Marijuana Legalization: Removing the Smokescreen

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For decades, the United States government and anti-marijuana lobbyists have used misleading information and propaganda to demonize and keep marijuana illegal. The current laws regarding marijuana are fueled by prejudicial moral attitudes based on biased information, half-truths, and exaggerated myths of the danger it poses, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Once these misconceptions are removed, it is obvious that the legalization of marijuana poses less of a risk compared to already socially acceptable legal drugs, like alcohol and tobacco, and will not cause the downfall of society as many fear. In addition, legalization will have a positive economic advantage, taking marijuana out of the hands of dangerous drug cartels and opening a market for domestic production and sales. This additional revenue generated by regulated and taxed marijuana sales, as well as the money saved on law enforcement and imprisonment of offenders can be used on more important domestic issues.
An example of the scare tactics used to try to convince the American people that marijuana is dangerous can be seen as far back as 1935, in a propaganda filmed called “Reefer Madness” (Gasnier & Hirliman, 1935). The film chronicles the effects of marijuana use on a group of teenagers, depicting murder, blackouts and insanity as a result of its use, none of which are based on scientific fact. Ironically, this film became a cult classic comedy in the 1970’s due to the over-the-top depiction of marijuana use (Armstrong, n.d.). Although an educational film as glaringly inaccurate as this would never be released today, it is a good example of how long the American public has been misinformed about the dangers of marijuana.
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