California was the first state to pass a marijuana law in 1913 followed by the rest of the states in the nation until the year of 1937, when marijuana became completely illegal at the federal level. (Guither) Before then, marijuana and specifically hemp had many uses for colonists and farmers and was such a critical crop for a number of purposes, that the government even encouraged its growth. It was not until Henry J. Anslinger saw the Bureau of Narcotics as a fascinating career opportunity that he latched on trying to make marijuana illegal so he could make a name for himself. It stayed outlawed until November 6, 2012, when Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the sale and possession of cannabis for recreational use since 1937.
The legalization of marijuana has become a hot-button issue in the last several years with fifty-eight percent of Americans wanting the drug to be legalized, surging ten percentage points since 2012. (Swift, 2013) A strong reason why many people changed their mind on keeping marijuana illegal is that scientists and researchers now have enough information to dispute the myth that responsible marijuana use can cause cancer. Clinical studies on the use of cannabis and cancer are few and definitive. However, the ambiguity of most test results done on excessive use of cannabis should not be construed as an endorsement of cannabis’ safety or an allegation of its potential health hazards. (Armentano) Another strong reason why people do not mind legalizing marijuana is because it would save taxpayers loads of money on prisoners in prison because of marijuana charges. American taxpayers are now spending more than a billion dollars per year to imprison its citizens for weed. 12.7 percent of total inmates in prison at the federal and state level are serving time for marijuana offenses. (Armentano, 2007) In order to learn more about the usage of marijuana by adults, teens and elders, as well as learn how much information the public actually knows about the plant, four important questions must be considered.
The following review on literature will provide statistics showing that most of the public is for the legalization of marijuana, discuss how many people regularly partake in smoking weed, inform the audience about the negative and positive effects of cannabis and show statistics about how many people go to prison just for marijuana charges and how much taxpayer’s pay for these prisoners.
In 1969, the first Gallup Poll was taken asking Americans whether or not marijuana should be legalized, the response was overwhelmingly negative with only 12 percent favoring legalization. However, as the public became more educated about cannabis, they also began to support legalization of the plant, as support reached 65 percent in 2013. (Swift, 2013) Fifty-six participants from various demographics were asked about their opinion on the legalization of recreational marijuana. The results indicated that approximately...