Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal substance in United States and in many other countries; this is a statement that seems to be in each article that is written about the legalization of marijuana. This is a subject that has been up for debate for quite a few years now. There are many people who support the legalization of this drug and are strongly convinced that marijuana is not a drug in which one should be punished for, but rather a drug that should not be frowned upon and seen as a way to help our nation economically and medically. On the other end, there are also many people who support the criminalization of marijuana and believe it is a drug that should remain illegal or else further use of the drug may increase and become dangerous. There was a time in history when the use of marijuana was quite popular until it became illegal, like many other substances, it did not stop people from using. The question still remains, should marijuana be legalized Throughout this writing piece, information regarding different views and opinions on the legalization of marijuana will be presented, along with positive and negative effects this would have on our nation economically and medically.
Caulkins, Jonathan B., Angela Hawken, Beau Kilmer and Mark A.R. Kleiman. “What is Marijuana” Marijuana Legalization What Everyone Needs to Know. USA Oxford University Press, 2012. 2-12.
Focusing on convincing the reader of this book, Marijuana Legalization What Everyone Needs to Know, to come into agreement with the legalization of marijuana, the authors Jonathan P. Caulkins, Angela Hawken, Beau Kilmer, and Mark A.R. Kleiman explain what marijuana is. Marijuana, also known as cannabis sativa, is a plant whose dried flowers contain mind-altering chemicals known as cannabinoids. Another form of marijuana is known as hashish, it is made by extracting the cannabinoid-rich trichomes, which are the tiny hair-like structures produced by the plant (Caulkins 5). There are many different varieties of marijuana plants that are grown; each having different amounts and mixtures of cannabinoids. To produce different plants, genetic cross-breeding is performed, as well as using different techniques for growing the plant.
The main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, which is also the most responsible for its intoxicating effects, is known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is one of the cannabinoids found in marijuana, and there are over sixty of them. It is the cannabinoid that produces the high, and although there are other cannabinoids present, the effect is different with the absence of THC. They interact with THC to affect its impact in a variety of ways enhancing or attenuating it, speeding up or slowing down its onset, and influencing how long the effect lasts (Caulkin 7).
According to the authors, recent studies have shown that there is another compound in marijuana that is increasing the attention of both scientists and medical marijuana providers known as cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD is not an intoxicating product, and does not produce a high when alone, but some researchers claim it may calm the anxiety produced by THC. Some research suggests that marijuana with a better balance between CBD and THC is less risky than the high-THC, low-CBD strains that now dominate the upper end of the marijuana market (Caulkin 9). With scientists discovering the new compound CBD, it makes them more interested in doing further research in order to discover more roles of other compounds found in marijuana.
Soros, George. (2010). “Why I Support Legal Marijuana” The Wall Street Journal (2010). Web. httponline.wsj.comarticleSB10001424052702303467004575574450703567656.html.
George Soros, the chairman of Soros Fund Management and founder of the Open Society Foundationsist, voices his opinion on why he believes in the legalization of marijuana in this article. He believes the marijuana laws are doing more harm than good and the criminalization of the drug is did not prevent marijuana from becoming the most widely used illegal substance in the United States and many other countries (Soros). Soros describes how law enforcement agencies spend billions of taxpayer dollars to enforce this prohibition, when they could be making billions of dollars in tax revenues if marijuana was regulated and taxed. The legalization could help reduce crime, violence and corruption that are associated with the drug market, and allow police to focus more on crimes that are more serious.
Soros also expresses his anger in how the criminalization of marijuana can also depend on the individual’s race. African-Americans are no more likely than other Americans to use marijuana but they are three, five or even 10 times more likely—depending on the city—to be arrested for possessing marijuana (Soros). He informs the reader about a statement that was made by Alice Huffman, president of the California NCAAP, in which she states that marijuana is not what harms young people, it is the criminal justice system, which may give the young people a permanent drug arrest charge that could haunt them for life. The prohibition of marijuana began because of racial prejudice. When the United States was deciding on the criminalization of marijuana, which was between 1915 and 1933, it was not because of science or health related issues, but rather prejudice against Mexican immigrants who smoked what citizens called the “killer weed.”
In this article, Soros educates the reader on who benefits the most from keeping marijuana illegal. The major criminal organizations in Mexico are the greatest beneficiaries because they earn billions of dollars annually from the illicit trade. Soros believes if marijuana were a legal commodity, then they would lose a large chunk of their profit.
Soros wraps up his article by explaining his support in California’s Proposition 19. This would legalize the recreational use and small scale cultivation of marijuana, but would not rid of the all the problems associated with the drug. He believes this proposition will assist in the process of repealing marijuana prohibition laws throughout the nation the way alcohol prohibition was repealed, by allowing each state to initiate their own decriminalization laws. He states, “California provided national leadership in 1996 by becoming the first state to legalize the medical use of marijuana, so it has an opportunity once again to lead the nation” (Soros).
CNBC. (2010) “Why We Should Not Legalize Marijuana.” Headlines from CNBC (2010). Web. httpwww.cnbc.comid36267223Why_We_Should_Not_Legalize_Marijuana.
In this article, the author strongly argues as to why marijuana should not be legalized. Those who support its legalization, for medical or for general use, fail to recognize that the greatest costs of marijuana are not related to its prohibition; they are the costs resulting from marijuana use itself (CNBC). The author explains how he found an article stating that the percentage of people who are in prison because of marijuana, is less than half of one percent. He believes the criminal justice system is a way of helping the user into a path of treatment. While discussing the legalization of marijuana, the author makes an interesting analogy to gambling; since the government made gambling legal, they have encouraged the promotion of gambling overlooking its potential behavioral problems. Since gambling has been legalized, it has increased gambling in the United States, particularly sports gambling- which remains illegal. Unlike illegal gambling, legal gambling is taxed and regulated. The author states, “Legal gambling sets the stage for illegal gambling just the way legal marijuana would set the stage for illegal marijuana trafficking” (CNBC). The author believes that illegal drug suppliers would thrive by selling more potent products that would be outside the legal channel therefore avoiding taxation. He feels the only way to eliminate marijuana’s illegal trade would be to sell marijuana untaxed and unregulated to any willing buyer.
Throughout the article, the author proceeds to inform the reader about the how about two thirds of Americans are suffering from marijuana abuse or dependence. He is confident the number of marijuana users would increase tremendously and match up with the amount of people using alcohol and tobacco. He also believes that an increase in addiction will occur if the drug is legalized because the public would have greater access to obtaining the drug, therefore abusing its recreational use.