Marijuana Should Be Legal Essay

2173 words - 9 pages

Abstract
The following is a proposal for a public policy that would legalize marijuana and have the drug be treated as alcohol. This is necessary because the current policy is detrimental to society and the legalization of marijuana would be beneficial. The prohibition of the drug is unfounded because tobacco and alcohol, legalized substances, are more dangerous than marijuana. Also, the legislation regarding the drug was created on racist sentiments, reducing the law’s credibility. The current policy also creates a dangerous black market and renders our prison system ineffective. The legalization of cannabis would bring undeniable medical and economic benefits to society and the government. Varying degrees of marijuana legalization have proved that, if controlled, the drug is rarely damaging to a society or its population. In fact, the benefits of such legalizations seem to greatly outweigh the drawbacks, making legalization the only logical choice.

The debate over marijuana is endless. Due to historical portrayals, marijuana is still often seen as a dangerous drug. This myth, however, is outdated. In fact, marijuana is actually a useful drug that, if legalized, would bring many positive consequences to society. Marijuana should be legalized and treated like alcohol with regards to its regulation. A change in the outdated federal policy of strict prohibition would be an advancement of society and its values.

To begin with, the racial implications behind the enactment of the policy suggest that it should not have been enacted in the first place. Throughout the early 20th century, marijuana was associated with Mexican laborers in the United States. There was a strong racist sentiment towards Mexicans in America, especially in the Southwest. Consequently, elite Americans looked down upon marijuana use for its association with this particular group (Rowe 26-27). The drug was actually originally spelled “marihuana,” which is how the word appears in the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act that made marijuana illegal. The drug is now commonly referred to as “marijuana.” This happened with the help of William Randolph Hearst, a newspaper-publishing giant in the early 20th century. Hearst began calling the substance “marijuana” so it appeared foreign and became further associated with Mexicans (Gahlinger 34). Later, marijuana became associated with the jazz scene and African Americans. At this time (the 1920s and 1930s), it was considered wrong to have similar lifestyles to those of blacks, hence the shunning of marijuana (Rowe 26).

Thus, marijuana was originally banned for social reasons, not because it was seen
as a dangerous drug in itself. In fact, tobacco and alcohol, two legalized substances, are
far more dangerous than marijuana. First of all, marijuana is much less addictive than
tobacco or alcohol. According to Paul Gahlinger, M.D., Ph.D, a professor at the
University of Utah, the medical value of marijuana is significantly higher than that...

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