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Drug use (and abuse) will always be with us. Legally restricting individual choices does not eliminate behavior, it merely makes it illegal and forces it underground. Witness Prohibition in the US from 1919 until 1933. An individual should be able to choose a course of action he or she sees fit for themselves. Smoking or drinking are personal decisions, and no one or no group should make that decision for anyone else.
However, there are consequences to actions. One's freedom to smoke or drink ends when it impacts the rights of another. So smoking or drinking to excess before driving, for example, should remain illegal.
Much time, energy, and resources would be conserved if the abuse of drugs were seen as only a medical problem to be solved, and not compounded by draconian legal issues.
In addition to the answers above, and elaborating on some, here are other points to consider:
* Reducing the number of people put into prison for non-violent marijuana offenses would save billions over the long term, as well as prevent the "criminal education" of such prisoners in the penitentiary system.
* In countries where marijuana has been decriminalized (The Netherlands, parts of Canada, etc.) law enforcement is able to focus antidrug efforts on more dangerous narcotics
* Just as they did with alcohol when prohibition ended, you remove an entire illegal, criminal operation with one fell swoop, as the undergournd marijuana growing and smuggling network could not compete economically with legal businesses that could operate in the open.
* Legal marijuana could be regulated as to content and strength, unlike the completely uncontrolled substances that end up on the streets now. This makes it safer for public consumption, although, of course, less safe than not using it at all.
I don't necessarily believe that marijuana should be legalized, because it may be a gateway drug to other things that are more harmful, but I can see what other would say in support of legalization.
1. Tax revenue, like the other person said.
2. It will also probably help in drug wars overseas and here as this drug is regulated by the government.
3. Some may even say that if this is made legal, then there will be less of a social taboo, which may cause moderation in use. Sort of like other countries that do not make a big deal about alcohol. If it is legal, why would a person need to binge?
4. Finally, there may be some health benefit for pain, since hospitals use it.
Several arguments can be put forth towards the legalization of marijuana. There is credible analysis that suggests its monetary value is impossible to dismiss. Making the drug legal and taxing its profits could generate much income. In a state such as California where budget constraints have literally stopped Sacramento in its tracks, the notion of generating billions of dollars is quite appealing. On a larger level, the legalization of marijuana would bring to light how our judicial penalties for such crimes as possession of drugs needs reform. There is a great deal of almost Draconian punitive aura present where a sense of rehabilitation and proactive sensibility should be dominant. From the Libertarian point of view, the issue of marijuana consumption is a private issue and government should not intervene in such manners as it removes the classically liberal position of freedom of choice and right to be left alone.
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