Will Beatrez `15
Ever since the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed, the question has been lingering: is there justification for the government to regulate cannabis? Almost 30 years after that, the federal government began issuing strict penalties for marijuana-related crimes. Many argue that issuing drug laws violates personal rights, and that “victimless crimes” should not warrant any penalty. On the flipside, drugs have been shown to be extremely harmful to the body and promote behavior that is negatively influential to others. The question today has no clear answer, so let’s take a more in-depth look at both sides.
For Legalization of Marijuana
Michael Potraz `14
In November 2012, Colorado and Washington made headlines when they passed preliminary acts legalizing recreational cannabis in controlled amounts. Since then, the debate over nationwide marijuana legalization has been sparked. The movement for nationwide legalization is beginning to gain momentum, as more and more people begin to accept it. The reason for this may be that there are many tempting pros of legalizing marijuana and not too many cons. One well-reasoned argument is that if the government took control of marijuana distribution, it could reap valuable profit by taxing the substance. An independent study conducted by the Colorado Center on Law & Policy concluded that the state of Colorado may generate an additional $60 million by simply taxing and distributing recreational marijuana. This potential money is tempting for many states, such as California, who are seeking to recover from the recent economic troubles. Additionally, many pro-legalization advocates argue that cannabis is less harmful than traditional, legal substances such as tobacco and alcohol. According to a study by the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation, tobacco alone is responsible for killing 6 million people every year. Additionally, alcoholism is a leading cause of death and depression in the United States and across the world. Conversely, marijuana was ranked as less addictive than caffeine by Dr. Henningfield of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Many pro-legalization advocates also argue that legalizing marijuana will reduce drug trafficking across the U.S. border. This holds true because of the simple rule of supply and demand. Without the demand for smuggled marijuana, drug lords will have no incentive to move marijuana across our border. This would lead to a decrease of violence and smuggling around our boarder. Many anti-legalization advocates will argue that cannabis is a damaging drug, especially to the brain. However, a recent study conducted by the University of California in San Diego School of Medicine failed to prove that marijuana causes permanent brain damage. Additionally, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology actually showed that obesity rates were lower in marijuana users than in non-users.
Marijuana legalization will continue to be a controversial topic in the coming years, but it seems that the pro-legalization numbers are growing. People are beginning to realize that marijuana is not as harmful as they thought it was. In fact, they are seeing that it is actually less harmful than many common, legal drugs. It is not unreasonable to say that marijuana will be legal in a majority of the country within the next few years. A catalyst for this may be Colorado if they are particularly successful in distributing and profiting off of marijuana sales. Once the rest of the country sees Colorado and eventually Washington profiting, the rest of the states will follow.
Against Legalization of Marijuana
Andrew Copa `15
The legalization of marijuana is a highly contested subject in today’s evolving world. In my eyes, this is just another step in the continual corruption of traditional values and moral standards in America and around the world. Along with the breakdown of values comes the many risks that marijuana brings to the lives of its users and their loved ones with no reward whatsoever. Cannabis is an illegal drug in all but two states for a reason. It’s dangerous! Often, the supporters of the legalization of this horrid substance attempt to claim that there are no harms caused by itsuse. This claim is fictitious in every sense. Marijuana is mainly used due to an individual’s desire to get high. This process in itself is a great danger to both users and those around them as marijuana impairs the user’s brain functions which causes for slower processing leading to deadly outcomes such as car accidents (abovetheinfluence.com). According to a study, it was found that those who use marijuana “…generally report lower life satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health, relationship problems, and less academic and career success compared to their peers who came from similar backgrounds” (drugabuse.gov). This statistic alone should be a huge red flag to anyone in support of the legalization of this dangerous drug. In addition, cannabis is also known as a gateway drug. Itis addictive and this addiction can sometimes lead to individuals desiring a stronger “high” sensation. This leads them to drugs such as cocaine and heroine which are extremely dangerous in any setting. With all of this negative information on marijuana, it is hard to believe how anyone could desire this destructive drug to be legal.
Pro-legalization activists make many arguments for their cause that just do not add up. For example, many activists claim that marijuana is no worse than tobacco or alcohol and because of this it should be legal. Attempting to justify marijuana by claiming there are already things just as bad as it that are legal is a ridiculous claim. They are basically saying that the only way to fix something bad is to make it worse. Another common argument is that Americans should be free to act as they please. I do not disagree with the claim that Americans should be a free people. However, when lives are placed in danger by a certain freedom it must be restricted. Overall, the use of cannabis seems to have far more negatives that positives. With that in mind, the legalization of marijuana is a preposterous idea that should be shut down at all costs. Be above the influence.