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Marijuana Laws: Prohibition Revisited Essay

2331 words - 9 pages

Ever since the federal criminalization of marijuana in the United States in 1937, there has been a large underground drug market (Paul). Much like how the prohibition of alcohol simply forced imbibers underground, those who chose to partake in marijuana are forced to stay away from the prying eye of the law because of present marijuana laws. This means the drug world is concealed from the average citizen, hiding the dangers of drug deals gone wrong, police shootings, and other dangerous occurrences. In a way this allows the government to mask the fact that their well-funded ‘War on Drugs’ is ineffective, a ‘War’ with a budget of roughly twenty billion dollars; which is not profoundly effective in the curbing the use of drugs (Jillette). If the average citizen does not know what is happening, in the eyes of the American zeitgeist, it is not happening. Criminalizing a harmless drug to cut down on its use simply turns its users into criminals, making the crime rate go up and clogging prisons with non-violent criminals. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco and the laws pertaining to it should reflect that.
The legalization of marijuana would let loose the floodgates of free enterprise allowing capitalism to generate marijuana distribution and manufacture corporations which will generate billions upon billions of dollars. Marijuana, if legalized, will almost certainly be taxed by the federal government, generating cash-flow while still keeping prices reasonable. The price of marijuana would also drop exponentially, because the dangers of smuggling and police raids will be eliminated. Legalized marijuana would likely to legal to grow as well, but require some sort of permit, or license to distribute. Just like any other consumable substance. Its sale would also be restricted to persons over 21, so marijuana would still be a semi-controlled substance, just as alcohol and tobacco are.
While such popular and potent drugs (alcohol and nicotine) are legally available to the public, there is fallacious logic in outlawing a drug less exponentially less dangerous and far less addictive than these two easily accessible drugs. Alcohol and nicotine are infinitely more harmful to the human body than marijuana, cannabis simply not toxic enough to kill (In Pot). Marijuana is demonized by the government and much of the media as a dangerous drug, while the deaths of roughly 50,000 people in The United States per year can be contributed to alcohol and 440,000 to tobacco. All the while, marijuana has never directly caused the death of anybody in the entire history of mankind (Jillette). While some would expect marijuana to be at least as carcinogenic as tobacco, recent medical journals have found no link between smoking marijuana and lung cancer (Boyles). One example given in one study was that two-pack-a-day cigarette smokers saw a 20-fold increase in cancer risk when compared to non-smokers, while no elevation in risk was observed in even the...

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