Legalization of Marijuana Marijuana is the cause of much commotion and debating, as the question of legalization becomes more of an issue. Drugs are a major influential force in countries all over the world today. Legalization is an option that has not had a chance, but really should be given one. Although many people feel that legalizing marijuana would increase the amount of drug use, marijuana should be legalized because it will reduce the great amount of money spent on enforcement, and will therefore increase our countries revenue and lessen crime, and will also be useful in treating certain medical conditions. Marijuana, also known as pot, weed, bud, herb, ghanja, grass, wacky tabacci, funky bhudda, green, indo, mary jane
, hemp, kif, bones, funny stuff, etc. is a substance obtained from the dried leaves and flowering tops of the pistillate hemp plant
. It is technically known as cannabis sativa
and is a tall, widely cultivated Asian herb of the mulberry family. There are many different ways of getting this drug into one's system. The most common method consists of rolling the finely chopped substance in thin papers to make marijuana cigarettes or joints. It is also smoked through a pipe or through a water filtration system known as a bong. Legalization is considered unnecessary by many people. They feel that it will increase the amount of drug use throughout the world. They state that in many cases, drug users who have quit, quit because of trouble with the law. Legalization would eliminate the legal forces that discourage the users from using or selling drugs. They also say that by making drugs legal, the people who have never tried drugs for fear of getting caught by the law, will have no reason to be afraid anymore and will become users (Snyder, 1988). Legalization will be profitable to global economies in two ways. It will allow for money spent on drug law enforcement to be spent more wisely and it will increase revenue. There have been escalating costs spent on the war against drugs and countless dollars spent on rehabilitation. Every year in the United States, ten billion dollars are spent on enforcing drug laws alone. Drug violators accounted for about forty percent of all criminals in federal prisons (Marijuana retains.., 1990, p.A-6). In 1989, a Republican county executive of Mercer County, N.J., estimated that it would costs approximately one billion dollars to build the jail space required to house all the drug users in Trenton alone(Talah, 1993, p. 1-7). All of this money could be spent on things of greater importance. Not only has the drug problem increased, but drug related problems are on the rise. Drug abuse is a killer worldwide. Some are born addicts (crack babies), while others develop addictions later in life. Drug violators are a major cause of extreme overcrowding in US prisons. In 1992, 59000 inmates were added to make a record setting 833600 inmates nationwide. A high percentage of these prisoners were serving time because of drug related incidents. Since 1982, there has been a 160 percent increase in inmate population. One can only imagine what that number is today. Most of this increase is attributed to drug violators, and sadly, this number will only continue to rise(Lorimer, 1993, p.214). 1991 was the most murderous year in the United States since 1972, and police estimated that forty percent of these homicides were drug related(Lorimer, 1993, p.215). Legalizing hemp and other drugs would deter future criminal acts, therefore slowly, but effectively lessening crime. Legalizing drugs would also increase countries revenue. During prohibition, alcohol use was still rampant. People were still drinking, only it was illegal. In the US, the 21st amendment annulled prohibition and alcohol taxes were increased. The same thing should be done with marijuana and other illegal drug today. The drugs should be heavily taxed to increase revenue. The drugs could be made by the same companies who make such things as aspirin, so the quality would be assured -- no poisons or adulterants. Sterile hypodermic needles could be readily available at drug stores, thus curbing the spread of diseases such as AIDS, and hepatitis. These could be taxed densely because the user will be guaranteed of getting 'clean drugs'. Legalizing alcohol did not increase alcoholism, so why would legalizing drugs elevate drug abuse? Another argument as to why marijuana and other illicit substances should be legalized, is because medical professionals have found several applications for the hemp plant. Until 1937, marijuana was legal in the United State for all purposes. As of autumn 1995, only eight Americans were legally allowed to use marijuana as a medicine(Medicinal, 1995). Hemp is classified as a controlled class C substance. If someone is caught in possession of it, they can be fined and or jailed, depending on how much they possess. Even when the use of this substance could cure their illness or prolong their life(Medicinal, 1995,). Many people have been apprehended by authorities for growing marijuana even though it was for their own private medicinal use. A woman in New York was busted for growing a ten foot tall weed plant in her front yard. She was growing it for her son in Brooklyn who suffers from multiple sclerosis. Police arrived at her home and ripped the plant from the ground. After going to trial, she was placed on six months probation(Lukoski, 1994 p.94). This is by far not the only incident. For years people have been saying that marijuana should be a legal crop and that possession should be no more of a crime than the possession of alcohol. A recent Harvard survey of oncologist showed that almost half would prescribe marijuana if it were legal. Marijuana is one of the safest therapeutically active substance known. No one has ever died from an overdose, and it has a wide variety of applications. If cocaine and morphine are being prescribed legally as medicine and are not adding in any significant way to the drug problem, then surely neither would hemp. Some of the conditions in which marijuana would is beneficial include AIDS, glaucoma, cancer, epilepsy, MS and chronic pain. In AIDS patients, marijuana can reduce the nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite caused by the ailment itself and by treatment with AZT and other drugs. When dealing with glaucoma, weed can alleviate pressure within the eye, thereby reducing pain and slowing the progress of the condition. Hemp is useful for cancer patients, as it stimulates the appetite and relieves nausea and vomiting, common side effects of chemotherapy. Marijuana can also prevent epileptic seizures and ease the debilitating pain caused by countless of disorders and injuries. Many patients have also reported that cannabis is useful for treating arthritis, migraines, menstrual cramps, itching, alcohol addiction, depression and other mood disorders. Even though it could be helpful for millions of patients suffering from the above mentioned conditions, medicinal marijuana remains illegal. Therefore sufferers have two options: 1. continue to suffer; or 2. obtain it illegally and risk the consequences. In the United States, there are only two places in which hemp is grown legally. In California it is legal to be grown for medical reasons if granted legal permission, and at the University of Mississippi, where scientists grow marijuana to test its physical makeup. In conclusion, marijuana should be legalized as it is very useful in the medical profession, and will allow for money spent on enforcement to be spent more wisely thus increasing revenue. As for whether or not there will be an increase in drug use, one will never know unless we give legalization a chance.