Marijuana, commonly known as ‘weed’ or ‘pot’, is a preparation of the cannabis plant for use as a drug or medical reasons. It has been used for thousands of years. Substance abuse is in some instances best explained in terms of the interaction between different personal and environmental factors. This has been compounded by the complex human behavior and social problem. There is evidence in the field of medicine to recommend marijuana to be used for a couple of medical conditions. Such position in medicine has been a crucial force behind efforts to change the legal status of marijuana. However, the use of marijuana, in the United States has been facing an array of challenges leading to the current debate on the legalization of the drug.
From a critical perspective, the legalization of marijuana should be thought and planned carefully. However, it is worth noting that marijuana regulations vary significantly in different countries. There are a few countries that already have the sale of recreational marijuana legal, like the Netherlands and the British Columbia but, most of the marijuana sold around the world is forbidden. There are also two states, Washington State and Colorado, in the United States that have legalized the use of recreational marijuana. Recently, marijuana is used a lot for recreational use. It has been used by almost 100 million Americans, and 14 million do so regularly. The United States government’s prohibition of marijuana came under intense criticism, with critics saying that enforcing marijuana prohibition is costing taxpayers an estimated $10 billion a year. Most supporters are of the opinion that the establishment of such legislation could deter the crime rate because of reduced trafficking. A reduction in trafficking of marijuana and use would boost productivity and increase the health conditions of the users.
There have been many estimates on how extensive the marijuana market is in the United States, ranging from $10 billion to $120 billion. The prohibition of marijuana in some states in the United States prevents taxation, production and sale (Miron 7). According to researchers, this has some negative effects on the national budgets. The government is not able to levy taxes on the sale of marijuana. It has not been possible for a given state to enforce its own marijuana laws without permission from the federal government. It is also not possible for a person producing and selling marijuana to handle such an activity openly if the federal government still prohibits marijuana. Considering a case of the state of Colorado and Washington where legalization of marijuana has been possible, the budgetary implications of legalization exceed those of decriminalization. The economy can improve if the arrests in different states for trafficking and possession are eliminated.
Another effect to the economy on legislation is the reduction in incarceration expenses incurred. The long judicial process and prosecuting of these criminals, which costs the governments a lot of money is eliminated. The portion of the national budgets devoted to crimes related to marijuana arrests could reduce. The taxation of the marijuana business has generated revenue for these state governments. Considering the action will be effective in the two states, an estimated expenditure and local savings of$120.6 million is available while generating tax revenue of at least $16.9 million.
Some people would argue that marijuana is exceedingly harmful for the people’s health, but there are many things that are legal and are worse than marijuana. For instance, alcohol is widely used in America, and 50,000 people die each year from alcohol poisoning. Tobacco is another thing that is used widely in the U.S, and around 400,000 people die from smoking tobacco each year. There has not been any report of deaths as a result of consumption of marijuana. This is although the sale of marijuana is not regulated and the quality checked properly.
The legalization of marijuana is most likely to increase its consumption if there is a decline in prices. The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes started in 1996 in California (Hallfors & Khatapoush 751). Patients were allowed to cultivate and use marijuana with written or oral recommendations from a doctor.
For instance, the United States, spends an approximately $26 billion a year on its war on drugs. A considerable percentage of those arrested on drug related charges are young adults. Marijuana trade, because of violence and crime rate, has hampered productivity in some societies. The young population in the United States drug offenders is 25% in prisons and correctional facilities. Majority of the people living in America have always opposed the idea of legalized marijuana. A large group of the population view drugs as a serious problem nationally, but not in the local scene.
Scholars and civil societies have not welcomed the ongoing legislation of marijuana in some states. Critics have urged that such an approach could send the wrong message to the youth. The youth’s perspectives and attitudes could vary significantly and result in greater recreational use, not only marijuana but also other drugs (Alzubair pers. Obs.). Such legislation is seen by critics as ways of undermining efforts to safeguard young adults from abusing harmful drugs. A survey conducted by the Barry McCaffrey, the former director of national Drug Control Policy in the United States reveals that children, who have used marijuana, are 85 times likely to use cocaine and cigarettes compared to those who never used. This is because marijuana is seen as a stepping-stone to other illicit drugs. Therefore, labeling it as medicine to children means it is a harmless substance.
The dangerous effects caused by the use of marijuana in most states are undermined by claims that it has medicinal value. The society has seriously been skeptical about the medical legalization approach as more youths may have easy access to and availability of these drugs (Joffe et.al 634). Researchers, policy makers and health professional have a role to play for the society in advising on the impact of such policies on substance use. For most researchers, the enormous worry is not whether marijuana is harmful or helpful, but whether the perception of its benefits will increase its abuse.
According to the survey that I conducted in my class, most of the respondents remained liberal on the use of marijuana for recreational purposes and medicinal. 58 % of respondent had tried marijuana for recreational use, while 68% would not be more open using marijuana if it were legalized. On the side of the federal government legalizing marijuana, 63% were of the opinion that state government should be left to decide on their own while 37% opted for the federal government intervention on legislation. During the survey, most of the class emphasized for the legalization of recreational marijuana. They perceived less risk of harm in occasional marijuana use.
On the comparison between marijuana and alcohol, 42% said alcohol is worse than marijuana. 21% responded that marijuana is worse than alcohol. 37% said that alcohol and marijuana are the same. The age for the consumption of alcohol varied depending on the age for a first attempt, with 69% before the age of 18 years (Joffe et.al. 636). From the survey, I found that while the perceptions of harm from marijuana use had decreased overtime, alcohol and other drug use remained stable. Though support for medicinal use and legalization increased with time, personal approval for recreation use decreased. Therefore, policy changes can, in fact, send the wrong message and increase consumption among the young generation. Regardless of the class position on these issues, it is evident that policy debate both in the various states of America may have not been fully informed by research. This is because the available and different legislative approaches are implemented in different areas in different locations, with minimal planning for evaluation of the impact of these changes. Monitoring of these changes has not been successful on a regular basis.
The drug threat has become a worldwide concern for many governments in the recent days. The government of the United States has an obligation to ban the production, distribution and use of marijuana. Prohibition is the latest drug policy in many states in the America. Stiff penalties and harsher criminal justice penalties remain the only solution for drug peddlers and users. Another model the government of the United States can use to eliminate the drug problem is through harm reduction. This approach entails the use of trained health professional to minimize the risk and consequences associated with drug use. The program element may include education to users of the drugs on the effects, prevention mechanisms, treatment and instructing addicts on how to use drugs safely.
The free market system involved in the advertising and marketing of substances to minors should be abolished. The American medical association should take a fairly prohibitive stand against legislation and develop a comprehensive national drug policy. The community support is also essential in the eradication of the drug problem. Community initiatives and programs are essential to reach out to the young generation in colleges and universities. The school curriculum ought to be revised to provide classes on the importance of a drug free society, and the consequences that emanate with the abuse of drugs.
The importance of a healthy lifestyle free from drugs and ways of being dependent to the young adults need to be addressed. The leisure time most of the young people have should be made more productive, by setting up gyms and football matches for recreation purposes. Such initiative will ensure teenagers are not idle and can resist from anti-social behaviors’. Alternatively the government should increase funding and support to government and volunteer drug control programmers. These attempts will boost their resource mobilization in bringing awareness and dealing with deviant behavior.