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Argument in Favor of Marijuana Legalization

The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 started the prohibition of marijuana in America. At the time many tabloids ran untrue stories of Immigrants committing violent crimes while intoxicated with marijuana, so Congress decided to start the prohibition of marijuana. This was a huge blow to many Americans since marijuana was and still is the third most popular recreational drug behind nicotine and alcohol. Also, marijuana was a huge cash crop, so many farmers lost a lot of money by the prohibition. However, the direct consequence has been the massive amount of marijuana users arrested, which causes prison overcrowding. According to government surveys, over 70 million people in America have smoked marijuana, and a marijuana user gets arrested every 45 seconds. With numbers like these, it’s no surprise the prison systems can’t handle the huge influx of nonviolent marijuana smokers due to the war on drugs. There has been a 60% increase in marijuana arrests since Clinton started the war on drugs and over 10,000,000 Americans have been incarcerated for marijuana usage since 1972.

The war on drugs also targets minorities unfairly, Blacks and Hispanics make up only 20% of marijuana users, but they are 58% of the arrested users. This has caused a lot of criticism and accusations of racism which tarnish the reputation of law enforcement officers everywhere. Marijuana users receive ridiculously long sentences, for example in Oregon a person who sold a one-half gram of marijuana would receive up to 20 years in prison and a $300,000 fine, which is a lot more than many violent criminals would receive. Prisons can only hold a certain amount of prisoners at once and are now severely overcrowded. To make room for the rapid increase in marijuana users incarcerated many prisons are releasing violent criminals early. People often approve of sending drug users to prison, to get them off the streets but they don’t realize that violent criminals are put out on the streets instead. Fighting marijuana use costs the government $7.5 billion a year, that is money that could be spent on education or public housing.

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Prohibition of marijuana like with alcohol has only led to more crime and excessive government spending with no results. The government should take the same approach they do with tobacco and make it illegal for minors and focus on education and propaganda to make it less appealing. In Holland marijuana is legal, and they have much lower rates of hard drug usage. They were having trouble dealing with drug use with longer prison sentences and harsher penalties so instead, they elected to deal with drug abuse. By legalizing marijuana and focusing on drugs with serious health dangers they managed to severely lower the usage of hard drugs. They wanted to be sure the harm caused to the person by a prison sentence was not greater than the harm from the drug. In Holland cannabis is sold in coffee shops under 5 strict considerations, they are not allowed to: advertise, sell to minors, sell hard drugs, sell more than 30 grams, and they much control any disturbances near their store .

Under these rules, the government has not only saved a lot of money by eliminating their war against marijuana, but they gain tax revenue and have much less drug abuse than ever before. I think the United States should adopt a policy like Holland since theirs has had so much success. Since marijuana is no worse for you than alcohol or tobacco, it should be treated the same, instead of being lumped together with potent drugs such as heroin. This will not only cut back on overcrowded prisons but also allow the government to focus on real problems. Marijuana also has proven medicinal qualities but is not even legal with a prescription even though many more dangerous narcotics like morphine are.

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Argument in Favor of Marijuana Legalization. (2021, Mar 25). Retrieved April 17, 2021, from