The Marijuana Paradox


by Grant Kerby

I do not condone drug use of any kind whatsoever; however, I do not consider marijuana a drug. A vast majority of Americans share this opinion. According Kristen Gwynne’s Rolling Stone Politics’ article, the statistics in favor of legalization are at an all time high, fifty-two percent (par. 1). I understand and accept that marijuana has a particular social stigma associated with it. Stereotyping is an illegitimate practice but it is deeply engrained in our culture and has roots that date back far beyond any of our years. Attempting to remove a stereotype is equivalent of attempting to take away someone’s opinion. It is nearly impossible. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, this is my opinion; coincidentally it is supported by more than half of the United States. Marijuana should be legalized nationwide.

I am not oblivious to people judging me or for that matter misjudging me. Despite the age-old idiom, don’t judge a book by its’ cover, people judge people. Making judgments, based upon appearance or little more than appearance, is naturally a part of human nature. I could ask you to stop blinking, you can try but you can’t. Well, all right that was lie; you can stop blinking, but you cannot permanently stop blinking. You can for a brief moment control it. However, after that brief moment has lapsed nature takes back control and uncontrollably, you begin to blink again whether or not you intended to do so. No harm no fowl. The same principle applies to judging people its natural and uncontrollable. While reading the below arguments, I ask you to try not to blink. Now that you have had a brief look into my opinion lets delve into the facts supporting legalization.

Once upon a time, in a country far far away, wait a minute, the year was 1619 and the country was the United States; during said year it was illegal to NOT be cultivating marijuana (if you were a farmer); this fact was given in an article by Anthony Papastrat, a journalist for PolicyMic (par. 1).  My oh my have things turned around. Today, according to Papastrat, “whether you are for its legalization or not, you are paying for marijuana to be illegal” (par. 1). Interestingly enough, the constitution of the United States was written on none other than a thinly woven sheet of hemp paper. I repeat, this country’s most valuable document is inscribed upon a derivative of marijuana. I guess even the government enjoys a little irony here and there.

To add to marijuana’s baffling double standard, the United States’ current President, Barack Obama, has admitted to indulging in marijuana use. Stranger yet, Obama is not alone. Multiple past presidents have admitted to “inhaling”. A few of these men include Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, and even our foremost founding father: George Washington. This prohibition thing is beginning to seem a bit hypocritical isn’t it? The government is enforcing a law that its’ most influential leaders have not, themselves, followed.

Marijuana legalization has been and more than likely will remain a subject of extreme controversy; after all, according to Melvin Livingston and Alexander Wagenaar, both researchers for the American Journal of Public Health, “the presence of marijuana in the United States was first recorded in 1611” (par. 5).  Four hundred and two years later, the legality of this plant has been “flipped” and “flopped” too many times to count.

Perhaps said best by Tony Dokoupil, of Newsweek magazine, “nobody dies from marijuana use” (44). Oddly, marijuana and methamphetamine share the same federal classification of schedule I. They share this classification. Draw a line. Similarities end. Methamphetamine takes lives like the sunrises, without a doubt every day. Can someone just reform this adhocracy already? Marijuana should be legalized in the United States because it is capable of providing a vast array of benefits to our society; including, tax revenue, the ability to lower jail populations, and the potential to dismantle organized crime.

Marijuana is an untapped billion-dollar industry. Industry indicates income. Income indicates imposition. As stated, in Jesse McKinley’s New York Times article, “[The] government’s failed prohibition approach should be replaced with a system that can better control it and produce revenue from it” (A12). Some are thinking how’s that going to play out? As proclaimed by Tim Dickinson, of Rolling Stone magazine, “[the taxation and sale of marijuana] would work the same way as [it does with] alcohol and cigarettes” (44). The tax benefits that could be collected from the legalization of marijuana are in the hundreds of millions per state, minimum. Colorado, Oregon and California have already proven this hypothesis to be in fact, a fact. Marijuana legalization and taxation has the potential to potentially bring the United States back to the Reaganonics of the 1980’s when the economy prospered with unprecedented success. Tax revenue is only one of the seemingly countless benefits the legalization of marijuana has to offer society.

Another benefit of the legalization of marijuana is the reduction of the population of inmates in jails. According to Kristen Gwynne’s Rolling Stone Politics’ article, “Members of the non-profit group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) say that loosening our pot policy wouldn’t necessarily condone drug use, but control it, while helping cops to achieve their ultimate goal of increasing public safety” (par. 2). So your saying cops said yes? Yes. Here’s why: a majority of marijuana related offenses are non-violent crimes. Take a moment to look at this statistic from Gwynne’s article, in ten years, three thousand six hundred fifty days; seven million marijuana arrests were made (par. 7). To give this number a bit more life, each arrest costs an average X dollars, lets say X is seven hundred taxpayer dollars. X is the cost after the arrest has gone from the street, to court, then to jail. Thus, in ten years that seven hundred dollars has become four-point-nine billion taxpayer dollars. That’s roughly one-point-three million dollars a day.

I remind you, to keep in mind that these are non-violent offenses. Many people agree this is a considerably large amount of wasted time and resources that could have funded any number of other useful means, with five billion extra dollars the state is capable of providing numerous improvements for society; not mention all the officers, who spent their time on these arrests, will now be freed up to help those in need. Here’s the kicker: marijuana legalization will not only lower jail populations and produce tax revenue, but it will also help to curb organized crime.

Most organized crime has the sale of illicit substances among their key components for success. On a side note, legalization will have put seven million more officers back in field, over said time period. To add to organized crimes troubles after legalization, according to Betsy Woodruff, a journalist for the National Review, the prices of marijuana are estimated to fall forty-five to sixty percent (27). Just like a real corporation, organized crime needs cash flow. No money translates to no organization.

For example, the Mexican cartels have decided that the continued operating costs are costing them more than the profits produced and consequentially are leaving California (Woodruff 27). This same concept is precisely what happened when the prohibition of alcohol ended, it crippled Al Capone’s empire; as a result crimes rates fell drastically. I invite you to take a look at Chicago’s crime rate during prohibition and then again after the repeal of the 21st amendment. One law did that. Mind-blowing. With the help of legalization we can make our country as a whole a safer place.

Thus, with the benefits of legalization are taken into account, the answer becomes crystal clear. Go green. It already has majority approval. So why not legalize and legitimize the marijuana industry? Legalization has much to offer and asks for next to nothing in return, just a stamp on some papers. Stamp ‘em. We are the country of freedom. Aren’t we?

Now Blink.

Works Cited

Dickinson, Tim. “Are Voters Going To Pot?.” Rolling Stone. 05 Oct 2012: 44. Print.

Dokoupil, Tony. “Carter’s top drug cop finds Obama’s pot policy ‘insane.’.” Newsweek.

160.11 (2012): 44. Print.

Gwynne, Kristen. “Five Reasons Cops Want to Legalize Marijuana.” Rolling Stone

Politics. Web. 20 October 2013.

Livingston, Melvin, Alexander Wagenaar, et al. “Effects of State Medical Marijuana

Laws on Adolescent Marijuana Use.” American Journal of Public Health. V

103.B (2013): 1500-1506. Print.

McKinley, Jesse. “Strategizing Legalization’s Pros and Cons.” New York Times. 04 Apr

2010: A12. Print.

Papastrat, Anthony. “This is How Much Marijuana Prohibition Costs You, the Taxpayer” PolicyMic. N.p., 187 Jul 2013. Web. 21 Nov 2013.

Woodruff, Betsy. “Rocky Mountain High.” National Review. 65.17   (2013):25-27. Print.


12 thoughts on “The Marijuana Paradox

  1. Great article. I believe that marijuana should be legalized. Not because I do it myself, but because other countries have legalized small quantities and I don’t believe anything of yet has been harmful for them doing so. As long as it doesn’t cause health risks, and is an equivalent or lower to mental impairment of alcohol, than why not. When you said, “My oh my have things turned around,” it somewhat annoyed me. It annoyed me just because many things have changed for the better since the 1600s such as slavery, etc. But it was a very interesting to point out the hypocritical point nonetheless.

  2. I thought your article was great! I also believe that marijuana should be legalized. Most people don’t realize that the percentage of people wanting to legalize it is actually a pretty high number! Like you said 52 percent.

  3. I have always believed that the legalization of alcohol and cigarettes has hurt America more than marijuana ever would if it was legal. The drug cartels from Mexico are one of America’s biggest problems right now. The borders is dangerous for citizens and police because of the smuggling of marijuana into our country and those problems would disappear instantly if marijuana was legal. It’s not as if we couldn’t put restrictions on it just as we do with alcohol and cigarettes and the country would benefit from it greatly.

  4. Very insightful read for me. I think marijuana should be legalized solely on the idea that it could help our economy flourish, I agree completely with your paragraph discussing the taxation of marijuana. I wish you could have given us a little more information about how marijuana will be regulated in the U.S., such as how many plants a citizen could grow themselves, if it all, or who would be licensed to distribute; information like that, so you could give the skeptics a clearer idea of how American would change with the legalization of marijuana. The one fear I have is that with the frequenter presence of marijuana, the frequency of presence of other drugs are sure to follow. Somebody can argue with me all day about how marijuana ISN’T a “gateway drug,” but when it comes down to it, when people associate with social circles that are getting high, there will always be the people that introduce dangerous drugs into the group.

  5. I agree with the fact that marijuana should be legalized because its a potential way for our economy to come back to life. This drug just needs to be taxed heavily and im sure people will still pay the money for it. This drug has become so popular over the years and is easier and easier to find each day. If this drug was to be legal to the public how would we be able to control the growing of this product within the United States?

  6. I completely agree that the United States should legalize marijuana use. I believe that marijuana is a gateway drug, and by legalizing its use, citizens will have a harder time finding “hard” drugs like cocaine or heroin. A lot of the times, it’s their dealers that provide them with more drugs, so I think if dealers were cut out of the process there would be fewer drug addictions. And I like that you added the economic benefits, because that’s one clear benefit that the United States is overlooking.

  7. I think marijuana should be legalized as well because its easy enough to get as it is so you might as well legalize and tax it. But i don’t see it reducing organized crime. Criminals will just move onto the next survival crime if marijuana were to be legalized.

  8. I would disagree with this just because if marijuana falls in the hands of immature youth or adults it can be fatally dangerous. It is just like alcohol, immature people consume it and what is one of the results? Death. Maybe alcohol and marijuana might not have the same effects, but they can both make a person to not think right. Now, put this situation on the road. If people are “high” and are not able to think right it can cause an accident and innocent lives can be lost. Although, I would agree that it can improve the economy. But what is worth more? The lives of innocent people or the satisfaction of immature people?

  9. I think that marijuana should be legalized. Personally, I do not smoke. I do believe that is your choice whether or not to smoke. The United States could make a profit off of legalizing marijuana because they would be able to tax it.

  10. This is a great article I like the style in how you present it. I do agree that marijuana should be legalized. Just as you stated it will create more revenue and will decrease activity in drug cartels. It will also create jobs for people that would be in the business of manufacturing and growing it. I will say that even though I think it should be legalized it needs to be used wisely. I will admit I’ve used it my self and I don’t think people should be driving while high and it shouldn’t be abused. I know plenty of people that are addicted to it. They always say that can stop but they never do. For All those people out there that are against it, I just suggests you try it once before you judge it. Just random little fact but did you know that in Nebraska even though Marijuana is illegal you still have to have a tax stamp on your marijuana. You can anonymously go to you court house and by a tax stamp for your marijuana. If you are caught with marijuana even though it is illegal the government can also charge you for not having a tax stamp.

  11. I agree with the fact that Marijuana should be legalized. I also believe that your statement about it being able to boost the economy is true as well. I think if we tax pot like we tax cigarettes and alcohol, our economy would be affected positively as well. As a smoker, I know what not to do while under the influence. Maybe if we legalize it, we could also set an age restriction on it like cigarettes and alcohol have. That way, it would be more difficult for youth to get a hold of it.

  12. I loved your article from beginning to end because of how well you tied everything together. I do agree with you Marijuana should be legalized. I myself i have never seen or used marijuana and i don’t plan to but if legalizing marijuana has as many benefits as you say it does then why not do it. But also question when and if Marijuana is legalized what will be the next drug?

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