Reasons to Legalize Marijuana
The criminalization of marijuana has many stories behind it. Some believe that it was made illegal in the early 20th century because it was meant to play off of anti-immigrant sentiments. Considering that Mexican immigrants introduced recreational marijuana use to the American culture. Others believe it was made illegal because it would put the tobacco industries out of business. The media had a large role in making people believe that usage caused homicidal mania. Reefer Madness was an American propaganda film, which displayed marijuana to be a terrible drug. This film gave Americans a negative view, which was exactly how the government and media had portrayed it. The criminalization of marijuana was based off of opinions and assumptions, and wasn’t researched to the fullest.
It was not until the 1920s that marijuana began to become popular in the United States. It was accepted and smoked at marijuana clubs called tea pads, which were in every major city. Marijuana was not illegal because there was no evidence of community disturbance and was not considered a social threat. America’s first marijuana law was enacted in 1619; it was a law ordering all farmers to grow Indian hempseed. (Hemp is the plant marijuana grows from.) It was not until the 1930s when the US Federal Bureau of narcotics began to portray marijuana as a powerful addicting substance. This is when the idea of marijuana being a "gateway drug" was established. The controlled substances act of 1970 classified marijuana as a schedule 1 drug. (Level 1 drug most simply means a substance that has no known medical utility and a high probability of addiction.) Nowadays we know that this is not true because of the vast medical abilities marijuana has. This then may lead us to think, what else is untrue about the government’s perception on marijuana? The United States should legalize marijuana because this would form billions of tax dollars and federal savings, it is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco, and it has great medical potential.
Marijuana is the number one most profitable cash crop, with an annual market value of $35.8 billion. This crop brings in more money than corn and wheat combined. “More than 300 economists have signed a petition which suggests that if the government legalized marijuana it would save $7.7 billion annually by not having to enforce the current prohibition on the drug. The report added that legalization would save an additional $6 billion per year if the government taxed marijuana at rates similar to alcohol and tobacco.” (Berman 1). The amount of money that could be made off of this plant is tremendous and cannot be ignored. Marijuana sales in certain states alone could bring our shaky economy out of its fragile state. “Lawful cannabis sales in the U.S. this year will total $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion, according to the Medical Marijuana Business Daily's Factbook 2013. But it projects that sales could spike to $2.5 billion to $3 billion in 2014 if retail stores open in Colorado and Washington.” (Parloff 1). This is just Colorado and Washington, if it was legalized in all 50 states, the economy would be booming. State and local governments would acquire significant new sources of tax revenue from regulating marijuana sales. It is also believed that income off marijuana will be what eventually gets California out of their debt as well.
For three decades the government has set forth marijuana eradication efforts and it is still the number one cash crop. This alone proves that our current marijuana laws are a complete failure. “The current prohibition on marijuana consumption exactly parallels the 1920s alcohol prohibition.” (Easton 1). Famous American gangster Al Capone was infamous for being the mastermind behind alcohol sales and distribution during alcohol prohibition. There is a famous quote, “once prohibition ended, Al Capone was out of business the next day”. This is a meaningful