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Why I Believe Legalization of Marijuana Should Occur
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!
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.
- Angry/Violent Drunks
- Happy/Funny/"I love you guys" Drunks
Depressed or Upset Drunks
I also believe there are only two types of marijuana users.
- Happy/Funny yet Lazy users
- 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 $25billion total. This is a lot of money to be spending fighting the use of marijuana - money that could go to much better uses. As most readers are aware at this time we are very close to a political meltdown here in the U.S., due to budget problems and the American debt. This is a time we need to save every penny possible, and do anything possible to create even more. There is no time like the present, and never has the U.S. needed more to take action than now.
All of this only begins to scratch the surface on why marijuana should be legal, but I hope this is enough to get you thinking, maybe do some research yourself, and possibly even pursue the topic to your local representatives - get the juices of creativity and activity flowing.
A non-hubpages using friend of mine, on facebook, had this following argument on the situation:
"Considering its Damn near impossible to tax efficiently, I will go against you on this. Also you usually don't go to jail for possession. It's for large quantities, which can easily be tax fraud which is a felony, or racketeering, also federal offense."
To which I had responded:
the arrests for marijuana related offenses, 99,815 were trafficking
charges, 758,593 were merely possession charges. Source: "Crime in the
United States 2009," FBI Uniform Crime Report (Washington, DC: US Dept.
of Justice, September 2010...), Table 29
Since by law any possession over 1oz is considered trafficking, I'd say its fair to say you CAN go to jail for just possession of small amount. Depends on local law and how far the police officer feels like taking it. Also, I was saying if they legalized it and sold it as if it were cigarettes or alcohol (in packages at specialized stores, for lower-than-average-street-price values) it would all work out. Then keep current trafficking laws in place. If you're caught selling (untaxed) weed, you're @&$!ed. Just like if you were caught selling a pack of cigarettes without the taxation stamp, or even a license to sell tobacco."