It’s Time to Legalize It

Lauren Williams, Staff Writer

A battle has been raging in America for almost 45 years: A war against drugs, started by President Nixon in 1971, who thought of drugs as “Public enemy number one.”

This battle costs the U.S. an average of 50 billion dollars a year, according to the Drug Policy Alliance.

It is a war that needs to end.  The first step in this draw down is the legalization of recreational marijuana use.

According to The Economist, the state of California is facing a budget deficit of 28 billion dollars.

Legalizing marijuana would increase the tax revenue our state desperately needs.

Take an example from Colorado, a state that has recently legalized marijuana: In just 1 week of sales, 37 Colorado marijuana distributors collected more than 5 million dollars which provided revenue to the state government, a New York Times article reported.

California needs to get on board.

Prohibiting marijuana has not stopped people from purchasing, selling, or consuming it. In 2012 alone, there were 749,825 arrests associated with marijuana law violations nationwide, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. BBC News reported that since 2007 there have been over 50,000 deaths linked to this criminal trade. The legalization of marijuana would reduce this violence and reduce populations in over crowded prisons.

According to The San Jose Mercury News, California jails are overcrowded. This could be resolved with Marajuana legalization because fewer people would go to prison for marijuana related crimes. Law enforcement in California could turn their focus to more serious offenses such as murder and rape.

Educating the public about responsible use of marijuana should be handled in a similar manner as alcohol and tobacco. There should be a national campaign that would raise awareness about the health effects.

Marijuana contains no nicotine, the addictive chemical in tobacco products. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, marijuana also contains THC, a bronchial dilator that opens up the lungs, unlike nicotine that causes the lungs to bunch up.

The medicinal benefits of marijuana are well documented.

If marijuana is legalized, users should be required to follow the same regulations as tobacco smokers face, limiting “second hand” exposure.

The benefits of legalizing marijuana far out way the supposed dangers.  Federal and state legislatures should take the opportunity to take this off their long list of issues for which their stance makes them hypocrites.