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Legalize It Essay

1720 words - 7 pages

Legalize It! The issue of marijuana usage has always been kept on the backburner in American society. The stigma of drug usage forces marijuana users to smoke in secrecy, in dark alleys or dank and dangerous drug houses. Current marijuana policy is an ineffective and costly failure. However, Americans still choose to use marijuana on a regular basis. In addition, marijuana has posed no threat to the American public. Legalizing this drug has been proven to be successful in several areas. Our society has thrived on the idea that every individual has the freedom of choice. So by legalizing marijuana, we would be relinquishing more freedom to the American people.Congress has been exaggerating marijuana's potential dangers to scare the public into stopping its use. This shows that most members of Congress are simply out of touch with the public. The public already knows the difference between marijuana and other more dangerous drugs. The money spent on bashing marijuana can in fact be better spent on more of its research, especially research regarding medical uses, which not surprisingly, the government has put off for years.The government has taken steps in changing marijuana policies. In 1972, a blue-ribbon panel of experts appointed by President Richard Nixon concluded that marijuana prohibition was a greater harm to the user than to the use of marijuana itself. It was recommended that laws be changed to take away criminal penalties for personal use of marijuana and for its casual distribution in small amounts. (National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse) A number of other commissions have looked at this and almost all have come up with similar results: It has been shown that the dangers of marijuana smoking have been blown way out of proportion and the private use of marijuana should not be a crime. (New Zealand Parliamentary Health Select Committee) Former President Jimmy Carter cited a key finding from the Marijuana Commission in a message to Congress in 1977, which is equally true today: "Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marijuana in private for personal use." Steps taken by the government have been shown to be successful. Eleven states adopted policies during the 1970s that substituted criminal penalties with a small civil fine enforced with a citation. (1) Today, approximately 30% of the population in this country live under some type of marijuana decriminalization law, and they have been successful. A U.S. federal study found that, "Decriminalization has had virtually no effect on either marijuana use or on related attitudes about marijuana use among young people."(Johnson, L.D.) Studies also show that after an initial increase in marijuana use because of decriminalization, the numbers have eventually fallen back to normal. Then, the numbers dropped even further. Follow-up studies from the...

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