Mt. Mercy University
The legalization of marijuana is essential to solve many of today’s major economic, health, and political issues. The United States government prohibits the use, possession, and distribution of cannabis. Today’s prison population and incarceration rates are at all time highs, having a costly effect on the US government and economy. Legalizing marijuana would not only have overwhelming medical, economical, and social benefits, but it would also be a reasonable and rational action.
With five percent of the world’s population, the United States is home to 25 percent of the world’s criminals (Webb, 2009). Prisons are loaded with drug offenders. Since 1984, the number of inmates serving time for drug offenses has risen drastically from 10 percent to over 33 percent (Webb, 2009). In 2009, over 800,000 people were arrested on marijuana charges (U.S. Department of, 2009). This number accounts for 51.6 percent of the arrests made on drug abuse violations in the United States (U.S. Department of, 2009). Too many tax-paying, family-supporting individuals are being jailed and treated as criminals for a non-violent, victimless crime. Marijuana has been legalized for medical use in 15 states and Washington D.C. Today, nearly 44 percent of American citizens admittedly support the legalization of marijuana. This number has risen steadily from 25 percent in the 1970’s (Saad, 2009). Increased support for legalization is the result of increasing knowledge of the substance and its effects. Marijuana’s medical benefits are tremendous in number and effect. THC, the common and desired ingredient in marijuana, has multiple purposes, such as: reducing nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy, increasing appetite in AIDS and cachexia victims, reducing intra ocular pressure for glaucoma patients, antipasticity treatment for patients with neurological and movement disorders, and relieving general pain of all kinds (Kalant, 2001). A simple cost-benefit analysis would reveal a staggering imbalance. The U.S. government spends over $15 billion per year on the war on drugs. Including the state and local levels, over $48 billion is spent every year, in total, on the war on drugs (Miron, 2010). An estimated $13.7 billion would be saved if the prohibition on marijuana were