The dispute over the legalization of cannabis sativa, more commonly known as marijuana, is one of the most controversial issues ever to take place in the United States. Its use as a medicine has existed for thousands of years in many countries across the globe. Legalization should be considered despite efforts made by groups who say marijuana is a harmful drug that will increase crime rates and lead users to other more dangerous substances. The legalization of marijuana can improve our society by helping with our economy, freeing legal resources, and benefiting the overall health of the nation though medical uses.
Helping the Economy
Our economy in America is hurting right now. We need something to help boost it and bring our country out of debt. Taxation on legalized marijuana could help aid in this goal. Assuming the taxes are comparable to tobacco, a $40 billion marijuana market would yield about $16-20 billion in taxes (Nelson, 2010, para. 24). There are worries that the black market will undercut the legitimate sales of marijuana, which might be very true, the same thing has happened with tobacco. Having the security of knowing where the marijuana is coming from and that it was grown without harmful chemicals, altered by a third party, and knowing it is a quality product is a deterrent to black market purchases. Marijuana would also still be illegal to purchase from the black market.
If marijuana were legalized it would open up a whole new commerce in industrial hemp farming and the products that are made from it. The products that can be made from hemp number over 25,000 (Hemp Facts, 1997). A few of those products include paper, clothing, rope, fuel, and building materials. Hemp can be cultivated once or in some cases more than once per year, where timber has a twenty to thirty year rotation. We could create many products and have many uses from the hemp plant while helping de-forestation in the process.
With the amount of products that could be created through the legalization of marijuana this could only create more jobs to fuel the production of these goods. In addition, private companies or the government are going to need more people to help grow and cultivate marijuana for public sales. President Obama held an online town hall meeting and one of the questions asked was:
With over 1 out of 30 Americans controlled by the penal system, why not legalize, control, and tax marijuana to change the failed war on drugs into a money making, money saving boost to the economy? Do we really need that many victimless criminals? (Montopoli, 2009, para. 3)
President Obama’s answer to the question was “The answer is, no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy. (para. 9)” but he never specified why. Later, he said jobs would come from investing in clean energy technologies. (para. 17) He may be right, but I believe that hemp could be a clean energy technology especially in the bio-fuels...