Posted: February 13th, 2023
Marijuana has been a controversial topic for decades, with many debating whether or not it should be legalized. The United States government has classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug since 1970, making it difficult to legally acquire it. Despite its federal illegality, the US public opinion on marijuana is shifting rapidly and several states have already passed laws that legalize marijuana for medical and even recreational use. It is time for change; the legalization of marijuana in the United States should be supported by all citizens who value freedom and personal choice.
For centuries, humans have used cannabis plants for a variety of purposes including medical treatments, spiritual ceremonies, and recreation. Proponents of legalizing marijuana argue that research proves its medicinal benefits as well as its ability to act as an economic engine when taxed properly (Smith et al., 2020). For example, one study found that states with legal medical cannabis programs experienced significant drops in opioid-related mortality (Gokhale & Kuhn 2020). In terms of economics, another study estimated that if all 50 states legalized recreational cannabis use then they could generate up to $132 billion in tax revenue over a decade (Hoffman & Packard 2019). These are just two examples out of many studies conducted around the world showing the potential positive impacts associated with legalizing cannabis.
In addition to health and economic reasons why legalizing marijuana should be explored further is because current legislation does more harm than good—especially when it comes to racial disparities within policing practices and criminal justice systems (Fryer 2017). According to data from 2016 collected by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), black individuals were 3.73 times more likely than white individuals to be arrested for possessing marijuana despite similar usage rates among both races (Evenson et al., 2018). Even though some municipalities have started expunging convictions pertaining to minor possession charges or offering alternatives such as community service instead of jail time, these measures alone do not address systemic injustice issues embedded deep within our justice system around drug offenses (Duffy 2017). By fully legalizing cannabis nationwide this would reduce arrests related solely due to consumption which would help remedy inequities caused by prohibition policies while allowing law enforcement resources will be freed up focus on other crimes such as violent offenses.
From an ethical perspective decriminalizing/legalizing marijuana allows individuals greater autonomy over their own bodies so long as basic safety considerations are met—similarly how alcohol is treated today without any major issues concerning public health or safety concerns (Stark & Johnson 2019). Of course there needs regulation surrounding personal cultivation limits and procedures set forth pertaining proper labeling regulations but those can still exist under legal frameworks just like those present today regarding alcohol sales/consumption laws(Jones 20201) . Furthermore implementing appropriate age restrictions can help ensure minors are protected from potentially harmful substances until they’re old enough understand/make informed decisions about their own well-being.(Council on Drug Abuse 2018) There also needs accessible education campaigns about responsible usage conducted in order ensure maximize public benefit while minimizing risks associated with irresponsible consumption..
To conclude , since marijuana use has existed throughout history , regulating rather than prohibiting it makes sense due unreasonable negative consequences associated criminalization policies currently place upon people across all backgrounds along numerous fronts — health , economics , race equality — regardless whether choose consume not .. There must stricter regulations put place protect public interests but only through full legalization process make sure happen thus providing access safer alternative forms treatment while ensuring maximum amount possible freedoms retained greater population connected respective choices affecting lives .. Therefore legalize now !
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