Marijuana is a substance with a very rich history. Its use dates back so many years ago. It is first referred as a psychoactive agent in 2737 BC in the writings of a Chinese emperor. During this period, marijuana was basically used for various medical purposes. Some of the medical problems whose solution lay in marijuana include; rheumatism, gout, malaria and absent mindedness. These were all effectively managed by this substance. In India however, marijuana found its use in recreation as it was loved by Muslims since consumption of alcohol is prohibited by the Koran. It was from India that it eventually spread to most of the regions of the world.
1545 is the year that marijuana eventually made its way to America. Introduction of this substance in United States is credited to the Spanish who ferried it to the New World. The English were later to introduce it to Jamestown in 1611. This substance was grown as a source of fiber. By 1890, the use of marijuana as a source of fiber had been replaced by other products like cotton. At this period, marijuana was already a constituent of many drugs used for medication purposes.
Prohibition of marijuana was later to popularize it in 1920s. Jazz musicians and people involved in show business are some of the groups that found pleasure in recreational use of marijuana. This was later to spread out and joints sprang up that sold the substance mainly for recreational purposes. It is however understood that between 1937 and 1947, the American Government spent a lot of money; approximately $ 220 billion to paint this substance as the root cause of evil in the society and hence declared its use illegal (marijuana.com). It is in this respect that this research paper asserts that the war against marijuana is not issue based and marijuana should therefore be legalized.
Decongestion of the prisons
Time has come for us to ask ourselves what is best for us; whether it is the continued congestion of our prisons by marijuana users or hard core criminals. All researches in the recent past on the crimes committed by prisoners in different prisons in the entire nation point towards the direction of marijuana (Marijuana.com, 2011). It is important for all American to be open-minded throughout this crucial national debate. Our criminal justice system is not even moving closer to winning the war against recreational marijuana consumption. The war has a very long history and there is nothing to show for it. There are so many criminals in the society that are supposed to be pursued and locked down in our prison facilities. This is not happening because the facilities are filled up by marijuana offenders.
Congesting the prisons by marijuana offenders does not help improve the image of our legal system. It is very important for us to understand the painful fact that the prisons do not have any positive impact on the inmates. Marijuana offenders while in prison only serve their incarceration and thereafter win their freedom back to the streets where they continue smoking their recreational substance as if nothing ever happened (Sasha, 2010). Even more discouraging with locking down marijuana smokers in prisons is the unhidden truth that marijuana still makes its way to the prisons and therefore the so called marijuana law offenders do not pose in their consumption of this drug.
If at all anything changes, it is the cost of accessing it but not curbing its use. In order to make maximum use of our prisons, there is a need for legalization of marijuana not only for medical purposes but also for recreation where it is widely used by members of the society (Ruschmann, 2004). This way, our police will be able to go for hard criminals instead of hanging around to arrest the marijuana smoker as this has grown to become a bother to the society and not a solution to the consumption of the drug as it is supposed to be. Our prisons have a better role to play than this monotonous game that has by far and large lost purpose (Douglas & Marneffe, 2005).
It is fascinating when one takes time to go through the amount of money that is channeled to our Criminal Justice System in the fight against marijuana consumption. Billions are spent in each state to curb the use of this substance. There are so many problems that can be financed by this budgetary allocation on the fight against marijuana. Think about the fight against obesity, this is a serious problem in the society; does it get funding that is comparable to the amount spent in the fight against marijuana? The answer is a very strong NO; an indication that something is supposed to be done, attention is given to the wrong issue and there I a need for this to be corrected (Douglas & Marneffe, 2005).
There is an important aspect of the socio-economic growth and development that the anti-legalization of marijuana campaigners fails to recognize; the fact that the so many members of the society serving prison sentences as a result of breaking laws forbidding marijuana consumption have a role to play in the growth of the economy. So many people are of the impression that marijuana users are social misfits, people without any contribution in the economic growth. However, the truth is different; doctors, teachers, engineers, architectures, accountants, to mention but a few are all rotting in our prison facilities. We should be asking ourselves if these people were not performing their professional duties or the consumption of marijuana impacted negatively on their discharge of duties prior to their arrest and sentence (Sasha, 2010).
The reality of the matter differs with this thought totally; there is no reflection of these thoughts with what is seen. There are so many professionals who are perfectly discharging their duties while using marijuana; the only difference between them and their incarcerated peers is the fact that whereas they are still free to contribute towards economic growth while their counterparts in the prisons have been denied a chance to do so. The war on marijuana therefore not only robs the economy of its already gathered resources by directly channeling what it has to the Criminal Justice System but also locking out able men and women from making their contribution towards the building of a strong economy.
There is therefore a need for legalization of marijuana in order to allow these people to continue making their contribution to the economy and hence feel more appreciated. It is a degradation of their economic capacity by locking them in the prisons thinking that they will leave those facilities better man and women when the truth is different. These are normal ordinary men and women whose services are an asset to the society and the economy; let us not convert them to liabilities bearing in mind the big names that have made their way to prisons due to marijuana smoking.
Legalizing marijuana will greatly boost the economy through increased tax revenue collection. A research carried out in the state of California revealed that tax from a $ 14 billion industry went uncollected annually due to failure to legalize recreation marijuana consumption (Inciardi, 1999). The same research went ahead to explain that 300,000 citizens of this state were already users of medical marijuana. This gives a vivid picture of what the country looses in tax due to its failure to legalize marijuana. The economy therefore stands to benefit a lot from legalization of marijuana as it is the case with cigarettes and alcohol. Once marijuana is legalized, legislations will be formulated that will give a guideline on how the respective states will be able to earn revenue from this trade. It is true that many fear that it would be complicated to collect tax from this trade. This is however in essence one of the many fears surrounding marijuana and would be demystified once the legislation that legalizes marijuana in the country becomes enacted.
The fact that other drugs like tobacco and alcohol are legal and tax revenue is earned from them is enough evidence that support from all free minded citizens is what is needed in order to have the wheel rolling and hence see our economy growing strongly by tapping this money that ends up in individuals’ hands. It no longer time to continue with the kind of hypocrisy that constitutes the fight against legalization of marijuana. Tax revenue from marijuana will be as important as is that from any other industry. We have to accept the truth, our economy has traces of money from marijuana and what is needed is to have a framework that will enable us to cut the roots of criminals who have illegally been benefiting from the trade without paying tax. Failure to earn this revenue as long as the industry is still illegal makes the government to be the looser in this game. The revenue collected from this industry is what should be used to take care of the victims of drug abuse. Even with marijuana as illegal as it is, the government expenditure on the victims of drug abuse is high, yet the fight itself no matter how strong it is does not at any point move closer to success (Pudney, 2010)
The fight against marijuana has always benefited few individuals in the society. Marijuana traffickers, just like other drug dealers are well connected people in the society. This is the main reason for the lack of success in the war. As we continue with the fight, we create more wealthy individuals in the society through this trade. It no secret that money from marijuana, just like other illicit drugs goes a long way in funding election campaigns in the country (Douglas & Marneffe, 2005). This is the main reason for this scrupulous leaders’ continued campaign against legalization of marijuana. Their interest in the anti-marijuana campaign is strongly embodied in their personal interest; they want to ensure the industry is illegal so that they can continue to blackmail the drug barons into giving them money. Time has come for able men and women to realize the need to embrace legalization of this industry to end this form of corruption in our state offices (Mares, 2009).
Our Criminal Justice System is another corruption overwhelmed sector that benefits from illegalization of marijuana. The police and other law enforcers all earn money through fraudulent means and always support the anti-marijuana legalization campaign. Do you ever take your time to find out how marijuana makes its way to our correctional facilities? Corruption is usually the way to go and it can only be fought by addressing the source; we should not continue to pretend that marijuana is bad when indeed those sending such messages rely on them in order to earn an illegal income through corruption (Mirion & Zwibel, 1995). It is therefore vital that we close all avenues through which corruption retards our ability to formulate effective policies. It is only this way that we shall say we are in the right direction towards the fight against the negative effects of marijuana. We must therefore legalize the drug and then focus our efforts on addressing the negative effects that a few individuals may show as a result of the use of the drug. We can always learn from the situation in Netherland in our attempt to better our policies regarding marijuana consumption (Pudney, 2010).
Legalization of marijuana will pave way to formulation of key legislations that will be crucial in the effective management of the drug (Inciardi, 1999). Critical legislations will give the definition of the minimum age required for one to be able to use this drug. This will be important in protection of the rights of all members of the society. Just pose to think about the role of children in the illegal marijuana trade. The picture painted is such a worrying one. Minors are used in pushing the drug. However, once the drug is legalized, it will mean that there are no more secret dealings which are central in employment of minors in pushing the drug. Legalized use of the drug will give the definition of where the drug can be purchased, whether in operating drug stores or new ones specifically meant for marijuana. This way, one will be able to access the drug with a lot of ease without having to put the life of other citizens at risk.
Another important of regulation is that the rights of those who do not use the substance will be respected. This way, smoking zones will be defined by the legislation and therefore a user will not only know where to go for the drug but also where and when to use it. This way, many lives will be saved as illegal access to the drug and consumption usually put so many people at risk. Fights that often erupt in the secret marijuana bases will be there no more. These fights occur quite often and are a reason for speedy measures to be taken in order to protect the involved citizens. As mentioned earlier, an American citizen is a valued asset of the state and his/ her life should not be put at risk whatsoever the case. It is the declaration of the drug as illegal that goes further to create all the social crimes that we witness. Let there be regulations to guide the trade and all will be well (Gerber, 2004). We have had fights erupting in restaurants and other social places, what is usually important is addressing the aftermath and putting measures to curb resurgence of the same. This is what we need to see even in the marijuana industry and not the simplistic argument that marijuana is the root cause of uncountable social problems. The society will always play host to social misfits and this should not be used to deny good citizens their access to what gives them happiness.
Danger from violent black market criminals
Leaving marijuana in the hands of violent black market criminals is creating insecurity in the country. No one can estimate the cost of what these dangerous criminals are capable of. For how long are we going to sit back and watch as young men and women are hacked to death by these criminals? The people dying are innocent people, only trying to kill their hunger for the drug but due to tight legislations that outlaw the use of marijuana, they are forced to use fraudulent means to get it. This lands them in the hand of these dangerous criminals who do not have any respect or value for human life. To them, it is simple; you either cooperate or lose your life. So many young people are being wasted by these drug pushers since once you get an orientation, they do not let you go away after the purchase, they expect you to create a new for them to a new market, that is network for them. This is the major route through which marijuana makes its way to schools. The only protection that the society can get is legalization of marijuana so that these forced involvements into the use and later marketing of the drug will be countered (Pudsey, 2010).
Acceptance in medication
So far, 15 states have legalized what they call medical marijuana. These states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Michigan, and Washington State, New Mexico among others. This is a positive move towards legalization of marijuana for recreation as well. It must be pointed that the figures for medical marijuana users has been growing significantly in the states where it is legal (marijuana.com, 2011). It is also proven that the support for marijuana legalization has risen by over 25% since 1995 (Sasha, 2010). This is an indication that the people have come to accept the reality, that is, marijuana is there to stay forever and not a mere passerby. It is this support that Pro 19 lacked at the time of its introduction and hence was defeated. The growing awareness on the need to legalize marijuana speaks of itself. People are tired of living a life of denial and illusion. Concerned parents are no longer willing to hide their inability to stop their sons and daughters from smoking pot and instead want a shift in the manner in which they do it. Their security is now what they are interested in and of course are ready to invest in. They want the situation to be no different with that taking the drug for medication; that are free to march to licensed drug stores, present their cards and have the drug sold to them (Pudney, 2010).
Once marijuana is legalized, dealers will be able to own licenses that will enable them to legally carry out marijuana business. These people will therefore do their best to safeguard their licenses since involvement in any other kind of drug business other than marijuana will see them arrested and their licenses revoked. This will therefore help in reduction of pushing of other drugs like cocaine, heroin among others that are illegal (Gerber, 2004).
Debate on the legalization of marijuana has often received mixed reactions from pro-legalization campaigners and the anti-legalization groups. Majority of those in support of legalization are marijuana users with the support of prospective farmers. This group believes that they stand to benefit a lot from a free environment as opposed to the current one that pushes them to carry out their activities in great secrets and when discovered, they have to spend their time behind bars for a considerable period of time. The anti-legalization campaign team is composed of the conservatives who question the moral virtues in the use of marijuana. It is however evident that the society will benefit more once marijuana is legalized when compared to the woes that define the illegal environment in which this business is practiced.