Talking of marijuana so many scholars have clarified it under illegal drugs and it remains high on the lists of concerns. Marijuana was declared illegal as a drug in the United States after the Marijuana Tax Act was passed in 1937 (Peter 237 – 248). The question is has there been enough studies conducted looking into the issue? Supposedly, the answer is and what makes it even more interesting is that many of them are pointing to advantages that would emanate from Legalization and Decriminalization of marijuana in the country (Greenwald 45 – 78). Numerous studies indicate that United States is squandering a lot of money in enforcing the marijuana ban. Why use a hefty budget when there are other possible solutions that would sought out the issue? The point is, the country needs a way out to necessitate decriminalization and legalization of marijuana (Eric and Eva 176 – 204). Legalization and Decriminalization of marijuana has been in many current debates owing to the fact that so many issues arise from the argument for and against the Legalization and Decriminalization. Currently, Marijuana remains as a major concern for all fields of life including sociologists, physiologists, psychologists and numerous other disciplines in the human practice. This essay looks into the issue and details more on the severity of the problem, causes and solutions to the problem. It looks into the costs and benefits of this approach to come up with solutions on what should be the way forward. The essay takes a stand that legalizing and decriminalization of Marijuana is the solution to the many issues and upcoming problems within United States.
Severity of the problem
Americans have arisen from the deep convictions that have been brought forward that Marijuana is illegal in the country. As a result, of this declaration significant problems have arisen across the country with features of numerous stories in the news featuring people killed on the street with a link to use of Marijuana (Eric and Eva 176 – 204). Numerous states have branded marijuana as a form of an illegal drug, and a massive budget has been set aside to fight the use of marijuana. Statistics of victims killed in the man hunt of Drug users indicate that ¾ of them has been marijuana users all categorized under illegal drug users and peddlers (Peter 237 – 248). These rates of killing are going on a high everyday and marijuana users are facing a testing moment of their life with death slowing knocking yet they are guarded by the statues of the country’s population that they have a right to life.
With the policy establishment, on the illegality of marijuana United States has had to face immense challenges on this issue. The current drug policy established by the government is showing signs of failure with these laws and policies creating high levels of corruption, increased street crime, violence, and disregard for the country’s criminal justice system (Greenwald 45 – 78). The country’s current drug legislation having included Marijuana as part of the illegal drugs has failed and worsened the situation with demand of marijuana and other drugs increasing by the day. Having included marijuana in the category of illegal drugs it has undoubtedly become a significant challenge as the government is unable to monitor illegal substances. With this at bay, a huge part of the country’s population continues to use other hardcore drugs in a failed system of control.
From the latest Bureau of Justice Statistics, at least one out of seven drug prisoners are jailed for marijuana-related offenses. The jails are becoming extremely overcrowded for having illegalized marijuana and making it a criminal offense to handle marijuana across all corners of the country. NORML Executive Director, Allen once said, "Jailing thousands of marijuana users are a tremendous waste of the country’s resources and wastage of the taxpayer’s money that had been better spent on the other issue like targeting violent crime (Caulkins and Sevigny 405 - 428)" This argument is abundantly true with a look into some statistics estimating that taxpayers in United States spend almost $900 million each year in the incarceration of marijuana offenders. The amount is on a high bearing the fact that there could be other solutions to the same (Peter 237 – 248). Over 40,000 Americans are incarcerated presently in federal and correctional facilities charged with marijuana violations (McAuliffe 805 – 810). Of the total number, 28,650 marijuana offenders have been categorized as state inmates, with an estimated 10,538 being categorized under federal prisoners. With this, the overall estimation is that marijuana prisoners are roughly 14 percent of the drug inmates in federal and state prisons (Robert & Eric).
Causes of problem
The country’s judicial system has failed, and this is what is worsening the situation. Looking deeper into the issue, jailing marijuana offenders does not make sense (Greenwald 45 – 78). The system fails to come up with other solutions that would help rehabilitate or punish marijuana offenders rather than jailing them and overcrowding the prisons across the country (Eric and Eva 176 – 204).
Assumptions have been the worst cause of the many killings across United States for marijuana victims. Having made marijuana illegal and categorized the same under illegal drugs, fighting drugs in general has been hectic for the country. The question posted on this is “is a marijuana user a criminal worth being shot (McAuliffe 805 – 810)?” the problem is that the generalization of marijuana as a drug has linked the same to other illegal and criminal activities which authorities including the police have fought to the nail with no success (Peter 237 – 248). Illegal drug peddlers and other criminals have been hitting back, and exchanging shots with the police and this arouses the concern of ‘shot and kill’ a concept that includes marijuana users and includes them to the list of victims.
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Poor policies have also engulfed the problems related to marijuana. With the establishment of the marijuana ban early in 1937, one of the arguments was that it is a harmful and toxic drug. However, between then and a year to follow, not a single case of death was reported as being caused by marijuana overdose (Caulkins and Sevigny 405 - 428). Conversely, there were thousands of cases reported as deaths caused by alcohol intoxication with over 5,000 persons reported as having died that year following an overdose (Robert & Eric). Therefore, it would be reasonable to argue that policy development has been extremely poor in United States on an issue relating to marijuana use and abuse (Peter 237 – 248). Basing laws and policies on false premises of a death causing drug show the inefficiency of the system and it incompetence in handling such issues. It has brought down the efficiency of the American justice system.
Effects of the problem
The illegalization and criminalization of marijuana has denied many patients their rights especially the cancer patients who need the substance in the pain killers. It ha denied patients the right to use marijuana for medicinal use (Caulkins and Sevigny 405 - 428). Marijuana has many uses as medicine in helping to stimulate appetite as well as relieve nausea in AIDS and cancer patients (Peter 237 – 248). These patients have suffered in hospital beds with anguish and pain stressing their body all in the name of the marijuana ban. This has been total oppression of cancer patients for not being allowed to use medicinal marijuana that could alleviate all their problems.
On the same note, pharmacists are not being able to explore the use for marijuana for other medical uses, and this has challenged the state of innovation in the medical field. It has been a monumental challenge for researchers and scientists in the invention field since the marijuana ban poses as an obstacle to deriving information on the same issue (Greenwald 45 – 78).
The state of marijuana has caused a new development in the black market. Marijuana has featured in numerous black market transactions owing to the fact that people fear the law with marijuana having been framed illegal (McAuliffe 805 – 810). In this case, the government looses tax that could be redeemed in legal transactions owing to the black-market transactions. In 2009, money transacted in the black market was over $ 250,000 in a single month showing the level at which the government looses tax and revenues that would be generation from the same (McAuliffe 805 – 810). Crime rates have also been rated as increasing, resulting from the illegal transactions and activities over the black market.
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An industrial issue has also arisen from the illegalization and criminalization of marijuana. Hemp is a plant extremely valuable as a natural resource if used appropriately. However, there has been a monumental challenge and confusion has engulfed the use of hemp for industrial purposes (Peter 237 – 248). The researchers and industrialists have also not been able to take advantage of this plant for agricultural and industrial use making it an enormous challenge.
Owing to criminalization of marijuana, there have been lots of victims linked with the offense of marijuana as discussed earlier and this has resulted to over population of prisons with non violent offenders of marijuana (McAuliffe 805 – 810). The situation is growing to be serious with the government facing the challenge of control the upsurge.
People have also been denied their rights of worship and religion with the fact that there are religions which value marijuana as part of their values. Hinduisms, Buddhism and Rastafarianism, are just part of the protestors feeling that they have denied some fundamental substance that is included as part of their religious ceremonies (Eric and Eva 176 – 204). These people have the right to freedom of practicing any religion and, therefore, it is a tremendous challenge to the country’s constitutional practice.
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Solutions to the problem
In finding solutions to all these issues arguably, negative effects associated to marijuana would be reduced if United States practiced Legalization and Decriminalization of marijuana. The country needs to adopt a policy that would totally decriminalize marijuana. Such policies as the adoption of Proposition 19 are what the government ought to be working on (Caulkins and Sevigny 405 - 428). The policy is known as excellent in regulating and controlling marijuana use with the establishment of the Tax Cannabis Act of 2010. The practice was initiated in California with a ballot proposition planned to take place in November 2, 2010 statewide. This would legalize marijuana-related activities, therefore, making it easy for the local government to be able to regulate the activities and give the local governments permission to collect and impose marijuana-related taxes and fees (Room, Fischer, Hall and Reuter 127 – 163). It would bring to an end the jailing of marijuana offenders and reduce the overcrowding in prisons with the authority having the power to instill alternative civil and criminal penalties of such offenses.
Allen St. Pierre, the assistant Director of the NORML argued that legalization and decriminalizing marijuana was the perfect way forward as it would wipe out the estimated 60-billion dollar black market transactions done every year across the country (Eric and Eva 176 – 204). This is because the practice would help place marijuana in an open market where it would be subject to regulation and laws and proper controls and standards of transactions established over the same (Room, Fischer, Hall and Reuter 127 – 163). When marijuana is legalized, chances are that taxation of the same by the federal government would be necessitated and regulations imposed preventing the loss of revenues and taxes in the black market (Eric and Eva 176 – 204). In fact, even the growers of marijuana would be subject to agricultural laws as stipulated in each state across United States rather than wasting the tax payer’s money on unproductive war against marijuana.
Therefore, we can easily some up the discussion by arguing that it is more advantageous to decriminalize and legalize Marijuana. Light issues like the heavy killings of marijuana victims, and overcrowding in the country’s prisons with so many jailed people serving terms of petty crimes like marijuana position make the argument even stronger. It is an approach that the country has to take in the planning of the future progress in handling all issues related to Marijuana and its criminality and legality.
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