Why is marijuana illegal?Why is marijuana illegal?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All of the previous posts have valid explanations about why marijuana is still illegal and why it should be considered a "gateway" drug to more serious elicit drug activity. I can't agree with all of their reasonings, however. I find it interesting that 20% of the United States has already decriminalized marijuana. Those states are Oregon (first decriminalized in 1973), Alaska, California, Colorado, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Maine, Minnesota and Ohio; New Mexico is currently considering the change. Mississippi decriminalized it in the 1970s and then later recriminalized it. There are currently 14 states which allow marijuana for medical useage. Even more compelling is that marijuana is considered a medical treatment for some ailments despite the possibility of a jail sentence for non-medical use. Most of the states that have decriminalized marijuana or allow its medical use are among the more liberal-minded states in the U.S., and it is highly unlikely that many conservative states (especially in the Deep South) will change its laws in the near future.

I would argue that several legal intoxicants--specifically alcohol and tobacco--have a far more dangerous effect on the human system. Alcohol can lead to serious liver problems, and lung cancer from the use of cigarettes is one of the world's leading killers. There is little evidence that marijuana causes even a fraction of the medical problems caused by these widespread legal stimulants. Certainly, alcohol and cigarettes are NEVER considered a form of medical treatment, as marijuana is.

Around the world, at least 15 countries allow some form of legal marijuana.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many reasons why marijuana is illegal. There are also many arguments that state the the government should make it legal.

To begin with, there is the stigma that it is a drug (as it is). Let's compare and contrast marijuana and alcohol for a moment. They both alter mental states yet alcohol does not have the stigma that is attached to marijuana. It is socially acceptable for people to drink. This could possibly be because alcohol is not considered a "drug" per say. From a social point of view, people who smoke marijuana are considered "pot heads" or "stoners." People may say they need to go home and have a drink to relax and this is acceptable, yet if someone says they need to go home and smoke marijuana they may be looked upon in a negative way.

Whether or not marijuana will ever be legalized is a debate. As long as smoking marijuana is looked upon in a negative way, marijuana will remain illegal. Smoking marijuana can lead to very serious consequences.


missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Many Americans who have sought to keep marijuana illegal do so because they believe it is a gateway drug to the other more serious drugs. Many Americans believe this because they have used pot and been in circles that demonstrate this is true. This first-hand experience influences their opinion.

Coming from a family wherein use has occured at each level, I can verify that this is true at least some of the time. We had one member able to stop use easily after quitting pot, and the other became seriously entrenched with a variety of drugs. This led to a marriage, domestic violence, drug trafficing, fraudulent check writing, a divorce, and jail time. This person lost 8 years of their life (while a parent) that is irreplacable.

Marijuana is illegal because most Americans would prefer to err on the side of caution. 

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One could make an argument that marijuana is not as serious a drug or drug problem as meth, cocaine or heroin, but the main reason it is illegal is because a majority of Americans want it that way.

Marijuana is a Class A Narcotic according to the law, so it is just as bad as the hard drugs I mentioned earlier in terms of the law. The sentencing guidelines are lighter, especially for possession of small amounts, which is a misdemeanor that rarely leads to jail time.

Despite the recent popularity of Medical Marijuana laws in some states, and very tolerant policies in California, it is still illegal at the federal level, and likely will be for some time.

NORML is an activist group that seeks to change that.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The best, most persuasive reason I can think of is that the drug causes irrational behavior, hallucinations, violence, etc.  These side effects make the drug dangerous and put the general public in jeopardy since those under the influence of this drug may choose to drive, or to give into the urge that he/she is in complete control and capable of conducting every day or fantasy events.  Worse still, those under the influence may consider themselves indestructable--jumping off buildings to fly, or walking into traffic, etc. 

rolltide12 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I see it as a matter of limited police resources.

All drugs are bad.  Some are worse than others.  BUt marijuana arrests account for a HUGE % of our arrests, court trials, and prison cells.

How much more important would it be to use police resources to focus on murder, fraud, rape, child abuse, etc...?

Lgealize pot and sell it (and tax it).

You will, overnight, put every drug dealer out of business. 

fight | Student
Well Missy, you are oh so wrong. Marijuanna was declared illegal due to factories having used "Hemp" as their new supplier. When they started using "Hemp" to make clothes, paper, furniture for god sake. Anyway, many factories shut down losing business by the week because people started growing canibus plants. Once illegal factories provided jobs once again. Here are some reasons it is illegal... Racism, Fear, Protection of corporate profits, Ignorant, incompetent and or corrupt legislates.. (MOST IMPORTANTLY) Personal Career advancement and greed
giorgiana1976 | Student

 Subjectivity in the assessment of the human societies of illegal substances is causing the problem. Some human societies or religions do not tolerate alcohol, but tolerate hallucinogenic plants.

epollock | Student

I believe that the drug is classified as a hallucinogenic drug and that it has effects that inhibit activity in the body. The active compound is then controlled by the government and regulated. If the effects of alcohol are traffic accidents, crime and violent behavior, marijuana would only increase nefarious behavior.

mkcapen1 | Student

In the late 1920's and 1930's polices regarding marijuana went into effect outlawing the use of the drug.  At the time use of marijuana had more social stigma and identified people as being from a subculture.  Marijuana was also caught up in the prohibition era but did not make it through when the sale of alcohol was reenacted.  Public opinion was not in favor of the protection of the right to have access to narcotics, but it was in favor of alcohol use and distribution. 

Between 1878 and 1924 illegal drug use rose in the United States leading to public concern.  The most critical consumers of the products were white middle class people.  This was due to the fact that most of the drugs were taken by prescription or Doctor recommendation.  In addition, drugs were often marketed under blankets because bottles were not labeled as to what was in the bottles.

Once the states identified the processing, in take, distribution, and service of a drug such as marijuana as being bad for a community an causing harm, the drug was added to the list of illegal drugs.  Marijuana came under this category.  While it may be considered to be a weaker drug, it was still considered harmful and trafficking of the drug has led to world wide problems.  Therefore, it has remained an illegal drug despite efforts to normalize its use..