Legalizing Marijuana in America —The Lowdown
The question of whether Marijuana should be legalized for recreational purposes is a topic which has the ability to tear families and friendship groups apart. The debates can be heated and passionate and people seem to be determined to make their viewpoint known on the subject. So, what are the facts?
At present, as claimed by Drugpolicy, recreational marijuana is legal in only ten of the fifty US states, plus in New York, although it is allowed for medicinal purposes in just over thirty of the states. However, an increasing number of people are calling for its use to be legalized, claiming that the effects of using marijuana are not so bad.
The evidence for this, however, is lacking. According to US attorney James P. Kennedy, writing for the Buffalo News, nearly 170 years after the Californian Gold Rush a similar phenomenon is currently underway—this time, however, it is something of a “Green Rush” instead. It is the case that individuals are scrabbling at the opportunity of cashing in on this potentially lucrative market, should it be legalized.
The evidence into the impacts of marijuana and how it would effect the day-to-day life of citizens is, presently, unclear and largely based on speculation as opposed to on solid research. In fact, in a study published in 2017 by the National Academy of Science, the only real conclusions that could be made were that the effects of cannabis and cannabinoids are still unknown.
The arguments for the legalization of marijuana, aside from users being able to have their high without fear of being prosecuted, are not surprising. As explained in a New York Times article, the Governor of Colorado—the first US state to legalize marijuana use recreationally—Mr Hickenlooper was initially critical of the change, but later amended his views and actually boasted about the increased revenues brought in for the state from the taxation of cannabis sales, which were then used to further improve social programs. His previous concerns of children getting increasingly involved in marijuana, should it be legalized, were also unfounded.
Hence, based on this evidence, there should be a case made for the funds raised through taxation of marijuana sales which can be reinvested in the economy of the state. There is also the added benefit of the additional jobs which the legalization of marijuana would create, which would further increase funds raised from taxes whilst also lowering the unemployment level—however, there are still some concerns for the effect of cannabis and related drugs on the health of the users.
Despite these concerns, however, a recent poll suggested that over half of Americans would still be for its legalization as a recreational drug. When considering the increased taxation revenue; extra availability of jobs; the ability to regulate the sale of marijuana and test each batch for safety and quality; and the reduced risk of black market traders targeting underage or vulnerable individuals, the argument for legalization suddenly becomes much, more clearer.