Should marijuana be legalized?According to Newsweek, twelve states now have laws that treat someone caught with marijuana like  a traffic offense.  In addition, in this upcoming election,...

Should marijuana be legalized?

According to Newsweek, twelve states now have laws that treat someone caught with marijuana like  a traffic offense.  In addition, in this upcoming election, two (Colorado and Washington state) states are voting whether to legalize marijuana not for medical purposes but for "getting high." Pot use in the United States is rising sharply.

Smart businessmen are banking on that happening. Here is the true life scenario of drug traders in Denver.  Inside one of the the high-rises, drug dealers are putting money into envelopes. If your image of the drug trade involves armed gangs or young men in parked cars, these dealers offer a surreal counterpoint:  a finance veteran, multiple lawyers, the son of a police chief, a Pulitzer Prize–winning communications consultant, two state lobbyists, a nationally known political operative, and a state senator.

I am really interested in your opinions based on any research that you may have done. I do not know whether it should be legalized or not.

8 Answers

jovip18's profile pic

jovip18 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

The issue of legalizing Marijuana is really several separate issues.


  1. States Rights vs. Federal Rights.  As anyone operating a dispensary in California that has been raided by the DEA can attest, what a state decides on a local level has very little bearing on what the federal government decides to do.  This is a major issue, and one that we could see coming to a head in coming months. 
  2. Lobbyists.  Right now, several extremely powerful unions, almost all based in law-enforcement, are working hard to lobby against the legalization of marijuana on a national level.  What is their motivation?
  3. Personal Liberty.  This is probably the most important issue, though it is the most subtle.  What should a rational adult be able to do with their body in the privacy of their own home? 




One of the major issues is that both sides of the argument are clouded by emotional responses.  If you think it should be legalized, then how is it going to be regulated?  Who is going to be in charge of collecting revenue from sales?  How should the potency be measured?  Who gets a prescription, if necessary?


On the other hand, if you are anti-legalization what is the basis for this belief?  To many hours of DARE when you were a child?  How do you reconcile the fact that many of the issues regarding crime and violence associated with the bootlegging during prohibition are equitable to the modern War on Drugs?

belarafon's profile pic

belarafon | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I suppose so. We're moving in that direction anyway, so to fight it any longer is to waste valuable resources and time on a non-issue. At this point, I just don't care anymore; people who want to smoke are not prevented from doing so by laws, they just go down the street to the local dealer. When the laws become entirely useless, then they should be abolished. I agree that it should be taxed, regulated, and processed like alcohol. Smoke while working or driving, get a ticket or a night in jail. Encourage people to use it responsibly, instead of getting addicted, and it might even become a useful cash crop while cutting into dealer profits. Honestly, at this point, the country is moving in that direction and there are so many more important things to worry about. Let the second-handers descend into their clouds, the occasional users relax in safety, and the responsible will make their own choices.

I will add that the conceit that marijuana is never responsible for any ill effects whatsoever is incorrect on many levels. Just like painkillers and alcohol, marijuana relaxes the body's alertness and creates the circumstances for bad decision-making; also, no matter what the substance, drawing smoke of any sort into your lungs is physically damaging. However, these issues exist with legal and illegal drugs, and marijuana is no more harmful, if used responsibly, than alcohol.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I do not think that marijuana is as harmful as some of the stronger drugs.  Since it has so many health benefits, why not legalize it?  Does tobacco have any health benefits?  Certainly marijuana has some value.

Currently, the U.S. federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance—identifying it as having “a high potential for abuse” and “no currently accepted medical use,” and placing it in the same league as opium and LSD. (enotes, see first link)

Yet there have been proven benefits of marijuana for medical uses, especially for pain sufferers and cancer.  Some states, such as California, have legalized it for medical use.  According to Grinspoon, “Cannabis has long been recognized as an effective medicinal” (see link 3).

The benefits of marijuana seem to outweigh the costs.  According to the International Business News, about “200 different medical conditions respond favorably to cannabis” including Alzheimer’s, glaucoma, arthritis, morning sickness, and cancer (see second link).  There are also financial benefits, since the drug would be profitable as taxes.

Marijuana may be a “gateway drug,” but it does not have to be, and tobacco and alcohol are as well.  In a case where the benefits so far outweigh the costs, it seems unreasonable to block marijuana use.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I do not know for sure either.  And I need to vote on this soon since I live in Washington.

I am inclined to vote in favor.  I find it hard to distinguish between marijuana and alcohol in any principled way.  Marijuana may be addictive, but so is alcohol.  Marijuana has adverse impacts on health but so does alcohol.

I would prefer it if no one would ever use marijuana.  However, I would also prefer it if people did not drink alcohol.  I think that our “war on drugs” is probably counterproductive and excessively expensive.  Therefore, even though I would never use marijuana myself, I think I will vote to decriminalize just I would not vote for prohibition of alcohol even though I don’t drink.

rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I believ quite strongly that marijuana should be legalized. A very significant percentage of people that are in federal prison are there for violating marijuana laws. The United States imprisons more people than any other country, largely due to the "war on drugs." As others have said, criminalizing marijuana is highly subjective, given that alcohol and cigarettes are both legal. I believe it should be decriminalized at the federal level. 

bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Compared to two of America's most popular pastimes--drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco--marijuana is far less dangerous to a person's health. I believe marijuana should be legalized and sold in a similar manner as tobacco and liquor--and taxed appropriately.

User Comments

discussion1984's profile pic

discussion1984 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

I am completely for the legalization of marijuana just for the sake of consistency and for all the health benefits it provides. If you make alcohol and nicotine legal, there's no argument for making marijuana illegal. You don't drink and drive. You don't smoke and drive. You don't show up to work drunk, you don't show up to work high. Alcohol and nicotine are a million times worse for you because they're highly addictive and have severe side-effects. Marijuana on the other hand is good for relaxation, sleep, anxienty, nausea, entices appetite, relieves pain, and is not physically addictive nor causes illness. It's also been shows that it's an anti-carcinogen, and there is absolutely no way that it will cause cancer even if smoked because it does not have chemicals and nicotine found in cigarettes. Lastly, if you compare it to other drugs like codine, cocaine, etc. marijuana is harmless. It will not cause you to become violent. The worst the will happen is you laugh endlessly and then fall asleep (right before you have a big sandwich).

I really should join the marijuana party.

luiji's profile pic

luiji | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

There's two sides to legalising marijuana.

On the one hand, marijuana would be a lot easier to get hold of, and an awful lot cheaper if it were legalised. Those who wanted to get hold of some could easily get their hands on it.

On the other hand, if they legalise marijuana, it's use might actually decrease. For example, during the 1920s, when alcohol was banned (Prohibition), alcohol consumption actually increased because it was illegal to drink. As a result, many households made their own alcohol. This also caused problems, because about 4000 people died from the potent mixture, which was poisoned. My point is that if marijuana was legalised, people might not be so excited about taking it.