Recently, the topic of marijuana legalization, has raised controversial questions on whether decriminalization of the recreational use of marijuana is beneficial or not towards the society. Some may argue that marijuana should stay illegal because it is dangerous for the mind as it can mentally strenuous for the user. From this perspective, marijuana can especially affect the young minds of children as their minds have not fully developed. Therefore, the chemical toxins released by the use of marijuana can be harmful and affect the development of the mind. Conversely, Marijuana can also be beneficial towards the entire society as a whole. In New York City, “the total fiscal impact of legalizing marijuana in New York City at roughly $431 million annually.” With this in mind, it would make more sense to legalize marijuana as it would prove as an effective income source for the government given the relative safety of the drug while also freeing up police resources.
As stated earlier, raising tax revenues should be an immense incentive to legalize marijuana. Studies show that “revenue from taxation of marijuana sales could reach up to $8.7 billion per year if taxed like alcohol or tobacco—on top of billions in saved law enforcement resources.” At the moment, marijuana is currently an non taxable drug because it is not a legal federal drug. Although states such as California have legalized marijuana, the drug remains untaxed therefore neglecting millions, maybe even billions, of untapped revenue. Opponents of this view tend to be conservatives and are scared of the unknown. These people argue that the full consequences of marijuana legalization cannot be fully realized therefore we should wait till the consequences can be fully realized. However, states where marijuana can be taxed prove to be great role models and show that marijuana legalization is not as scary as conservatives make it out to be. For example, in Colorado and Washington, marijuana tax collections have transcended previous approximations. Although revenue income seemed nonexistent at first, it was expected as residents had to adjust to the new policies implemented by their state. Tax reports provided by colorado show that in 2014, tax revenues jumped from 14 million dollars to 200 million dollars in 2015. Colorado has put this money to good use as they have spent it on schools, rehabilitation and prevention programs for drug use and to regulating the marijuana business. Currently, in 2017, marijuana sales recently achieved over 1 billion dollars in sales as of August. Furthermore, with tax reductions within the same states, black market marijuana sales have decreased as legal marijuana sales have become cheaper. A reduction in black market sales consequently leads to less drug related crimes as there would soon not be enough drugs on the market to fight about.
Along with fighting the black market, if the legalization of marijuana were to occur, millions, most likely billions, of government money allocated for police resources can be dedicated to larger and more significant crimes or other issues. In 2016, an article written by Timothy Williams found that, “marijuana arrests were about 13.6 percent more than the 505,681 arrests made for all violent crimes, including murder, rape and serious assaults.” A decriminalization of marijuana would eradicate these numbers as it is unnecessary to criminalize marijuana given that the drug almost seems miniscule compared to other federally illegal drugs, and even legal narcotics such as alcohol and tobacco. It is quite mortifying learning about the injustices inflicted on those, especially African-Americans, who were incarcerated for petty crimes. For example, an African-American man named Cory has stopped trying because he was turned down by a fast-food restaurant due to his conviction. Cory spent an absurd 14 months in prison for carrying a small quantity of marijuana, granted it was his fifth offense. However, if the decriminalization had existed from the start, Cory would have never been put in this place. It also outrageous that African-Americans are four times more likely to be arrested because of marijuana possession compared to caucasian people. This is a result of a police department’s choice to send out officers to patrol high crime neighborhoods. This can immensely affect arrest rates as it creates a bias towards African-Americans and other families living in these kinds of neighborhood. A change in the system could help rejuvenate the neighborhoods that African-Americans have been historically forced into. Officers patrolling these neighborhoods could direct their focus towards crimes that are actually serious rather than picking up minors off the street for marijuana possession.
Although minors should not be in possession of any narcotic, if they needed to have one marijuana would definitely be the best choice. In 2017, a study conducted by the Huffington Post found that the amount of deaths caused by marijuana was zero. In fact, a scientist in 2006 found that marijuana was ranked the least toxic narcotic. Alcohol however, was ranked the 7 most toxic narcotic. Even more so, in 2007, marijuana accounted for only 0.2% of the entire world’s burden of disease or injury. Even the U.S. Department of Health and Human services found that “25% to 30% of violent crimes and 3% to 4% of property crimes in the U.S. are linked to the use of alcohol. Also, five million alcohol crimes are committed per year. However, physical deaths are not the only thing that marijuana is resistant to. Studies has also found that Marijuana is not linked to disease that are caused by smoking tobacco or disease caused from too much alcohol consumption. In fact, subjects who reported to smoking more than 22,000 “joints” (a cigarette like device used to smoke marijuana) in their lifetimes have not shown any signs of cancer or even damage to their health. Overall, the use of marijuana is barely damaging to the body and mind and is miniscule compared to other narcotics, even legal ones.
Marijuana does not have any harmful effects because it’s effects of a medicine greatly outweigh the negative consequences of marijuana, if any. The list of medicinal benefits is extensive and massive. It can be used to treat a variety of disease and conditions. The research conducted by many scientist have been peer reviewed, validating the many benefits that marijuana can have. An article posted by Business Insider lists many health benefits that marijuana can grant. For example, a study conducted by the American Medical Association found that marijuana can reverse the carcinogenic effects of tobacco and even increase lung capacity. Chemicals that have been in marijuana also help stop cancer from spreading. Granted, some of the benefits are assumptions, the assumptions are based off of known effects of using marijuana. For example, the article states that marijuana “may decrease anxiety.” The statement does not reinforce itself because of a weak word like “may.” However, marijuana is known to reduce stress levels; making it a valid claim that marijuana “may decrease anxiety. The health benefits of marijuana can vary greatly. Therefore, the legalization of marijuana would help make it more accessible for people and in turn help many people who need it. The benefits of this drug help with common health issues such as alzheimer’s disease. Marijuana legalization for recreational use does not have to happen, however, decriminalization for medicinal use is vital to many patients who need it and do not have a medical marijuana card.
Overall, marijuana should be legalized and decriminalized because it is a very versatile drug. As most states have legalized it, it should be a no brainer for the federal government to allow passage for this drug. The drug is not well educated on due to the Reagan era and the “War on Drugs” which is quite unfortunate given the many possibilities that could be achieved. The Reagan Era destroyed the reputation of Marijuana and made decriminalization and legalization a social issue rather than a criminal issue. Marijuana is not a harmful drug no matter which way you look at it.