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Policy Issue: Legalizing Marijuana Essay

2899 words - 12 pages

Currently, drugs remain high on the list of concerns of politicians, and drugs are considered one of the major problems affecting our country. Stories are on 10:00 news every night about people being murdered on the streets because of drugs. Many people think that drugs are only an inner-city problem, but in reality, they affect all of us; non-users and users. I believe that the negative effects associated with drugs would be reduced greatly if the United States adopted a policy towards the total legalization of marijuana. By this I mean completely legalizing marijuana for recreational, medicinal, and other uses. The current drug policy of our government is obviously failing. Drugs are quite present in our society, and the United States drug policy has not deferred drug trafficking to the point where it is beneficial. Drug laws have created corruption, violence, increased street crime, and disrespect for the criminal justice system. Besides that, the American people should be allowed to enjoy what they like to do responsibly and law enforcement could focus their attentions to other more serious crimes.Marijuana comes from the hemp plant, which can readily be grown on fields across the nation and was cultivated heavily in the colonial period. After 130 years of being able to grow and consume marijuana, the potential problems of marijuana were brought into the public eye in 1932. Harry J. Anslingler, the commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, authored the book Marijuana: Assassin of Youth (Goldman 88). In his book, Anslinger portrayed images of Mexican and Negro criminals, as well as young boys, who became killers while under the influence of marijuana. With this and other added public pressure from Anslinger's book, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. This law made the use and sale of marijuana federal offenses, and at this point marijuana vanished from the public eye.In the mid-1960's marijuana reappeared and the "Hippy" emerged. Hippies were viewed as the abnormal people who did not "fit in" and were often referred to as freaks. Widespread objection to the use of marijuana remained because of the lifestyles associated with hippies. Contrary to the belief of the population, the use of marijuana appeared in colleges and among middle-class youths in the suburbs. Marijuana became a symbol of a counter-culture, youthful rebellion, and freedom for the non-hippie users. During the next ten years marijuana use escalated to a point that it was literally everywhere. Marijuana could be found in cities, towns, suburbs, the country, and just about anywhere a person could think of. People rooting from all different backgrounds were using it, and consequently, marijuana was becoming more accepted across the nation. For example, in 1997 a teacher at Pine View School for the Gifted in Sarasota, Florida was "relocated to a different school" because it was found that he was growing marijuana for personal...

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