From early adolescence, parents across the United States lecture their children about the damaging effects of marijuana. But is it really as bad as the government has made it out to be? Yearly, alcohol causes 85,000 deaths, tobacco, 435,000, and prescription drugs kill 32,000 people. But marijuana? "A big fat zero (Select Smart, 2008)." We know the drug isn't deadly, and has been a large part of different cultures from the beginning of history, but why is it illegal for all purposes on a federal level in the United States?
For hundreds of years, marijuana was legal in the United States. However, during the Great Depression, the US Government began growing concerned about the use of marijuana due to the fear of Mexican immigrants bringing the plant into the United States, and it was sought to have encouraged risky and scandalous behavior among young people. In 1937, the film Reefer Madness was released, raising the fear of the effects of marijuana on the human body (Kopel, D. 2010). As the paranoid heightened, legislation began to pass to prohibit the possession and use of marijuana. The Boggs Act of 1952 and the Narcotics Control Act of 1956 had officially banned the possession and selling of marijuana; punishable by a jail sentence of two to ten years and a $20,000 fine (Busted - Marijuana Timeline, n.d.).
Over the years, views on the usage of marijuana fluctuated with changes in presidente and changes in political parties. After Kennedy was elected in the 1960s, the counter culture had begun as more research developed that marijuana did not actually have any negative effects on
￼violence, nor did it have links to addictions to other drugs. Marijuana restrictions had loosened, but not for long. The Drug Enforcement Agency was formed in 1973, and when President Reagan was elected in 1986, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was placed along with stricter drug policies, once again, including marijuana (Busted - Marijuana Timeline, n.d.). In 1996, the state of California broke the precedent of criminalizing marijuana by allowing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Since the late '90s to 2013, 20 more states put marijuana to use in a medical prospect (20 Legal Medical Marijuana States and DC, n.d.).
Even bigger in media is the recent legalization of recreational and medical marijuana in the states of Washington, Oregon, and Colorado on a state level only. On January 1, 2014, Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use to those over the age of 21 (Chokshi, 2014). Within one week of the legalization of cannabis, the state of Colorado generated an astounding five billion dollars, and having a projected income of seventy million dollars in tax revenue for Colorado (Ferner, 2014). Not long after, on January 4, 2014, governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo, had released his plans to legalize medical marijuana for those suffering with cancer, AIDs, and other debilitating diseases (Spector, 2014).
Noticeably, democratic states are the states that have legalized marijuana, whether for recreation or medically. Democrats genuinely support the legalization, an astounding 72% are in favor of legalizing marijuana on a medical level, and 54% recreationally (Democrats Look To End Federal Intervention of Medical Marijuana, 2010). Democrats support medical marijuana because studies have shown that marijuana is not physically addicting, has little side effects, and
￼breaks other debilitating addictions. "Marijuana, which is widely available even out with a medical card, has replaced alcohol for many as a their substance of choice." Says Kane. Studies have shown that the replace of alcohol with marijuana has lowered the drug related deaths in the state of California, as well as generate $1.7 million dollars in state taxes. Democrats support the tax generation to rebuild the economy. Kane also says that "research shows that driving while stoned is less