Scholars and researchers are continually showing interest in the marijuana legalization topic in the United States. Although Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012, some states are hesitant to decriminalize this drug since few studies prove its medicinal advantages (Wu et al. 393). Many organizations and individuals support the idea of legalizing marijuana based on its benefits. Nonetheless, this drug has been considered a destructive herb that jeopardizes people’s lives. However, its pros, such as medicinal benefits, job creation, economic enhancement, and crime reduction, outweigh marijuana’s disadvantages.
The proper use of marijuana has helped save lives and minimize the effects of various illnesses. The different ways marijuana can be used for medical purposes include smoking, drinking, or eating it (Cohn et al. 203). Medicinal marijuana helps relieve pain in cancer patients and assists individuals with depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic issues, and anxiety. Many American states have legalized marijuana, increasing the spread of medical marijuana dispensaries. The reason is that research about the advantages has been conducted and yielded positive outcomes. Cohn et al. explain that the marijuana plant contains chemicals effective in relieving chronic pain (205). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved using medications containing cannabidiol (CBD) for the treatment of two severe epilepsy types (Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut). Marijuana legalization would also decrease prescriptions and opiate consumption (205). Using opioid painkillers is challenging because it can lead to addiction. Although they effectively alleviate pain, overdose cases have caused many deaths. Therefore, marijuana legalization will play a significant role in improving healthcare.
Marijuana legalization would benefit not only individuals but also the government. The reason is that there will be additional money derived from opening more dispensaries and taxing them. Corresponding to Ghosh et al., recreational and medical marijuana has enabled Colorado to collect above one hundred and thirty-five million dollars in fees and taxes (5). Investopedia estimates that the American government will collect more than one hundred and thirty billion dollars by 2025 if it legalized marijuana (Cohn et al. 207). This would translate to more job creation and enhanced livelihood for the households.
The creation of jobs is an essential factor in improving people’s lives. For instance, individuals will be employed in different places such as healthcare organizations and factories, improving their living standards. Marijuana legalization will encourage individuals to invest in nurseries and dispensaries because they would be assured of a good market. Many people in the United States long to acquire such an opportunity and showcase their potential in life (Cohn et al. 209). Marijuana legalization would help in money-making and assist the government in saving. The United States spends 3.6 billion dollars to lock individuals who use or sell marijuana in areas that have not legalized it (Cohn et al. 210). This money would be saved and used in other areas such as improving schools, healthcare organizations, and the less fortunate in society. For instance, Cohn et al. explain that the sale of marijuana in Washington surpassed one billion dollars in 2017 (210). The revenue collected was used to fund Medicaid services benefitting low-income earners.
Marijuana legalization will not only create jobs but also vastly contribute to the tourism industry. As a result, the United States economy will be significantly boosted. Corresponding to Cohn et al., 85% of individuals who visited the dispensary in 2015 in Colorado state explained that the motive behind their vacation was marijuana legalization (211). This implies that a portion of the economic growth experienced in this state was from legal marijuana.
Legalizing marijuana will help clear the United States prisons and jails. Cohn et al. explain that many people have been locked up because they use this herb for recreational and medical purposes (211). Releasing these individuals would help save money, which can deal with more severe charges. Some people argue that marijuana legalization will increase the number of individuals hurting themselves or others and driving under the influence. However, a recent study has proved a drop in violent crimes in the US states that have legalized marijuana. This drug is a “gateway,” meaning it opens many other drugs doors that do not have positive or good attributes. On the contrary, Nevada conducted a study recently proving the drop in driving under alcohol influence and alcoholism one year after the state legalized marijuana (Cohn et al. 213). This proves that people would become more responsible and minimize using other drugs. However, it is essential to consider how helpful marijuana can be to people in society.
Marijuana legalization opponents claim that the herb has more disadvantages than advantages. Corresponding to Cerdá et al., a recent study showed that 9% of individuals who use marijuana get addicted (143). One of the most significant reasons people oppose marijuana legalization is that it is considered another narcotics’ gateway. In addition, individuals argue that its use will increase because the drug will be readily available to people of all ages. However, no conclusive evidence proves that marijuana’s drug effects are linked to other illicit drugs’ subsequent use (Cerdá et al. 145). Therefore, studying marijuana consumers’ drug use evolution would be an excellent idea to determine whether the drug is a gateway.
The opponents also explain that legal marijuana will encourage individuals to drive while intoxicated. Moreover, it would increase the cases of people being hurt by marijuana users (Cerdá et al. 146). Others believe that marijuana’s side effects, including mood changes, altered senses, memory loss, and impaired body movement, will change the users’ personalities. Researchers have compared people’s views about marijuana with other drugs. As a result, they have established that most individuals believe that marijuana use is worse than tobacco or alcohol use (Cerdá et al. 149). Additionally, some individuals believe in the myth that marijuana is not beneficial in any way.
In summary, the opponents of marijuana legalization should concentrate on the drug’s benefits rather than focusing on its disadvantages. Other than its medicinal value, marijuana legalization will be advantageous to households and the government. The reason is that it will add billions of dollars to the economy, free up scarce police resources, boost tourism, provide approved medications by the FDA, and create employment. Additionally, legalization will lower crime rates and free up prisons and jails where marijuana users are held. The taxes and revenues collected by businesses using marijuana will benefit the government, enabling it to help the less fortunate people. However, it is essential to sensitize individuals about the adverse effects of marijuana overdose, therefore, encouraging them to be observant.
Cerdá, Magdalena, et al. “Association of State Recreational Marijuana Laws with Adolescent Marijuana Use.” JAMA Pediatrics vol. 171, no. 2, 2017, pp. 142-149. Web.
Cohn, Amy M., et al. “Support for Marijuana Legalization and Predictors of Intentions to Use Marijuana More Often in Response to Legalization Among US Young Adults.” Substance Use & Misuse vol. 52, no. 2, 2017, pp. 203-213.
Ghosh, Tista S., et al. “Lessons Learned After Three Years of Legalized, Recreational Marijuana: the Colorado Experience.” Preventive Medicine vol. 104, 2017, pp. 4-6. Web.
Wu, Guangzhen, Francis D. Boateng, and Xiaodong Lang. “The Spillover Effect of Recreational Marijuana Legalization on Crime: Evidence from Neighboring States of Colorado and Washington State.” Journal of Drug Issues vol. 50, no. 4, 2020, pp. 392-409. Web.