This has been an issue in which I have evolved my opinion. When I was in kindergarten, I was told that drugs are bad by pretty much all of the adults in my life. The school made us pledge not to do drugs, and there were even signs erected on school property that outlawed drugs on school grounds. This is something I believed, and took seriously as a result. I was first exposed to peers smoking cigarettes and marijuana in 6th grade. Back then, peer pressure wasn’t that high, so it was very easy to avoid the problem. As I got older, the pressure mounted, and many of my peers at least tried it. I wasn’t the most outgoing person, and I surely wasn’t a party animal. This helped me avoid those kinds of situations.
By the time I was in high school, many guys and girls smoked marijuana. It was at this time I thought marijuana was bad for a person (and studies confirm this somewhat). I never understood why people wanted to get high so badly that they would damage their lungs at the very least. At this time I was staunchly opposed to marijuana smoking, inhalation, or any other form of ingestion.
As I grew older, my opinion became less extreme, and eventually switched completely as I gained valuable insight into the subject. I will share some of this information with you in this article. So I present five reasons why I think marijuana should be legalized in the United States of America.
We first need to understand what effects marijuana has on a person. When a person smokes it, it damages their lungs like a cigarette or cigar. This has effects on a person’s fitness and voice over time, and can breed lung cancer. Also, studies have shown that a teenager ingesting marijuana on a regular basis will lose about eight IQ points by the time they are in their mid to late forties. This could be due to an actual physical difference in their brain or the fact that they may lose some of their motivation to live up to their potential. However, despite these things, marijuana is not as bad for a person as tobacco or alcohol. Tobacco is bad enough by itself, but in cigarettes there are about 40 toxins added to it. Alcohol can seriously damage one’s liver over time, and drunkenness kills people, whereas being high will not. Although your senses and ability to reason will be impaired while under the influence of marijuana, it is a depressant, which calms people down. They are not as likely to do crazy things, and this does not even consider the medicinal properties of marijuana.
The first reason I believe marijuana should be legalized is because it would help the economy. This could happen on the national level and the local level. Firstly, instead of the Mexican cartels and growers getting the money for it, our farmers could grow it like they grow tobacco. This does two things; it reduces costs of transport and increases our GDP. I can imagine politicians or the private agricultural sector getting creative in creating jobs with this.
This brings me to my next point; the government can tax and regulate marijuana in a similar manner to tobacco. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) can transfer jobs from policing marijuana to transport and distribution of the drug. This is great because the border would not be as dangerous, helping to keep our agents alive and well.
Taxing marijuana would be easy. The government can slap the same kind of taxes on marijuana as they do with tobacco and alcohol. On a local level, there would be the sales tax as well as the “sin tax” associated with alcohol and tobacco. This could generate a lot of revenue for the country, on at least the federal and local levels. The local level could also benefit from not needing the same amount of police presence in some places. Many people are incarcerated in jails and prisons simply because of marijuana. If you have less police, taxes could decrease, giving people more spending money to help the private sector.
The second reason I believe marijuana should be legalized is because the prison industrial complex (PIC) is bloated. We need to cut off its main source of fat. Too many people are locked up annually and subjected to real crimes when they are arrested for the victimless crime of possession. Probation departments also get a share of this revenue. This is probably more of a special interest issue, as the PIC would oppose this. When an average individual goes to prison for possession or distribution, they are placed in the general population with other criminals. They are put at risk for violence, rape, and other criminal activity. This list is what tax dollars go to: extra police power, DEA border patrol agents, court costs, probation departments, and all of the businesses that are in with the PIC. We can effectively reduce all of that by simply legalizing weed.
The third reason I believe pot should be legalized, is to reduce the instances of police brutality, police misconduct, and the overall negative opinion of police officers nationwide. If police officers were not arresting people for what many believe a stupid reason to be arrested, then tensions between police officers and the general public will wane. If the tension is lowered, there would be a less belligerent and ticked off public, resulting in less physical skirmishes between officers and civilians. Police would have less of an excuse to fight people. Also, if marijuana were to be legalized, police would not be able to plant the drug on people, or even harass them to search their vehicles. Why would an officer need to search your vehicle for weed when it is legal? The 4th Amendment would not be the center of the exchanges between officers and the public as often. This is not to say that police officers should not pull a person over for marijuana-related offenses ever. A person could be given a ticket for driving under the influence of marijuana. Job sites should still make sure their laws stay the same regarding marijuana, particularly jobs where machinery is operated. There should not be marijuana breaks (analogous to smoke breaks), and employees should not smoke marijuana during their lunch breaks.
The next reason I believe marijuana should be legalized is that Prohibition did not work in the 20’s, and it isn’t working now. The “industry” is as popular as ever, which is why the cartels are so powerful. People are not going to stop wanting pot, so why give the foreign gangs power when that power can rest solely with our government? In the 20’s people would have much rather have gone to Jack Daniels for their booze, but they went to Al Capone instead. The same thing is happening now. I am sure people would like to drive to the store or gas station and pick up a pack of Marlboro’s than the underhanded process that goes on now. There is way too much stress involved for all parties in the equation. This is why history is so important, because we can learn from it (apparently we have not).
The last reason that marijuana should be allowed in my opinion is because the government should not regulate what a person does to their own body, especially if the behavior in question is relatively harmless. The government does not tell women they cannot have abortions, or that athletes should not play hockey or football. There are risks involved, and in America, we are all about our freedom. I am not trying to make this too political, but it amazes me that a group of people claim to want less government but want the government to regulate social/private issues. They want fewer taxes, but unnecessary government. Marijuana is not like meth, or crack. Marijuana is one of the tamest drugs out there, and it is illegal.
After years of gathering this information, these facts have changed my mind about whether or not marijuana should be legalized. Legalizing pot could help the economy, keep the prisons from being overpopulated, reduce instances of police misconduct, aligns itself with the 21st Amendment (repealing of the 18th Amendment, which outlawed the production, distribution, and sale of alcoholic beverages), and the government would get out of our personal lives. This is a law that needs to change, but it cannot be changed without awareness of the issue and people willing to get it changed.