Marijuana Legalization and Its Effects on Drug War


The issue of drug endorsement and illegalization has attracted heated debate in many countries around the world. Can the side effects of some drugs such as marijuana can warrant their illegalization? Scholars of substance use and abuse are yet to agree on the answer to this question. For several years now, most countries have tirelessly fought a losing drug war that has cost them highly in terms of consuming many law enforcement resources.

Police officers have had to arrest the culprits who have caused far-reaching damages not only on their lives but also on the lives of other people and the society. Despite the high cost, the war on drugs has significantly polluted nations’ social and public health. The initial intentions of the war on drugs largely focused on the unremitting enforcement of cocaine and heroin regulations among the poor communities.

Later, in the 1980s, law enforcement agencies started shifting the focus from other drugs to marijuana. As a result, police departments across most of the nations have directed a significant part of their resources to enforce marijuana laws. While some of the nations have endorsed the use of marijuana, others have found no grounds to adopt such a move. The path to the legalization of marijuana, for instance in the United States, has been initiated by the incentives of Colorado and Washington regions that have already legalized the drug (Room 346). This paper seeks to discuss the legalization of marijuana with the view of showing how it directly affects the war on drugs.

Legalization of Marijuana

Since Californians voted in a move to legalize medical marijuana in early 1996, the federal and the state drug laws have constantly been conflicting. Such laws have strongly fought against the consumption of marijuana. Several federal officials in many states have enthusiastically exercised their powers to advocate the establishment of laws that uphold the use of the drug, claiming that individuals who fight against the drug use have no reason or evidence to give concerning why the drug is not fit for consumption.

However, these efforts have greatly had some effects on the lives of those who have been targeted by the federal prosecutors, although they have not managed to block the adoption and the implementation of the medical marijuana laws, as it is witnessed in Washington, Colorado, and California among fifteen other states (Hickenlooper 243). Most of the states that have allowed the establishment of retail medical marijuana have continually operated openly (Burnham 52). Sometimes in 2012, the conflict of war on marijuana took a different dimension with ballot measures authorizing marijuana use, especially for recreational purposes, particularly in Washington and Colorado (Anderson and Rees 221).

States have devised regulatory controls for the medical marijuana systems. In this regard, most of the countries have licensed dispensaries that prescribe it as a way of ensuring that they pay the usual taxes so that the revenue may go into fighting the culprits who use the drug for other reasons. However, other places such as Washington have failed to adopt such controls. Instead, the providers of medical marijuana within the state have become more sophisticated while insulating themselves with the state laws as a strategy to effectively remain free from the state regulations (Chandler and Young par.4).

In this region, the licensed dispensaries have found a loophole in protecting themselves from any prosecution. In many marijuana legalization opponents, the possible effects of marijuana advertising and the development of industries that decide on the usage rates have been a primary concern. The groups that have been formed to advocate the prohibition of marijuana usage mention that its intentions are to prevent another ‘big tobacco’ in the nations.

The groups urge that in case the legalized marijuana will be commercialized, the commercialized industry will act just like that of the tobacco production. While explaining their positions, agnostics of marijuana legalization such as Kleiman, Caulkins, and Hawken often mention the risk of mass marketing of the drug. In his view, marijuana has never been worth banning (3).

Some states such as Netherlands have been instructive on the point marijuana legalization. Although a perception has been held that the Dutch people have already legalized the drug, the claim has not been backed up by substantial evidence. Rather, the state has had quasi-legalized retail sales of the drug, as opposed to its commercial production and distribution. In 2012, at least twenty marijuana legalization proposals were made in ten states, including 14-citizen initiatives that ranged from permitting the usage of marijuana as a medical herb and its full authorization for commercial, processing, and distribution purposes.

The dawn of 2014 was marked by an approximate of twenty states, including Washington, which had already approved the utilization of marijuana as a curative substance. Among of these regions, a good number of them already had the state-registered laws for which the state government had acknowledged regulating and giving licenses to the dispensaries where the drugs would be availed. The US government provided very little protection against the federal prosecution based on the possession of any amount of the drug that was meant for personal usage. As Room reveals, Uruguay was the first country that legalized the usage of marijuana for both sale and distribution for residents who were above the age of eighteen (345).

The legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes in conjunction with the federal government moderation accelerated and reflected a notable trend in the endorsement process (Anderson and Rees 222). In the near future, the pressure from groups such as the National Organizations for Reforms of Marijuana Laws and the legalization of the drug in states such as Colorado and Washington might significantly influence many other states into marshal attempts that could be aimed at passing such laws (Fisher 78).

The forthcoming presidential election in the United States is anticipated to being a pivotal period for determining whether the government will legalize or ban the usage of the drug. Politicians are expected to take a firm stance on its legalization with the view of capturing the youths or even the libertarian votes. In the drug policy reforms, advocates claim that the prohibition of the drug exposes more adverse social effects such as the imprisonment of young people and more so the Blacks.

In addition, the prohibition is a form of criticism of the persistent war on the drugs. Legalization advocates of marijuana have rarely considered the possible effects of the global tobacco companies that enter the markets or even the beverage and food industries alongside their substantial capacity of engineering the marijuana cigarettes to maximize the efficacy of the drug delivery processes.

How the Legalization of Marijuana affects the War on Drugs

The legalization of marijuana has continually built a momentum in most of the states that have the license. Countries, where it has been endorsed, have moderated consequences that are linked to the ownership of the substance. For instance, they have eliminated and limited the prison time. Besides, many of them have adopted fines instead of the prison option. For medical marijuana, the states have differed a great deal in terms of their legislative laws. When Colorado engaged in the legalization of marijuana, it did not descend into conflict or chaos neither was the move viewed as a catastrophic loss in productivity (Fisher 46). Rather, it has added many dollars that have helped to boost the tariff returns.

The recreational transactions exceeded those of the medical sales. Hence, the state had successfully regulated marijuana as an alternative in the black market. On the other hand, Washington has not yet provided comparable figures, despite the fact the state rolled out the drug legalization plan recently compared to Colorado. In fact, Washington faced a shortage of the plant for retail purposes. However, no reports have been established to suggest that the legalization has any negative impacts on the state.

Endorsement of marijuana does not terminate the fight against illicit drugs (Chandler and Young par.7). Marijuana advocates are incomparable political dealers. In their view, marijuana does not induce craving on individuals who use it. Besides not being associated with any death, the drug is a solution to the problem of epilepsy (Newton 212).

Mostly, proponents of the drug authorization plan have branded the antagonists as egocentric individuals who want the drug illegalized so that they can get an opportunity to offer it secretly on the black market. On the other hand, the usage of the drug has been associated with a number of fatal car accidents since the period of legalization in a number of states, including Colorado. The proponents of the drug believe that legalization will terminate the fight against illegal drugs. However, this claim has been a naïve assertion that indicates how the proponents have failed in terms of understanding the complexities of the witnessed failure in the validation of the drug.

The endorsement of the drug will not effectively address the state plan on drugs. In this regard, drug unions will continue gaining by changing their attention from state-confirmed illicit drugs to other controversial drugs or even looking for better and new markets in which smuggling is practiced. To reform the national policy on drugs, the citizens in the state where marijuana has been allowed need to adjust their attention on the distribution of the drug. They should collaborate with influential people to develop mechanisms for engaging in talks with people who consume the drug with the view of addressing the issue of overdose and the associated effects (Kleiman, Caulkins, and Hawken 76).

On the other hand, legalization of the drug has eliminated arrests that were associated with the possession and sale of the drug. This outcome has not only led to a reduction in the prison population, but also enabled the judicial government in such states to have sufficient enforcement resources and enough time to target individuals who commit serious crimes. In addition, the legalization has caused added revenue, which has been generated from the taxation of the drug. The mentioned benefits of the ratification of the drug have had a positive impact on the war on the drugs.

Marijuana legalization antagonists have substantiated their position by demonstrating the expected increase in the use of the drug among the youths and even kids to the extent that the affected categories will not concentrate on their studies or any other familial responsibilities. The increased number of marijuana-addicted users has outlined a reason behind the continued war on the drug and its legalization. Additionally, the economic burden that the society is expected to carry after the legalization of the drug outweighs the potential revenues that might be generated (Holland and Weil 107). This reason reveals why the drug war will continue even after the legalization process.


Any state’s fight against illegal substances often stresses on apprehending individuals for consuming illicit substances such as marijuana. In the last decade, approximately 6.4million Americans were arrested on marijuana charges. This figure exceeds the cumulative number of citizens in Montana, Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Many people who faced warrants of arrest and charges were found in the possession of the drug not only for personal use but also for sale. Considerably, individuals who smoke marijuana treasure and provide for their children and other relatives. Besides paying taxes, they also work hard in an attempt to make their lives better.

When these people are arrested as criminals, they are denied the freedom to contribute to their family and countries. Instead of exposing the users in such uncomfortable conditions, they need to be encouraged to be responsible marijuana smokers. The community should devise better methods of addressing all sorts of individual demeanor that can be insulting or even detrimental to others. Indeed, the ultimate goal of every drugs procedure needs to set up new foundations to come up with measures that will terminate criminal prohibitions of marijuana. All federal prohibitions in this regard should be abolished, especially those that are against marijuana consumption.

Works Cited

Anderson, Mark, and Daniel Rees. “The Legalization of Recreational Marijuana: How Likely Is the Worst-Case Scenario?” Journal of Policy Analysis & Management 33.1(2014): 221-232. Print.

Burnham, Alex. Benefits of Legalizing Marijuana. Munich: GRIN Verlag GmbH, 2011. Print.

Chandler, Jamie, and Skyler Young. Legalizing Marijuana Won’t End the War on Drugs, 2014. Web.

Fisher, Gary. Rethinking Our War On Drugs. Westport: Praeger, 2006. Print.

Hickenlooper, Governor. “Experimenting with Pot: The State of Colorado’s Legalization of Marijuana.” Milbank Quarterly 92.2(2014): 243-249. Print.

Holland, Julie, and Andrew Weil. The Pot Book. Rochester: Park Street Press, 2010. Print.

Kleiman, Mark, Jonathan Caulkins, and Angela Hawken. Drugs And Drug Policy. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011. Print.

Newton, David. Marijuana. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2013. Print.

Room, Robin. “Legalizing a market for cannabis for pleasure: Colorado, Washington, Uruguay and beyond.” Addiction 109.3(2014): 345-351. Print.

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