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?
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.