The Legalization of Marijuana
Marijuana, a substance that everybody in today’s society knows of and has an opinion on, is a topic of many controversial issues. Will marijuana be more readily available for teenagers? Will legalizing it make it easier for the Cannabis black market to expand? Should marijuana be taxed over criminalized? These are all commonly asked questions that are always answered with bickering between proponents of marijuana and anti-marijuana groups. I believe through all of the bickering that marijuana should be legalized because the benefits far outweigh the consequences.
The University of Michigan annually conducts a survey called Monitoring the Future in which eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders are surveyed on the availability of drugs. One of the most relevant questions on the survey is how available is marijuana to you. Since 1992 at least 2 out of 5 eighth graders, 2 out of 3 tenth graders, and 4 out of 5 seniors in high school said that they can easily find marijuana. Speculation suggests the reason behind such large amounts of the student body being able to find marijuana is due to students selling the herb to other students. There are not many places the distributers can receive marijuana other than from gangs/dealers or well hidden self-growing. With the legalization of marijuana, Cannabis will be readily available for people of or over the age of twenty-one. You may ask yourself what exactly this means in terms of high school students; well if you remove where the students who sell marijuana receive their product then you stop the distribution through schools which lowers the overall availability of marijuana. On the other side of the coin people say that legalizing Cannabis will cause it to be much more like alcohol in every manner including availability to minors. This theory rises from experiences with liquor where, for example, an older friend or family member go to the store/dispensary to purchase the product for minors; however, the theory does not entirely account for how little the products would be seen in schools or environments with large amounts of underage people due to most of the product being consumed in a supervised area. Since most of the product would be smoked there would be less selling in school which would in turn lower the availability for teenagers.
The Governor of New York wants to change his policies to decriminalize marijuana; shortly after this statement was released the Mayor and Police Commissioner of New York City quickly agreed. The stop-and-frisk policy in New York City was put into place by the same mayor that now wishes to decriminalize marijuana. In part this could be due to arresting over 400,000 people in Cannabis related crimes, more than the last three mayors combined, and not remotely denting use or availability in NYC.
At this point in time anywhere from 40% to 70% of all of the marijuana found in the USA can be traced back to Mexico. In Mexico, the world’s largest drug warring state due to drug cartels, the war on drugs has claimed over 60,000 lives since the beginning of 2006. These lives consist of government officials, news reporters, activists, and civilians. Even the ex-Mexican President Felipe Calderón, one of America’s greatest allies in the war on drugs, stated, “If Americans were so determined and resigned to consume drugs, then they should seek market alternatives in order to cancel the stratospheric profits fueling the ghastly narco-bloodshed.” Everyone that read/heard that statement came to the same conclusion, except the White House, that Calderón meant some form of legalization. With marijuana being legalized in Colorado and Washington sometime during the summer of next year it is projected to cut cartel incomes by $5 billion a year. Now just imagine if marijuana was legalized across the whole of the USA. That would add up to a total of $240 billion potentially going into federal and state coffers over cartel wallets the only condition for this money would be to legalize Cannabis.
The marijuana prohibition has been going on since the early 1930’s when our Founding Fathers had hemp crops for many reasons, two of them being smoking and selling. Our Founding Fathers and cartels both knew the benefits of marijuana that most Americans are slowly realizing today; it is a cash crop. In 2005 it was projected that if Cannabis were to be legalized and taxed at rates similar to alcohol and tobacco products then it would earn anywhere from $10 billion to $14 billion annually which, in 2005, was enough to pay NASA the same amount the government was. However that was 2005 and this is 2012 with Washington and Colorado legalizing the regulation and distribution of marijuana it is projected to produce a total of $1 billion in tax revenue from both states; whereas if Cannabis remained completely illegal federally America would just continue spending $42 billion dollars in 2007 figures.
Not only will the decriminalization of marijuana increase government income by large amounts but it also poses economic benefits in America. Where would it come from? Well the marijuana would be grown by licensed business people. Those business people would need to create more jobs in order to mass produce the Cannabis. Those same business people would have to hire more people to transport the marijuana; thus leading to more money going through the economy and thus improving economic situations nationwide.
Will marijuana be more readily available for teenagers? No it will lower availability. Will legalizing it make it easier for the Cannabis black market to expand? No it will cut 40%-50% of cartel income. Should marijuana be taxed over criminalized? Yes it will greatly increase tax revenue for both state and federal governments as well as save money from stopping a major factor in the war on drugs. Legalizing Cannabis nationwide is one of the most beneficial things anyone can do to help stop the illegal distribution of marijuana and improve economic conditions for America.
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