Marijuana has been used all over the world, by people from many different backgrounds and cultures and is dated back as far as 2737 B.C. It wasn't until 1937 that marijuana became illegal in the United States. As of 2012 fifty-six percent of Americans think marijuana should be legalized and regulated like alcohol and tobacco, according to a nationwide Rasmussen Poll. Today there are seventeen states that have legalized the use of medicinal marijuana, and two states that have legalized it for recreational use as well. However, in a world where millions of people die each year from alcohol and tobacco use, do we really need another legal drug? Many would argue no, but when scientific studies have shown that marijuana is actually less harmful to a person than alcohol or tobacco, it makes no sense to keep it illegal.
Marijuana prohibition is simply doing more harm than good to society. Abraham Lincoln once said “A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our Government was founded.” In the 1920s, alcohol prohibition led to the widespread proliferation of violent criminal organizations that corrupted politicians and law enforcement officials to illegally peddle booze to otherwise law-abiding citizens. Similarly, by keeping marijuana illegal for the last seventy-five years, we have created a black market that helps fuel some of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the world. Legalizing marijuana would take the marijuana business out of the hands of drug cartels, by regulating and taxing marijuana in a similar manner to alcohol. It would allow adults twenty-one and older to possess a limited amount of marijuana and to purchase it at stores licensed by the state.
Many parents worry that if marijuana was made legal and regulated like alcohol, it would be easier for their kid to obtain. Colorado, where marijuana is legal for recreational use, has proved this theory to be false. Teen marijuana use in Colorado has declined while national use has gone up during the same period. This decline is most likely due to the fact that the drug is now being regulated and only sold to adults twenty-one and older. This has taken it off the streets and away from drug dealers who do not care how young the buyer is. Government funded studies show that over 50% of high school students will experiment with marijuana. If your child is likely to experiment with marijuana then shouldn't we consider ways to make it more difficult for kids to obtain it? If kids had to go to a state-sanctioned store and show an ID, just as with buying alcohol or tobacco, it could make it more difficult than going down to the corner or to the rough section of town to buy some marijuana. Sure, some underage kids still manage to obtain alcohol or tobacco, but it's not that easy for most. They probably can't text their friendly corner moonshiner, unlike their corner drug dealer who, if marijuana was regulated and sold legally, would be out of the marijuana business. This is a common sense approach to limit easy access to marijuana by underage kids.
As far as the health effects of marijuana use are concerned, most people are misinformed about the dangers of marijuana. Relatively speaking, marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. It has even been proven to be less addicting and habit forming than nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol – all of which are legal to purchase in the United States. In 2006, alcohol contributed to 85,000 deaths in the United States. In 2000 alone, tobacco contributed to a staggering 435,000 deaths! In the entire history of mankind, marijuana has never been recorded as a cause of death. No one in recorded history has died from the consumption of cannabis. However, marijuana has been linked to short term memory damage and to a slightly reduced lung capacity when regularly inhaled. Marijuana does also impair judgment and motor skills, although nowhere near as severely as alcohol. As is the same