Let me preface this post by saying that in my life I have never used any drugs, nor do I want to. I think that with my personality I would get addicted too quickly and it would become a danger to me, much the same reason why I don’t smoke cigarettes and why I control myself when I drink alcohol. I don’t trust myself with them so I don’t do them. Nor do I have any close friends and family whom might benefit from marijuana being legalized. There truly would be little to no personal benefit to legalizing it, this is more a realization that overall marijuana would be a decent drug to legalize. So on with my logic…
1) Honestly from talking with and knowing users of marijuana, cigarettes and alcohol; marijuana doesn’t seem that different of a drug than these other two. It seems less addictive than cigarettes, but more addictive than alcohol. It inhibits your judgement far more than cigarettes, but about on par with alcohol. I would personally say this inhibition is better than alcohol as marijuana users seem far less violent when under the influence and far less likely to travel while inhibited, and they also seem far more aware of their inhibition than drunks. So basically it is in the same league as already legalized drugs.
2) The obvious value of marijuana on national tax income is obvious. The caveat to taxing marijuana is that if we tax it the way we tax cigarettes, this point is moot. In many places nearly all, if not all, of the money generated from cigarette taxes go into programs and advertising to stop smoking. Not that this is an inherently bad thought, but some of that money could be put into say school programs that are currently being ripped apart by lack of funds. Thus providing our youth a healthier intellectual base to stand on and may be less likely to start smoking in the first place and even worse. Likewise, money from marijuana can be put into the school system, police forces, fire departments, and social security in the country in order to aid these programs to be better in the first place and give us a better country to live in. Of course I am sure that some of the tax income would go to stopping weed use and abuse, that is to be expected but if kept down to a quarter, this money could be a boon to our society.
3) In addition to tax income, we would see a general increase in funds from the lack of convicts who need not be there. Imagine the number of prisoners we could release on day 2 of the legalization just from people who got put into prison for using or dealing drugs. The prisons which are overcrowded and strapped for cash would all of a sudden be lifted of a significant part of their populations and we would no longer have to pay for these hundreds of thousands of prisoners to live in prison. Furthermore the hundreds of millions of dollars spent each year on the war on drugs would be drastically reduced as well. I am sure that there would still be some for XTC, cocaine, and more hardcore drugs, but mary jane is one of the main drugs out there that we wouldn’t have to protect against anymore.
4) With the United States legalizing marijuana, I believe the floodgates would open to many other countries doing the same. In particular, I believe that the Central & South American countries as well as Canada would all at the very least strongly consider legalization. This could have many positive side effects for the U.S. It could lower the influence of drug cartels, create new means for more poor countries to make money, and thus also have the ability to lower illegal immigration to the United States by making poor countries more wealthy. Also by taking this crop away from cartels, it would lower their ability to purchase or even need weapons, and also have the side effect of lowering terrorism funded by drugs.
5) While there would definitely be a market for importing marijuana, it could also be produced easily here at home. This could be a boon to American farmers as well. Cash crops here in the States are often alcohol related and tobacco. This would add another cash crop that could benefit us. Not only that, but marijuana is naturally more healthy for the soil than tobacco is, thus we could change tobacco crops for marijuana crops which won’t ruin the land it is grown on further benefiting farmers.
6) Because marijuana can so easily be grown here in the United States, it would be a crop that we could export to other countries that may also decide to legalize drugs. This would create another way that we could profit on this. I mean imagine it, we aren’t known for extremely high quality alcohols, wines, or tobaccos; but marijuana we have the capability being ahead of much of the rest of the world in quality on and thus could create an instant demand for.
7) Overall, this legalization could increase jobs here in the United States, by making farming more realistic, and also by having a new item to produce, refine, market, sell, and use. More jobs is always a good thing.
8) Our country is quickly becoming very competent to be able to handle Weed in public thanks to many states and areas instituting smoking bans. There are a number of states already and even more considering it. Living in Madison we now enjoy indoor smoking bans, and it is quickly spreading to include much of the county with the state lawmakers now considering making the ban state-wide. With these type laws in place from the get-go, smoking pot in areas where kids are present will be easier to deal with.
9) I’m a firm believer in the concept of de-romanticizing illicit behavior. What this essentially means is that I believe that by banning it and making it a stigma, we are actually promoting marijuana’s use by the youth of America. Now this can not ever be completely solved. As there will always be a segment who will not be allowed to use, for instance alcohol is romanticized for those under the age of 21, and for many, drinking goes down as the person hits 21 and it no longer becomes a big deal. My suggestion is to make both pot and alcohol legal for people at the age of 19. Thus keeping it out of high schools while lowering the amount of “coolness” that college students would get out of consuming.
10) Lastly, for a country that seems to pride itself on taking lots and lots of anti-depressents, pot may be one of the better on the list and we aren’t using it. It calms people and makes them feel happy all at once. We seem ok with this in other drugs so why not. And better yet this one is all natural no artificial chemicals and what not that plague the drug companies currently.
Concerns. There are certainly concerns. Addiction is one, but certainly this is already a problem on some degree, like other drugs in America that are perfectly legal, moderation is key and will have to be drilled into people. But lets face it marijuana addiction in the U.S. is already an issue I doubt the rate of pot addiction will actually go up that much. Another issue is the ability for minors to get pot. By making it more widely available, it does increase the ability of kids getting it. But honestly I don’t think it is as big as people think. For one, this is already an issue again. But another reason this may not be a huge issue is that by taking selling of drugs away from criminals and people on the street and giving it to stores, you decrease the chance that kids will get it in the first place. Yes, you still have the ability for them to much like cigarettes and alcohol, but probably less than what is currently out there.