In many developed countries marijuana is illegal to trade, transfer, cultivate, or possess. In as much as no nation has been able to fully legalize marijuana, over 10 countries allow its cultivation or use in controlled quantities. The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is tolerated in an increasing number of countries such as Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, Australia, and some states in America. Many nations have endorsed laws impacting the legality of marijuana, since the beginning of the 20th century. These laws have mainly concentrated on the transfer, possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana for recreational purposes. Most authorities have reduced the penalties for ownership of limited quantities of marijuana, so that marijuana related offenses are punishable by a fine and confiscation, as opposed to imprisonment. The punishments now concentrate on individuals who sell or traffic marijuana on the black market. Many drug courts and authorities have established treatment programs for frequent or young users, with their goal being to achieve freedom from drug use. The number of countries that allow marijuana use for medicinal purposes are few, in addition there are more restrictive changes being implemented in countries such as UK and Canada. Nevertheless, in some countries such as East Asia, being in possession of marijuana may result in long term jail sentences, and the sale of marijuana might even lead to life imprisonment or death penalty. This research paper addresses the history of the issue of marijuana legalization, arguments for its legalization, and arguments against its legalization.
In the 19th century, medical practitioners use to sell the drug as tincture using the name cannabis. Cannabis was used by Queen Victoria to treat her menstrual pains, Sir John Reynolds, her personal physician, prescribed this drug for her and even went further to write about the advantages of marijuana in a medical journal. In an 1894, the government of India and the United Kingdom commissioned a report on the use of Indian hemp. The report was helpful in making the decision of whether to decriminalize the use of marijuana in both countries. By 1906, numerous states in the US began establishing regulations with regards to the sale of marijuana. In 1925, the exportation of Indian hemp was banned by the international opium convention to nations that had banned its use. The countries that imported marijuana were required to provide certificates which were essential in approving that the drug was only to be used for scientific or medicinal purposes.
In 1937, the administration of F.D. Roosevelt came up with the first national law that made the possession of Marijuana illegal through an un-payable tax under the Marihuana tax act. The term marijuana is linked exclusively to the psychoactive use of the plant; it was popularized in English by the drug prohibitionists in America in the 1930s. These prohibitionists used the Mexican term marijuana so as to turn the public against the opinion that it should be legalized. The individuals who were against marijuana were oblivious of the fact that the drug was similar to cannabis indica, which was regarded as pharmaceutically safe. Nevertheless, some people support the legalization of marijuana by arguing that legalization will decrease crime, illegal trade, and will increase the revenue of government from taxes. For instance, marijuana is available in Canada as a palliative drug provided a patient has a medical prescription. In the United States, a mere 16% supported the legalization of the drug in 1969. By 2005, the figure rose up by 20% to 36%, currently it is approximated that the figure is between 46% and 56%.