Legalization of Marijuana
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Marijuana is a substance that has become very much a part of American culture. Nearly 65 million Americans have either used it occasionally or regularly. The use of marijuana hit mainstream America about thirty years ago and it has been accepted by a large segment of society ever since (Rosenthal 16). The debate on whether this substance should be legalized or not remains a very hot topic today. Despite government efforts
to isolate and eliminate its use, it is clear that the use of marijuana is still very popular.
There is an obvious problem concerning marijuana today. Governments on all three levels: local, state, and federal are trying desperately to find an appropriate policy involving marijuana. National polls show that more than 70% of the American
people, from both ends of the political spectrum, support controlled access to marijuana for medicinal purposes. Despite fierce opposition from the federal government, voters in California and Arizona passed ballot initiatives in the fall of 1996 favoring the legalization of medicinal marijuana (Randall 33).
If support for marijuana at least as a medicinal remedy is so high, then why have only a few states taken steps to change their policy? There are several reasons why marijuana remains illegal. Mainly, it is a political issue kicked around by certain special interest groups. Some of these groups perceive marijuana as a threat to the home, tearing families apart and causing them to abandon traditional values. However these groups usually are not legitimate areas of legislation. The more powerful groups have other, more practical reasons for keeping marijuana illegal. Among the most powerful of these groups are the combined law enforcement-judiciary-penal systems. This group sees the elimination of marijuana laws as a threat to their jobs. Add to this group defense lawyers, who stand to make millions of dollars defending marijuana offenders. Consciously or not, they support anti-marijuana laws (Rosenthal 2).
Another interest group includes the scientists whose marijuana research is funded by the
government. If marijuana were legalized, they would lose millions of dollars in research grants intended to prove the detrimental effects of the substance. Two other unrelated and very influential groups are the liquor lobby and pharmaceuticalcompanies. Their spending is usually very secretive and not publicized very much. Legalization of a
competing product that can be produced with relative ease by anyone with access to a plot of land would cut deeply into their profits. And the drug companies want control, rather than just a ban, for they know the medicinal benefits of marijuana (Rosenthal 9). Therefore the major reason marijuana still remains illegal is that special interest groups are blocking legislation by extensive lobbying. Clearly it is seen that manypeople support its use, at least for medical reasons. It is...