Marijuana also known as cannabis comes from the cannabis plant and has various contemporary uses such as religious uses for spiritual cultural rites, for recreation purposes and more importantly for medicinal purposes. Marijuana is also intended to be used as a psychoactive drug. Marijuana or cannabis use in present times has been a very controversial issue with relentless efforts from governments to try and curtail its use. These, efforts however, have been to no avail. Instead this problem has continued to escalate, begging the question of whether or not the government should legalize marijuana. There are various arguments of why marijuana should be legalized and they are discussed as follows.
Upholding of personal freedoms and liberty. To prohibit marijuana use goes against these very ideas we claim to value so much and vow to protect. An individual should have the right to decide whether to use marijuana or not, one should have the freedom of choice. If one considers the benefits arising from marijuana use to supersede the limitations, then he/she should be allowed to do so freely as long as they bring no harm to others.
Prohibition does not discourage drug use, this notion that people can be deterred from using marijuana by making it illegal is outdated, non-factual and unsupported by statistics which seems to state otherwise. In fact, this seems to attract even more users to the ‘drug’. This behavior could be attributed to the so called ‘forbidden fruit’ effect. Prohibition of marijuana has, therefore, contributed to its increased availability and use. If marijuana were legalized, this would grant the government a chance to control its distribution and supply in the society to acceptable limits. Like alcohol, where there are set rules prohibiting usage by underage persons, legalizing marijuana would give the government a chance to protect underage persons against drug use until they are mature enough to make their own decisions. The black market makes marijuana easily available even to underage children especially those in high school. Moreover instead of channeling so much energy to fighting marijuana use, such efforts should be diverted to educational programs to educate the youth on responsible decision making.
War on drugs is a costly affair. Billions of dollars have been used and continue to be recklessly wasted on the war against drugs. This extends a financial burden to citizens who finance these efforts via taxes. The government also foregoes possible revenue by prohibiting marijuana use. There is an extensive market for marijuana which rakes in billions of dollars through the black market these huge revenues after the governments legalized marijuana use legal. These funds could be used to promote economic development in the country.
It is estimated that an average of 750,000 people in a year are arrested for use or distribution of marijuana. A large number of these people charged for marijuana violation are charged for mere possession and they end up in prisons. In the United States alone, it is estimated that an average of 734,000 persons are incarcerated for marijuana related offenses (United States Census Bureau). By extension this extends a heavy burden to others in society who by virtue of paying taxes contribute heavily to the payment of healthcare and other utilities for the prisoners, not forgetting to mention attorney fees. Moreover, incarceration of people who use marijuana has detrimental effects, those who have kids, loose them to foster care solely as a result of their recreational drug of choice. This causes financial hardships, pain for the affected families. It should be considered just as any other recreational drug of choice such as alcohol and tobacco. Haphazard arrests of marijuana users, distributors or those merely possessing it endangers the respect for the law and elucidates a certain level of contempt for the justice system from the general public.
Marijuana legalization would contribute to the elimination of the black market which will continue to thrive as long as marijuana is still illegal. The black market is the breeding zone of everything evil and illegal and it would be in society’s best interest if efforts to counter its growth were put in place. Black markets make access to marijuana very easy to individuals of all orientation including underage children. The black market also facilitates illegal arms dealing hence the number of criminal gangs terrorizing society continues to be on the rise. As a result of its black market existence, money laundering a highly punishable offense is inevitable and the millions of dollars are channeled through the financial system. These funds, however, don’t usually always end up in the financial system but instead it’s diverted to other activities which more often than not are always illegal.
Marijuana has for a long time being credited for its high medicinal properties. As a psychoactive drug, marijuana is used as an anti-depressant and stress reliever. Marijuana is also known for its medicinal abilities as a pain reliever and appetite stimulator especially for patients undergoing chemotherapy. It alleviates unnecessary suffering from patients who would, otherwise, be left destitute in its absence.
The hemp plant, where marijuana is derived from, is a valuable natural resource with undeniable positive attributes. For instance, this is its development as a new bio-fuel which will contribute greatly to reducing carbon emissions in this era of ‘going green’. The hemp plant is also a pertinent raw material in the production of plastic, paper and fabric. Therefore, to prohibit marijuana use subsequently implies the non-production of the hemp plant, thus denying society of these possible benefits.
Prohibition of marijuana is based on distorted information. The governments in its efforts to discourage marijuana use have continuously distorted facts and provided nonfactual information. This is in an effort to instill fear in the general population so that they may stay away from its use or distribution. The government should, however, be responsible enough to provide all factual data and information supported by the relevant statistics and allow its citizens to make their own decisions, regarding its use, rather than rely on groundless claims and exaggerated stories. In the United States alone tobacco and alcohol are credited as the highest causes of death (United States Government, National Institute on Drug Abuse) with marijuana causing the least deaths of all illegal drugs. Information of this caliber should be availed to the public in a much more transparent way to clear the misconceptions regarding marijuana.
Various religions that exist today actually condone marijuana use. In fact in the Rastafarian religion marijuana is an essential part of their beliefs. To prohibit marijuana use in such occasions is an infraction of some of the most basic rights in our constitution – the freedom of worship.
Marijuana does not result into serious health complications compared to those arising from serious dependency or addiction to other narcotic drugs. Complications such as heart failure, liver cirrhosis from alcohol, these are unlikely complications for marijuana users. Death from an overdose of marijuana is almost unlikely, and respiratory hazards that are arise from smoking marijuana can be mitigated by altering the means and ways of ingesting, for instance, ingesting marijuana via baked foods.
The use, distribution, possession and trade of marijuana have been the subject of contention for decades with most countries still reluctant to legalize it. However, some countries have come of age and they have legalized its use although on a limited basis and not for personal use, but strictly for medicinal use. Medicinal use of cannabis is legal in some states in the United States, Canada, Israel and the Czech Republic. For as long as laws against cannabis seeking to criminalize it prevails, then constant infractions of these laws will exist. It is, therefore, of a great necessity to legalize marijuana so as to finally bring normalcy and settle this age old feud.