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Michaela marijuana as a Class I drug

Michaela Gibbs

Mrs. Lohlein

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Honors American Literature

11 December 2017

Why Marijuana Should Be
Legalized

            Popular belief may be that marijuana is a
drug that the government has been fighting for the past 30 years when in fact,
the criminalization of marijuana began in the early 1900s with California. Only
recently, in 1999 did the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classify marijuana
as a Class I drug along with heroin, LSD, and MDMA. They
keep marijuana illegal, because they consider it a “gateway” drug.
Marijuana isn’t harmful to people if used in moderation like most everything
else, but if you classify it with harmful substances like heroin and meth,
people might be mistaken and believe that because marijuana has benefits, that
perhaps heroin, meth, cocaine, and other drugs do too. Marijuana should not be
linked with these other drugs. Recreational marijuana should be legalized because in present-day
America the budget for drug task forces and the incarceration rate for crimes
involving marijuana in states where it has yet to be legalized is above global
average.

            The amount of money and energy spent on
police drug units would be significantly reduced if marijuana was legalized.
States in the U.S. and foreign countries have shown that once legalization
occurred the budget for task-forces and money used for drug prevention can now
be more expendable to departments like education and healthcare. $750 million
was spent on marijuana in the first half of the year in Colorado alone. The
state has made nearly $160 million in tax revenue and licensing due to cumulative
sales made through June. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse
said in a written statement published by CNN “States
spend more on substance abuse and addiction than they spend on Medicaid, higher
education, transportation or justice.” California, where $14 billion is
collected annually, it is guessed that after legalizing marijuana somewhere
from 1.5 to 4 billion dollars can be collected by tax. Showing that not only
will the budget cuts benefit other departments, it will also accumulate tax
revenue which can be used to benefit the state by improved infrastructure. We all know more money equals
less problems. But, some may say there is not enough being done to
prevent marijuana from being sold on the streets, that more money and legal
effort should be spent. Because almost 96% of the billions spent by federal and
state governments is spent on cleaning up the mess left by substance abuse, and
only about 2% is spent on preventing the spread.

            Keeping our communities out of prisons for
charges involving the possession, cultivation, and distribution of marijuana is
vital. After legalization marijuana arrests in Colorado declined by nearly half
from 2012 to 2014. “The
total number of marijuana arrests decreased by 46% between 2012 and 2014, from
12,894 to 7,004” (Reed 5). In Washington State the possession charges
dropped 98% from 2012 to 2013. The State’s court data also shows that “filings
for low level marijuana offenses have precipitously decreased from 2000 to 2013”
(Court Filings for Adult Marijuana Possession Plummet). The legalization of
marijuana will result in less arrests involving people who smoke, grow and or
sell. Civil rights organizations have deduced in a given year, marijuana arrests
made by police in America are more than all violent crimes combined.  This is a cookie cutter example of why Portugal
decriminalized small amounts of psychoactive substances in 2001. The nation was
concerned with the over-criminalization of drugs, part of which included marijuana.

            “What about our children?”
you may ask. You may say
legalization will ruin our kids. Statistics taken from Colorado and
Washington surveys show no change in teenagers’ usage of marijuana since
legislation passed. People who disagree with legalization often cite one federal
survey that depicts Colorado as the top state for teen marijuana use, yet professionals say that this inclination
was in place before legalization occurred. So, passing legislation will
do little to affect our youth because the teens using marijuana already have a
source to buy it from. Those
who are against legalization probably will not smoke once it is legal. And
those who are for legalization most likely already smoke it illegally.

Marijuana benefits the
economy and the public with decreased arrest rates and entire revenues coming
from taxes. Legalization could lead to the possible end of the War on Drugs. Revenue
spent on that will no longer need be and can be used for other purposes. Not
only will it benefit citizens economically it will also benefit certain people
medically. No longer will our family members be marred by the scar of their
marijuana charges that, even now, affect their opportunities for jobs, housing,
and a place in society. They can finally enjoy and sell a plant that grows naturally
on earth in the first place. Criminalizing a natural plant and keeping man made
alcohol legal is doing more harm than good. So, let’s turn that situation
around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Cited

“Court
Filings for Adult Marijuana Possession Plummet.” ACLU of Washington, 14
July

2017,
aclu-wa.org/news/court-filings-adult-marijuana-possession-plummet.

 

United
States, Congress, Research and Statistics, and Jack K. Reed. “Marijuana                                               

Legalization
in Colorado, Early Findings: a Report Pursuant to Senate Bill 13-283.” Marijuana
Legalization in Colorado, Early Findings: a Report Pursuant to Senate Bill
13-283

 

 

 

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