Attitudes towards marijuana use are changing. The federal government's annual survey of drug, alcohol and tobacco use estimates that about 14.4 million people a year smoke marijuana monthly in the United States and about 25 million at least once a year. Medical marijuana is legal in 14 states. Proponents of legalizing marijuana say that the government could greatly benefit from the taxes that would be collected if pot was legal. Others say pot is a “gateway” drug that will lead to harder, more dangerous drugs. Should marijuana be legalized and taxed?
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I believe marijuana should be legalized and sold in much the same way cigarettes, cigars, beer and hard liquor are purchased. Marijuana is certainly much less harmful than these other legal substances, and the law forbidding its usage is an archaic one. Legalizing pot would help to reduce overcrowded court dockets, create more jail and prison space for real criminals, and raise billions of tax dollars. Of course, law enforcement officers will have to get on board, since the legalization of marijuana would also mean that many agencies would find the need to reduce their staffs accordingly.
I have to agree with Bullgatortail here. When we look at the range of substances used by Americans that are harmful, marijuana seems to be pretty low on the list. (And I say this as someone who has never used and who seriously disapproves of people actually using marijuana.) This list starts most obviously with things like alcohol and tobacco. They are at least as harmful as marijuana and are accepted by society. But we could go on to things like fatty foods or to behaviors like not exercising. Since marijuana is no more harmful than things that are legal, it seems hypocritical to keep it illegal.
I agree that marijuana should be legalized. To my mind, it is no different than alcohol or tobacco. Yes, it is harmful to the body but so is tobacco. We do not ban everything that is harmful to the human body. We allow people the freedom to choose. I do not believe that marijuana is a gateway drug as some would suggest. It can lead to other drugs but not because of its own inherent properties. I believe it can lead to other drugs because it is a foothold into the world of illegal drugs. If it were legalized and regulated, this would no longer be the case. Marijuana needs to be regulated. I believe that much of the harm done to body isn't by the drug itself but rather the unregulated nature of the plant. There is no standard for THC content nor are there any regulations on the type of pesticides used. I see no evidence that marijuana is any different than tobacco other than its current illegal status. Instead of wasting large sums of money on legal processes, we should be making large sums of money off of tax proceeds.
While marijuana has its dangers (though mild compared to other substance being used now!) it also has it's benefits, such as pain management. These are both strong points in favor of legalization. The first is a negative argument stating that it is not something worse than what actually is. The second is a positive argument stating that it is better than what is.
It certainly is true that legal restriction and punishment has not made any headway in eliminating its use and may actually have opened the door, or "gateway," to far worse drugs flooding the market. It certainly seems to be a grassroots (this pun took me by surprise) movement that can't be stopped and that perhaps is gaining ground (again, pun not expected or intended) as the Hippie Generation reaches the chronic pain and chronic disease age for which medicinal marijuana could prove very beneficial.
I think I won't be able to form a firm opinion on this until I'm forced to vote on it, but I seem to have set out very convincing arguments for myself that may be edging me toward approving legalization (I'd like the brownies I think; marijuana and chocolate are both very good pain relievers ... and chocolate is delicious, too).
I do think marijuana should be legalized and taxed. First of all, it is not a dangerous drug. Tobacco and alcohol are more dangerous. Second of all, it has health benefits. It can be used to treat chronic pain and many other conditions where nothing else works.
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