Marijuana should be legalized in the United States. In most vivid terms, this means that the cannabis plant should be decriminalized on a federal level, abolishing all laws prohibiting its possession and use. There are quite a few values associated with this idea. One such value is liberty. Liberty by definition is the freedom to act as one pleases without being stopped by unnecessary force. Liberty is obviously deeply rooted in with marijuana legalization as in its illegal state, people do not have the liberty to consume it without being classified as criminals.
Marijuana is a natural substance which has subsisted for millennia. The plant has been in existence and used since roughly 7,000 B.C. During its time it has been used in a variety of ways other than its most well-known use as a recreational psychoactive drug. Some of its many uses over history include being a food source, a material used in the making of clothing, paint, paper, and building materials. In the words of the late comedian Bill Hicks “Why is marijuana against the law? It grows naturally upon our planet. Doesn’t the idea of making nature against the law seem to you a bit unnatural?” This is a very good point, as considering that marijuana is a natural plant which has been in use for thousands of years, how is it that a government can have jurisdiction over it?
There has been a great deal of scientific research done on marijuana’s health affects, most of which has shown marijuana to be a relatively harmless substance. In example, based on investigation done over a thirty year span, editors of the British medical journal Lancet concluded that “The smoking of cannabis, even the long term, is not harmful to health.” While it is true that marijuana does contain a large number of irritants and carcinogens (much like tobacco smoke), users tend to smoke a lot less of the substance than users of tobacco. This causes the user to over time inhale a subordinate amount of smoke to tobacco. Because of this the effect marijuana smoke has on its inhaler’s lungs is minimally damaging at most. Also, while there are multiple physiological effects from cannabis use, nearly all effects last only during the short term.
Another reason marijuana should be legalized is that a great deal of money is spent every year by the federal government in order to fund the law enforcement for fighting marijuana law violators. If marijuana were legalized, billions spent could be put somewhere else. According to Harvard professor Jerry Miron, “If the United States legalized marijuana, the country would save $7.7 billion in law enforcement costs and could generated as much as $6.2 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like alcohol or tobacco.” Considering the economy being in the state it’s in, now would be an excellent time to legalize marijuana.
A solid reason marijuana should be legalized is that the laws prohibiting it hurt the public more than they help. One way in which the public is hurt by marijuana laws is that due to that because cannabis is illicit, it is sold underground primarily by dangerous criminal organizations. This is backed up by Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project who said, “Our nation’s laws guarantee that 100 percent of the proceeds from marijuana sales go to unregulated criminals rather than to legitimate businesses that pay taxes to support schools, police and roads.” Kampia’s statement shows the irony of the situation. Although the government works hard and spends lots of money keeping the marijuana laws in check, by doing so it only put money into the pockets of dangerous gangs.
Marijuana should be legalized in the United States due to the fact that it grows naturally upon the Earth, is beneficial to the user in many ways, and is no more than a hindrance in its illicit state. With billions of dollars being spent keeping marijuana laws from being violated, it is not difficult to see that the government’s effort is nothing but a rat race of sorts. In the immortal words of reggae musician Bob Marley, “Herb is a plant” this being true, marijuana should be treated as such by being legalized.