The Decriminalization of Marijuana.
Marijuana is also referred to as cannabis and has been in use since times immemorial and it is only after the 20th century that its usage increased. It is estimated that about 4% of the world’s population use it annually. Marijuana prohibition has been built on lies and misconceptions. The “Reefer Madness” campaign from the 1930s was only the beginning of the misrepresentations that have shaped our current marijuana drug policies. Despite the efforts of the U.S. government to abolish marijuana use, millions of people frequently enjoy the benefits of the cannabis plant. The legalization of Marijuana would have an advantageous outcome for society.
The debate on cannabis consumption has been one of the hottest debates in the United States and this is something that has polarized the American society between those who advocate for its decriminalization and those who are against it. Both sides cite different reasons to support their arguments for example its opponents argue that the substance is addictive and makes it a habit amongst the youth to use it and that above this, it has many grave consequences such as health implications and it leads to the rise in the level of crime (Walton 276). These people say that various scientific researches that have been conducted show that marijuana use leads to distortion of perceptions and causes other general brain malfunctions. These people also argue that consumption of marijuana is morally wrong and is against religious ethics. It is also said that decriminalization of marijuana would pave way for other more harmful dugs such as cocaine and heroine. These opponents also try to show that there is a link between its usage and the rise in crime level. They maintain that most of the crimes that occur are committed by marijuana users in that it gives one false beliefs for example a weak person may come to belief that they are strong and that the can attack anyone and that is how most crimes result according to them.
Most of the above stated arguments are based on misconceptions because researches that have been done show that this is not true in fact they show opposite that is, there is no link between decriminalization of marijuana and increase in its consumption rate.( National Academy of Sciences, 139-40) Marijuana has been used as a medicinal plant since antiquity and this has continued up to now otherwise there is no good reason as to why a health hazardous plant such as cannabis would continue to be used to treat people. If it has medicinal value then it should be decriminalized so that it could be widely planted to ensure there is enough supply.
Marijuana should not be made to look as if it is entirely harmful. It has many positive uses and for this reason it is only the heavy users and those who get hold of it for commercial purposes that should find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Home users who take it for personal medicinal needs or for pleasure should not be made to look like other criminals and hence the need for its decriminalization and this is the same conclusion that was reached by a non partisan marijuana National commission of 1972 that was made by Richard Nixon. (Schosser, 23)
The government of United States spends billions of money to enforce laws on marijuana consumption something that would not happen if it was decriminalized. This money could be used to cater for other needs like financing other sectors that are in dire need of financial assistance. The government spends this money on paying police force, arresting culprits, prosecuting, sentencing and in incarcerating criminals. “By reducing or eliminating these marijuana related events, there would be a proportionate decrease in the agency expenses” (Austin, 2).
According to Hamid (125), marijuana as a drug substance has been used for many centuries. It is believed to have been in use as early as in the 5th BC by Scythians and around the same time in India by Sadhus for spiritual purpose. Since then, its uses have been increasing ranging from being taken for religious needs and for pleasure to medical uses. Scientific researches show that this plant has over four hundred chemicals but its biggest component is psychoactive chemical known as delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Marijuana leaves and grains are chewed, dried and smoked, chewed or brewed. It is taken as a cure for menstrual cramps, toothaches and headaches. It is again used as an antidepressant and bronchodilator. Marijuana plant was also approved as an effective drug for preventing vomiting and nausea in 1985 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Apart from the plant being used for its medicinal purposes it is also used as a vegetation cover to prevent soil erosion and as a cash crop. There are people who have been enriched by it especially those who traffic secretly and trade with it. This is enough evidence that the plant is a good source of income. (Walton 282)
Decriminalization campaigns do not go to waste as they have succeeded in awakening several states to the importance of marijuana decriminalization. Some of these states are Alaska, Colorado, North Carolina, Ohio, New York, Minnesota, Oregon and Maine (Suellentrop, 2001) Indeed, decriminalizing of marijuana has been based on misconception and vague reasoning. Its opponents try to make marijuana look as if it is the most harmful when compared to other drugs such as cocaine heroine and intoxicants like alcohol but this is not true because researches show that they are more harmful than cannabis. Despite the fact that marijuana has been used for a very long time, some states has made a move to prohibit especially after the reefer madness campaigns. The government should try to see the essence of decriminalizing marijuana for example the much that would be saved in terms of its spending.
Austin J. Rethinking the Consequences of Decriminalizing Marijuana. Accessed from http://www.jfa-associates.com/Marijuana_Study.pdf.
Hamid A. Drugs in America: Sociology, Economics, and Politics. Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 1998.
National Academy of Sciences. Marijuana and Medicine. National Academy Press: Washington, D.C., 102, 1999. Available at http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=6376&page=137
Suellentrop C. Which States Have Decriminalized Marijuana Possession? 2001. Available at http://www.slate.com/id/1007088/
Schlosser E. Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004.
Walton DN. Plausible Argument in Everyday Conversation. SUNY Press, 1992. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.