For instance, the percentage of cannabis use went from (rough estimates) 1-5% of the population to 50% of 20-25 year olds.Clear data about the prevalence of cannabis use before 1970 is sparse, but estimates generally put the number well below 5% of the U.S. population before 1960.

      2) Confounding factors. The authors (Fergusson, Horwood, Ridder 2005) admit that there are many confounding factors when trying to establish causation between behavior and psychophysiological symptoms. A large part of their paper is dedicated to listing confounds and describing how they attempted to work around them. Although they do try to control for many with the study design (longitudinal, exclusion criteria, statistical model, etc.), factors not recognized or considered could account for the apparent connection. Perhaps the main confound that the authors attempt to address is the possibility that people who experience psychotic symptoms self-medicate or are more likely to use cannabis because of the symptoms. Although there may be cases where this is true, several studies, including this one, have begun to foreclose on the possibility that the correlation between psychotic symptoms and cannabis can be explained by psychosis causing an increase in cannabis use. Unfortunately, it will be some time before definitive answers can be given on this and other confounds.

      3) Measures of psychosis. Fergusson et al provide very little raw data and only a few tables of highly derived statistics, so one is left making assumptions about their findings. The psychosis measured was based on self reports using an instrument (set of questions in survey form) called the Symptom Checklist 90 (SCL-90), rather than DSM-IV diagnosis criteria. The researchers selected 10 questions they determined represented psychotic symptoms.The questions they chose present serious problems for measuring psychosis in this population of highly studied birth-cohort in New Zealand who were part of a 25 year longitudinal health study that asked questions about cannabis use and mental health that were used as the data for this paper. The self-reported symptom survey questions include:

      '...having ideas and beliefs that others do not share; ... feeling other people cannot be trusted; feeling that you are watched or talked about by others.'

      The list of symptoms chosen to identify psychosis may ostensibly bias the outcome measures to fit their hypothesis that psychosis is caused by cannabis use. There are two major points to be made here:

      a) Cannabis is a strong psychoactive plant and is well known to cause paranoid ideation. The researchers do not specify whether they asked the participants to exclude from their answers the periods during which they were intoxicated. Asking someone who smoked pot if they have felt paranoid recently does not give indication that the person is psychotic. In other words, paranoia associated with cannabis inebriation is ephemeral.

      b) Cannabis use is illegal. It is almost a tautology to say that cannabis users in societies where its use is strongly prohibited 'have ideas and beliefs that others do not share' and that they 'feel other people cannot be trusted'. Those who use cannabis are at risk of losing personal freedoms if arrested for possession, which is enough to make users careful about selecting those they can trust with their usage. I see no indication that the authors of this survey were aware of the possible confound that the illegal and subculture nature of the use of cannabis could be a factor in the outcome of the study.

      4) Medicinal Interactions. Although no indication is given as to whether diagnosed psychotics were identified in the study and their data considered separately, there is the possibility that people who are undergoing treatment for mental health problems may experience a negative interaction between their medication and the cannabis itself, increasing the frequency of psychotic symptoms (see below)

      This is a fairly minor point, because diagnosed psychotics should only represent a small portion of the study sample. However, it needs to be taken into consideration when evaluating a study design that looks at symptoms and relapse rates for psychosis sufferers. Some anti-psychotics -- especially haloperidol-type drugs -- are considered to be very unpleasant to take if one uses cannabis (Marchese et al. 2003; Green et al. 2004). If there is a substantial increase in side effects caused by an interaction between medications and cannabis, it is important to separate those from the more general effect of cannabis on the population. In other words, these examples suggest that cannabis use 'worsens symptoms for psychosis sufferers' rather than causes psychosis.

    • Jesus was a hippy profile image

      Jesus was a hippy 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      When was the last time I heard of a violent crime related to marijuana, never?

      I take it you never read my post with regards to a friend of mine being at the receiving end of a sharp knife thanks to a paranoid schizophrenic who was mentally healthy before he started smoking?

      Again you repeat the same logical fallacy that because alcohol and tobacco ar legal then so should cannabis.

      Cannabis is not addictive? I quit smoking cannabis after 10 years of smoking it daily and it took me more than 6 months to stop craving a joint so don't give me that about it not being adictive. I know many people that cannot quit because they are addicted to it. The withdrawal symptoms from long term use of cannabis can be overpowering and long lasting.

      As for scientific studies, you say there are none that support mental health issues? That's a bare assertion don't you think?

      Cannabis use and mental health in young people: cohort study (2002) George C Patton et al. British Medical Journal, 325:1195-1198.

      Cannabis intoxication and fatal road crashes in France: population based case control study (2005) Laumon B et al. British Medical Journal, 331, 1371-1377.

      Cannabis and educational achievement (2003) Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ & Beautrais AL. Addiction 98(12):1681-92.

      Self reported cannabis use as a risk factor for schizophrenia in Swedish conscripts of 1969: historical cohort study (2002) Zammit S, Allebeck P, Andreasson S, Lundberg I, Lewis G. British Medical Journal 2002; 325: 1199-1201.

      Cannabis use and psychosis: A longitudinal population-based study (2002) Van Os J, Bak M, Hanssen M, Bijl RV, de Graaf R, Verdoux H. American Journal of Epidemiology; 156: 319-327.

      Cannabis use in adolescence and risk for adult psychosis: longitudinal prospective study (2002) Arseneault L, Cannon M, Poulton R, Murray R, Caspi A, Moffit TE. British Medical Journal; 325: 1212-1213.

      Cannabis use and mental health in young people: cohort study (2002) Patton GC, Coffey C, Carlin JB, Degenhardt L, Lynskey M, Hall W. British Medical Journal; 325: 1195-1198

      A longitudinal study of cannabis use and mental health from adolescence to early adulthood (2000) McGee R, Williams S, Poulton R, Moffitt T. Addiction; 95: 491-503

      Mental health of teenagers who use cannabis (2002) Rey JM et al. British Journal of Psychiatry, 180, 216-221.

      Prospective cohort study of cannabis use, predisposition for psychosis and psychotic symptoms in young people. Henquet C et al British Medical Journal, 330, 11-14.

      Tests of causal linkages between cannabis use and psychotic symptoms (2005) Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ and Ridder EM Addiction, 100 (3)

      Cannabis-induced psychosis and subsequent schizophrenia-spectrum disorders: follow-up study of 535 incident cases (2005) Arendt M et al British Journal of Psychiatry, 187: 510 - 515.

      I don't mean to flood your page but I feel it necessary to point out that your claim there have been no studies on the topic is a claim due to your lack of knowledge.

      From past experience, ALL current cannabis users I have spoken to deny it causes mental health problems (including myself at the time) and many of those users, develop those problems themselves without realising it.

      And the chances of dying from ecstasy are grossly exxagerated by the media. Studies have shown the risks of dying to be between 1:15,000 and 1:150,000. (There was some dispute over the number of users).

      That's about the same chance you have as dying from playing soccer or being murdered.

      I personally think you just want it legalised because you like smoking it. You clearly haven't studied the facts since you think there have never been any studies supporting the mental health problems of the drug.

    • tehgyb profile image

      Don Colfax 6 years ago from Easton, Pennsylvania

      Jesus was a hippy, I want to start off by saying there are NO scientific studies supporting any of what you said - except for it being bad for your health (in the same way tobacco and alcohol are) As for the lesser of two evils argument, I was just stating those two are legal, why not cannabis? As for the non-inspirational properties you describe, I can't say I agree on that with you - at all. People have been using marijuana recreationally for centuries, and look where we are. Many of the world's top scholars, artists and leaders of times past were users of marijuana.

      As for why to NOT legalize the other recreational drugs? The others are immediately dangerous - many can cause death the first time you touch it. Also they are extremely addictive, and many MANY times more dangerous to your health. When is the last time you heard of someone dying from overdose on marijuana? You haven't because it is medically impossible. When was the last time you heard of some kid dying from ecstasy? Almost every other week. Figured I'd point that out. Furthermore - when is the last time you've heard of a violent crime directly attributed to someone being high on marijuana? Never? Now how about Meth? Coke? PCP?

      Google it ;P

      And before you go thinking I'm coming off aggressively, I apologize if its taken as such - I don't mean it to sound that way, just stating my opinion

    • Jesus was a hippy profile image

      Jesus was a hippy 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Cannabis is illegal for a reason. Lets just take a look at what it does, it makes you content to sit at home and do nothing instead of going out and possibly discovering something that will further the human race. It is linnke to mental health problems in some people. It can cause paranoia and schizophrenia.

      All in all, it stops people fron being productive and it can permanently damage their mental health to a point where they might be harmful to others.

      As for comparing it to alcohol and tobacco, they are both bad too and do not make cannabis any better for your health. You are using the lesser of two evils argument and we all know about that fallacy.

      I have seen people institutionalised due to prolonged use of cannabis. I have known people to be on the receiving end of paranoid delusions (that would be the receiving end of the sharp knife being thrust towards them) and I don't see what GOOD cannabis can do.

      It is a recreational drug and yes it is enjoyable and it doesn't harm anyone in the short term, but the problem is, as with most users, the mental health issues are very very subtle so they can go unnoticed until breaking point.

      If you're going to legalise a recreational drug, then why not legalise them all? Why not coke and ecstasy or meth aswell?

    • tehgyb profile image

      Don Colfax 6 years ago from Easton, Pennsylvania

      Very valid point my friend, yet its illegal for a state to pass a law going against federal law - medical marijuana laws are just a way of twisting the current federal law, and the federal government helped twist it around for them. Though, I'm not arguing your point, as it is a good one ;P

    • Scosgrove profile image

      Scosgrove 6 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      It would still be a challenge to the federal laws if a state passed a taxation/legalization amendment. As it stands, the government is allowing medical marijuana where states allow it. If a state passed an amendment for taxation/legalization, the government would then be forced to make a decision. Until it happens, we have no idea what the outcome will be.

      That's my thinking on the matter.

    • tehgyb profile image

      Don Colfax 6 years ago from Easton, Pennsylvania

      Scosgrove, While I agree with you 100% I believe, unfortunately, that California won't succeed in anything until the US as a whole does. Marijuana is still illegal on a federal level - and a state cannot make legal what the federal government says is illegal. California merely made it so on a state or local municipality's level, a law does not exist on the matter. Yet if a police officer wanted they could still arrest anyone with even the smallest amount of marijuana, for violating a federal law. I just wanted to clear this up as many people believe it is 100% legal in California.

    • Scosgrove profile image

      Scosgrove 6 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      Well written and I completely agree with you. It's time for this ridiculous prohibition to end.

      California is on the right track. Hopefully in the next election they'll pull out enough votes for a full on taxation/legalization.