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Crime and Social Policy

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The first documented case regarding the use of marijuana, also known as cannabis sativa, dates back to about 2500 B.C. It was noted among the ancient Chinese cultures that the discovered plant produced a mild euphoria when ingested, and thus was considered as an effective pain reliever. From that time, the use of marijuana as a pain reliever spread to other cultures not only in China, but also around the world. According to the statistics of the United Nations, marijuana is considered as the most widely used illicit substance around the world (Rowe, 2006). In the United States, for instance, marijuana was introduced during the institution of the British colonies in the Northern part of America. Doctors commonly used the substance for inducing appetite and as a pain reliever. However, some citizens used marijuana as a recreational substance. This prompted the Federal Government to conduct studies about the use and effects of marijuana. The findings actually revealed that the production of marijuana and its use were harmful to the Americans` culture and morality. As a result, the Federal Government established the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 which was supposed to introduce high taxes to the marijuana industry, and eventually lead to the termination of the substance use and production in the country (Rowe, 2006).

However, the introduction of this act marked the start of the controversies regarding the use of marijuana. For instance, the American Medical Association was totally against the legislation because of the high medicinal value the substance contained. However, the government continued with its efforts and in 1950’s it instituted compulsory fines and jail sentences for possession and distribution of marijuana (Rowe, 2006, p.26). Less strict marijuana policies were introduced in the 1970s, but these did not last for long as they encountered strong opposition from the reigning presidents. Currently, two controversial sides regarding marijuana exist - those who are for the legalization and those against it. However, it is important to note that some states like California have legalized the use of marijuana.

Statement of Purpose

The war regarding the production, distribution and use of drugs is one of the most expensive battles, since a great deal of resources are required to detect those involved in this trade, prosecute them and house them in a prison. Besides, the controversies concerning the legalization of such drugs have generated heated debates. This research is based on the fact that there have been numerous controversies regarding the legalization of marijuana. From the documented research and case studies, some of the arguments that have been brought forward regarding the reasons as to why marijuana should be legalized include the claim that this substance contains medicinal values, such as pain relieving that can be of help to cancer patients and the fact that its legalization would help reduce illegal crimes (Messerli, 2011). Indeed some countries have gone forward to legalize marijuana.

However, others stand with the fact that this substance should be illegalized considering the lethal effects it has on human health, among other numerous factors (Messerli, 2011). Despite the numerous studies that have been conducted with regard to this substance, drawing a general conclusion that would incorporate the arguments from both sides has proved difficult. Most countries have remained adamant and maintained the laws that are against the legalization of the substance. Besides, there are various drug policies put in place to control the use of drugs. This research will therefore look at the arguments from the both sides of those who are in support of the legalization of marijuana, and those who are against; the drug policies which have been implemented in various countries to curb the use of the substance will be also considered. The SAMSA National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), carried out in 1999, revealed that in the United States marijuana is the main drug being regularly used by around 75 percent of the present illegal drug users.

Description of Research Methods and Materials

This research will use secondary data, which involves a critical analysis of the previous research works including case studies to identify the arguments that have been brought forward with regard to the topic of study. Numerous research studies and case studies have been conducted regarding the legalization of marijuana and the drug policies, which have been put in place to control the same. In addition, the case studies have been well presented to support the arguments brought forward. This study will consider both sides of the argument, the policies that have been implemented and will then draw conclusions using the arguments that have been provided. This will as well be supported using the case studies conducted in the previous research studies. To avoid biased results, different studies will be considered and explored in order to identify the perspectives of different researchers with regard to the topic of the study. Basically, this will be a case study analysis.

Literature Review

The topic on the legalization of marijuana has been the subject of discussion and argument for decades. Scholars have deferred greatly on whether or not marijuana should be legalized. Some intellectuals argue that the pros of legalizing marijuana are much more compared to the cons, while the opponents put forward that legalizing the drug will only bring more harm to the society and the users.

Reasons behind the Legalization of Marijuana

It is evident that the society is unhappy with the current efforts to stop illegal drug smuggling, supply and use, while people are not aware of the solution to this problem. Owing to the augmented drug use, drug connected crimes, and the inability of the government to bring to an end the illegal drug use, the majority of people argue that in order to lessen certain immoral behaviours and improve positive outcomes the drug use should be legalized and controlled. In this case, the legalization of marijuana in the United States and other countries around the world would considerably minimize crimes in the cities and besides, will form a community that is more industrious through its positive usage (Klein, 2009). It is true that many crimes are linked to the use of drugs including financial and physical crimes. As a result, crimes that would result from legalizing marijuana would be less destructive and minimal in the community, as compared to murder, violence, mayhem and theft, which are the daily bread especially in the United State and other nations presently.

Many Americans want marijuana to be legalized as a result of the amplified government spending on drugs and war (Messerli, 2011). They believe that the cost of maintaining marijuana is extremely expensive. For instance, in the United States the federal, state and local governments recently use billions of dollars every year to fight against the use of marijuana. In 1980 the federal government used one billion dollar, while the local and state government used four and three billion dollars correspondingly on marijuana, and this means that currently they may be using roughly ten billion dollars on marijuana (Klein, 2009). Another benefit of legalizing the drug is that it would be a source of revenue to the government through taxation. In essence, legalization would give the government an augmented control over the influence and purity of marijuana, and this may be attained by regulating the global drug trade more efficiently.

The proponents of legalization of marijuana also put forward that people should be given freedom to make their own choice, including the usage of marijuana (Klein, 2009). Study verifies that marijuana is not an addictive drug as other drugs, like alcohol and tobacco which are legal in most countries (Klein, 2009). Statistics also reveal that, since its existence to today, marijuana has not led to any incident of death. For that reason, the government ought to concentrate on fighting other harmful legal drugs that have jeopardized persons’ lives and the entire society and give individuals liberty to make their choices.

It is also evident from the existing illegalization policies that it is hard to attain the desired objective to stop the use of a drug. Prohibition of alcohol has not in any way worked, since people are still taking alcohol regardless of how dangerous this substance is to our health. Therefore, there is no logical basis to argue out that prohibition of marijuana will be a better idea in controlling the use of this drug, especially among the college students. In fact, illegalizing marijuana has not stopped people from taking it, since the estimates highlight that over 25 million people use marijuana annually in the United States (Rudolf, 2004). It would even be a better idea if the government allowed the legalization of marijuana, at the same time introducing heavy taxes to the users, so it would become difficult for them to access and afford it.

There are also medical benefits associated with the use of marijuana. In its natural form, marijuana is considered to be one of the harmless therapeutically active drugs available to a man (Messerli, 2011). It can be used safely, following a strictly supervised schedule of a medical care. Furthermore, medical practitioners have proved that excessive intake of marijuana contain no adverse effects other than the mere sleeping. The only proved negative effect of marijuana comes as a result of its smoke that contains more carbon dioxide compared to tobacco (Rudolph, 2004). It is proven that marijuana relieves nausea, especially among the cancer patients undertaking powerful chemotherapy. Patients suffering from AIDS and multiple sclerosis can also use it. In addition, marijuana is proved as an effective treatment of glaucoma, due to its ability to lower the eye pressure.

Reasons against the Legalization of Marijuana

On the other hand, some scholars who argue against the legalization of marijuana offer various reasons to support their side. Firstly, marijuana is linked with health problems. Studies have revealed that smoking marijuana usually deposits almost two to four times more tar into the lungs, compared to a filtered cigarette (Ballot Question Committee, 2006). Furthermore, smoking three joints of marijuana per day can lead to more problems of the respiratory system than smoking a full packet of cigarettes daily. Research also indicates that the smoke of marijuana has fifty to seventy percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons compared to tobacco smoke (Ballot Question Committee, 2006).

Moreover, some opponents argue that legalizing marijuana will increase the crime rates in the society (Messerli, 2011). This is evidenced by the facts that people who are involved in the illegal buying, selling and usage of the drug are more probable to involve themselves in other crimes. With this, the opponents believe that the society will be much safer when marijuana trade and its use remain illegal and the offenders incarcerated.  

It is also true that crime, violence, and drug use go hand-in-hand. Individuals who are using drugs and those who are searching for money to buy such drugs usually commit crimes such as homicides. In fact, research has shown that these individuals commit six times as many crimes as others (Messerli, 2011). However, studies have indicated that individuals under drug influence other than those looking for ways to purchase the drugs commit most of the crimes.

Laws that prohibit the use of marijuana usually send a message to the minors that marijuana is a harmful drug. As a result, legalizing of marijuana will increase it usage by young people. This is evidenced by the fact that, when Alaska allowed the private use of the drug, the percentage of minors who used the drug rose rapidly to twice the country’s average. A study carried out in Canada indicated that the nation’s liberal marijuana policies have resulted in Canadian youth topping all other nations for frequent use of marijuana. The lead researcher attributes the increased use to availability, affordability and acceptability (Ballot Question Committee, 2006). In Netherlands, after the legalization of marijuana its consumption among the youth, especially between eighteen to twenty years, tripled. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Managers Supervisors Association, the Nevada Sheriffs’ and Chiefs’ Association  and the Las Vegas Police Protective Association Metro suppose that criminals who are gaining a lot from  illegal drug sales would not  be out of trade, as they will probably augment their efforts to increase the number of minor users (Ballot Question Committee, 2006). Countrywide, Marijuana was concerned in over 215, 000 emergency department visits affecting an already loaded emergency care system.

Drug Policies

During the year of 1988 when Ronald Regan was the president of the United States, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 was put into effect with an objective of generating a free drug United States of America. The initiative was triggered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) that had the responsibility of setting and implementing national strategy in addition to setting budgets (Legalizationofmarijuana.com, 2011). The act had the purpose of decreasing drug trafficking, drug abuse and their outcomes. Particularly, to curb drug abuse, young people should be prevented from using prohibited drugs, drug availability and the number of users should be also reduced.

Since its start the Office of National Drug Control Policy has been given wider powers. In addition to that, the organization`s director currently coordinates, assesses and also oversees domestic and global anti-drug hard work of administrative branch agencies. Moreover, the organization also ensures that the activities are constant and that state level activities should complement them. The president is advised by the director concerning the transformation in the budgeting, management, organization and the Federal Agency personnel who could be engaged in the anti-drug attempts and the execution of the Federal Agencies in the strategy (Legalizationofmarijuana.com, 2011).

The organization in conjunction with the Act 1988, which instigated it, have since then been the American powerhouse on the war against drug use. Moreover, there has been numerous updates to the Office of National Drug Control Policy regarding the superseding years which are all on the Office of National  Drug Control Policy’s site (Legalizationofmarijuana.com, 2011). For the site to be decipherable, it merely center on shortening the 2010 National Drug Control Strategy. A new balanced approach is promised by the most recent strategy, where Obama pledges on the restoration of balance in the fight of drug problem that has distressed our communities.

The main aim of the 2010 Drug Control Strategy encompasses:

•          To build up efforts to stop the use of drugs in the communities

•          Request for early involvement in Health Care opportunities

•          Rupture the sequence of use of drugs, wrongdoing and imprisonment

•          Interrupt the production and trafficking of domestic drug

•          Building up global partnerships

•          Develop the systems of information for assessment, management and analysis

•          Expand recovery support and add substance treatment into health care

(Legalizationofmarijuana.com, 2011).

By 2015, they are looking to:

•          Reduce illegal consumption of drugs in America

•          Enhance public safety and public health of Americans by decreasing the outcomes of the drugs` abuse.

In 2011, the Office of National Control Policy requested 15.5 billion U. S. dollars so as to decrease the use of drugs and its outcomes in America. Finishing the term ‘war on drugs’ is the only America’s adjustment to its drug policy that was brought about in 1971 by Richard Nixon, which Obama states not to be productive.

In the book of Jack Herer, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, the author explains why cannabis is illegal. During the mid 1930’s machines used for conserving hemp’s high-cellulose pulp and the novel hemp stripping machines lastly became modern, accessible and inexpensive; huge timber lands and business like the Kimberly Clark [USA], St. Regis, Hearst Paper Manufacturing Division and nearly all paper, newspapers and timber companies lost a lot of money and possibly went bankrupt. Plastic made from coal and oil had been unproved by DuPont, and a sulfite procedure was employed in making paper that came from wood pulp (Legalizationofmarijuana.com, 2011). According to historians and DuPont’s corporate records the processes rated above 80% of the car loadings of the company and the railroad in the 1990’s.

The thrilling, and probably amazing fact at the start was that marijuana was not a serious problem according to Anslinger (Rudolph, 2004). Concurring with DuPont and Hearst anti-marijuana campaign of 1934, he began to focus particularly on marijuana in his greater aim of prohibiting all drugs. Anslinger greatly employed the headlines on Hearst including ‘Marijuana killing the youths’ and according to him, marijuana was the main violence triggering drug in the entire history of human beings (Rowe, 2006). Nevertheless, the congress reacted to this by adopting the marijuana tax act in 1937. In the United States the most recent news regarding the legalization of marijuana is the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010. This is in the preposition 19 of the California ballot. The aim of the Act is to put the responsibility for regulating the use of marijuana on the local government and allow it to enforce and collect fees and taxes in addition to sanctioning an array of civil and criminal penalties.

The fact that marijuana is believed to be harmful to the lives of many Americans instigated the Federal Government to establish the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, which was supposed to introduce high taxes to the marijuana industry, and eventually lead to the termination of the use and production of marijuana in the country (Rowe, 2006). However, the introduction of this Act marked the start of the controversies regarding the use of marijuana. For instance, the American Medical Association was totally against this legislation because of the high medicinal value the substance contained. However, the government continued with its efforts and in 1950’s it instituted compulsory fines and jail sentences for possession and distribution of marijuana (Rowe, 2006). Less strict marijuana policies were introduced in the 1970s, but those did not last for a long time as they encountered strong opposition from the reigning presidents.

The Australian National Drug Strategy 2010-2015 is a drug strategy framework that has been outline by the Australian Ministerial Council to address alcohol and other drugs use. The main objective of the National Drug Strategy is to assist in building healthy and safe communities through the lessening and minimization of alcohol and other drugs linked health, economic and social harms amongst communities, families and individuals (NIDAC, 2009). The overarching procedure to harm minimization that has steered the National Drug Strategy from the time when it was set up will persist through 2010-2015. The approach encompasses three pillars including demand reduction, supply reduction and harm reduction which are underpinned by amplified commitments to build personnel capability, innovation and evaluation, performance measurement, and building linkages across sectors.

It is apparent from the above that, the war regarding production, distribution and use of drugs is one of the most expensive battles, since a great deal of resources are required to detect those involved in this trade, prosecute them and put them in jail. Besides, the controversies concerning the legalization of such drugs have generated heated debates. According to some proponents, marijuana should be legalized as it contains medicinal values like a pain relieving effect that can be of help to cancer patients, and its legalization would help reduce illegal crimes. Nevertheless, others stand with the fact that it should be illegalized, considering the lethal effects it has on human health, among other numerous factors. Most countries have remained adamant and maintained the laws that are against the legalization of the substance. Besides, there are various drug policies put in place in different countries in order to control and curb the use of illicit drugs. In fact, some countries have policies which legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal use whereas other countries implemented strict laws against it. 

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