Marijuana, which comes from the Cannabis plant, has been used by people since time immemorial. It was only in the 1960s that this plant received excessive media attention for the effect it had on people and the adverse potential to go wrong. Therefore, the American government illegalized the use of marijuana and anyone found to be in possession of this plant, or to be intoxicated by it, was told to be arrested by police forces and then further interrogated. Since this banning of marijuana and the imposition of harsh laws, many have stood up and spoke for legalizing the drug. The question at hand is whether using marijuana as a drug is a crime worthy of so much attention or rather is it a drug that needs to be removed from the blacklist, as per pro-marijuana activists’ campaigning.
The issue began in 1960 when the government of the United States introduced anti-marijuana propaganda through the media and deemed it as a danger to national security and prosperity. This was backed by a claim that along with changing a person’s emotions and feelings, it also makes a person lazy, unproductive and far from realistic thinking so much so that they may involve themselves in criminal activities. Despite all the campaigning, people continued their use of their drug, and statistically, more people began to try it. When President Nixon began his presidency, he believed it was vital to put a stop to the flow of marijuana and therefore, deployed a military styled body to the Mexican border to search all people for potentially possessing this plant. The search however did not bring forth many discoveries from the people searched, thus this was abandoned. On the other hand, Nixon continued to urge the people to bring a stop to its use and then ordered a training squad to work with police officers to make them aware of ways to tackle a situation in which a possessor of marijuana is found. Arrests and convictions related to the use of marijuana dramatically increased by this strategy. In 1969, the situation was looked upon and the Congress was told that a high proportion of the population consumed this drug, estimates being almost 8 million. It was suggested that the strict penalties and laws regarding this drug should be toned down and sentencing people for possession should be brought to a stop. By this, the Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act which reduced the strict laws that were related to this drug. Although reports convincing readers to further reduce punishments about this drug were brought forth, President Nixon was determined to bring an end to the use of marijuana in the United States of America, and in 1972, merged all drug agencies into one powerful agency, the Drug Enforcement Agency. This worked to minimize marijuana use as well. Measures to do so continued during the presidency of Ronald Regan as well, and with time, law enforcers became even stricter. While many urge to at least allow its use medically, which is permissible in a few states, most government leaders continue to be against legalized this drug. (Gerber )
It is obvious that in this issue, there are two sides; one people believes that the use of marijuana is a vice and should be curtailed completely, while the other side is hesitant in agreeing to this and believes that the issue is over rated and should be allowed to a certain extent. Due to this, they have been fighting a battle of legalizing marijuana.
The first and foremost argument that pro-marijuana legalization activists quote is that the United States of America is a country of free will for Man. Only those things that endanger fellow citizens should be brought to an end, other than this, the country has no ethical backing to make something illegal. With marijuana, they say, the use is not as adverse as portrayed by the media and other sources the government employs to spread their propaganda. It is believed that in comparison to all other legalized drugs available in the market, especially, alcoholic beverages, have more of an ability to cause harm to the human mind and attachment to reality as compared to marijuana. Despite this fact, the government continues to allow people to use products of alcohol when in reality, they intoxicate people greatly and even cause them to unintentionally harm others around them. Therefore, the claim made by the government that marijuana is not acceptable to use due to its ability to cause harm is invalid. Such people go on to say that this drug only makes people happy, lazy and just slightly intoxicated. (Grinspoon )
Another tactic they use to convince others to join the march of legalizing marijuana is the fact that the cost of keeping it illegal is too high for the State. Every year, billions of dollars are spent to curtail use of this drug by security bodies, and a lot of tax money is invested for this endeavor, and that money has opportunity costs that would be more beneficial to people compared to this form of investment. Furthermore, it is claimed that banning this drug does not make much of a difference because teenagers and adults alike still continue to use marijuana in ways that are frowned upon by the government, even though such extreme measures are taken by the state to minimize its use. (Grinspoon)
Alongside this, marijuana has many successful medicinal uses which can actually reduce the issue of many illnesses if it is allowed to be used.
In contrasts, those against legalizing marijuana realize that it is definitely bad for the health and long-term population prosperity of the country. The details of these claims shall be expounded upon further on in this paper. Anti-marijuana people believe that the cost of keeping marijuana illegal is still less than the expenses that would have to be faced otherwise without the ban. Medically as well, marijuana is not the only solution to the endless illnesses found today.
From what has been mentioned earlier, the take of these activists is clearly very optimistic. Although it is true that in comparison to alcohol, the effect of marijuana is less, it still stands that this drug, when consumed, takes control of mental abilities and does not allow one to think rationally with their knowledge and morals in sight. If the use of marijuana is allowed, the lifestyle of Americans will become worse than it already is, because, this drug will cause even more criminal activities to occur, and the population will be lazier then it already is. In the long-term too, this will have an adverse effect on America, decreasing the educational prospects of a lazier people, unaware of their emotions and thoughts by the permission of using yet another intoxicating drug. Moreover, as per common belief that marijuana is not as harmful, it is true that it is not a narcotic, however, it does in fact come under the same category as cocaine. (Weisheit)
Marijuana is proven to be able to affect the short-term memory of minds and also cause brain intrusions and a mixture of emotions. If it is thought about, the negative effects are not worth getting for just a few hours of extreme happiness and being away from reality for that time. It does not really help a person tackle their problems while they are in the state of intoxication by marijuana, and sooner or later, issues have to be faced. (Earleywine)
Reports tell us that the government annually spends hundreds of billions of dollars every year on police forces so that the country is run with proper law and order. A lot of this money has to be invested because citizens involve themselves in crimes while they are intoxicated by drugs that are both, legal and illegal, meaning that marijuana is also inclusive in the drugs that cause criminal activity. In comparison, a few billions are spent to continue keeping marijuana illegal. If in case the government ever legalizes marijuana, in the long run, the budget will only worsen. This is because although the fixed cost of maintaining the prohibition of marijuana use will have finished, people will get intoxicated even more, thus causing the crime rate to flourish a surprisingly high amount, causing the total costs of law and order maintenance increasing. Thus, if activists believe keeping marijuana illegal is just an unnecessary added expense, a situation without this ban should be thought of and that should suffice to convince them otherwise.
Another argument that activist groups bring forth is that alcohol has more intoxicating potential than the plant of Cannabis, however one should think of the amount of consumption that can cause intoxication by alcohol and that by marijuana. A few sips of alcohol cannot cause intoxication to the extent by which a few puffs of marijuana does. (Earleywine)
Many people go on to claim that during their battles against cancer and other diseases, marijuana is one such drug that eases their pain. However, studies have shown that marijuana does not have any advantage compared to other drugs on the market that it is more effective in fighting ailments than others. On top of that, marijuana also contains cancer containing components within it and also causes bronchitis and other lung issues even more quickly than normal tobacco cigarettes. Even for AIDS, although marijuana does effectively cause immunity to a certain extent, it still decreases the immune system’s positive workings on other terms. Cannabis is not the only plant that has pain relieving elements. Moreover, legalizing marijuana for one use only makes way for further legalization in other aspects as well as over the counter techniques to access the drugs without medical backing. (Bock)
People in favor of legalizing marijuana have their own claims to make, however, it is better to keep marijuana illegal because of the long-term adverse effects it can have on the population. Intoxicants of any form should not be allowed in the country because they promote a shallow lifestyle and are a main reason America is facing a gradual fall. Families have broken apart because of the effect of marijuana on people, parental responsibilities are ignored, educational obligations are overlooked and in general, with another drug in the market, the workforce of the country will become more unproductive. Keep marijuana illegal only reduces another vice to society, and the ban should continue the way it is.
Bock, Alan. Waiting to Inhale: The Politics of Medical Marijuana. Seven Locks Press, 2000. Print.
Earleywine, Mitch. Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence. Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.
Gerber, Rudoplh. Legalizing Marijuana: Drug Policy Reform and Prohibition Politics. Praeger, 2004. Print.
Grinspoon, Lester. Marihuana Reconsidered. Harvard University Press, 1971. Print.
Weisheit, Ralph. Domestic Marijuana: A Neglected Industry. Greenwood Press, 1992. Print.