Essay about Marijuana Legalization in the US

Submitted By rbarai
Words: 1205
Pages: 5

SOC 1003
Assignment 1

The debate revolving around marijuana laws in the US began in the 1970s, but it is currently reaching levels higher than ever before. Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, one that is believed to have a high potential for abuse and no medical use. This classification is hotly debated and for a variety of reasons. There is a benefit both economically and socially to legalize marijuana a so-called “Schedule I drug”. Three sources will be used to illustrate the topic of marijuana legalization: An academic article, Leagalizing Marijuana Would Save Money and Generate Tax Revenue by Jeffrey Miron, A policy article from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Marijuana Decriminalization & Its Impact on Use, and lastly a law review article from the University of Connecticut, The Need for Change: An Economic Analysis of Marijuana Policy. The information from these works will provide a foundational base in favor for legalization of marijuana.
“Prohibition does not eliminate the market for marijuana. Instead, prohibition creates a black market” (Miron, 2012). Jeffrey Miron, a professor of economics at Harvard University, focuses on the economic aspect of legalization. Budgetary impacts are a vital component in the argument and some may argue it holds more weight than effects of marijuana as a drug. Miron simply argues, “If marijuana were legal, enforcement costs would be zero, and governments could levy taxes on the production and sale of marijuana. Thus, government expenditure would decline and tax revenue would increase” (Miron, 2012). It is important to expand with statistics of the impact. Their will be roughly a eight billion dollar reduction in government expenditure and a up to a six billion dollar tax revenue increase if planned out correctly (Miron, 2012). The numbers are not trivial and in our current economic horizon, more savings with an increase in revenue are very attractive. The whole point of the article is to stress the fact that the prohibition is a cost rather than a benefit in its entirety. The properly regulated legalization would prove beneficial in several ways and one of which is economic. The article posted by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), a non-profit organization, discusses the impact of legalization on drug use. Fact of the matter is that people use marijuana and the prohibition did not achieve what it was originally designed to do. According to this article, “ Over 100 million Americans have used marijuana despite prohibition, and one in ten—according to current government survey data—use it regularly” (NORML, 2012). These statistics make it clear that the status quo clearly is inadequate; therefore common sense points in the direction of another way to deal with marijuana. The answer would lay in the proper regulation of marijuana. The article references several empirical sources to back their argument in favor of proper regulation and that legalization will not negatively impact the abuse. The British Journal of Psychiatry was referenced on the topic of prohibition. Available evidence suggests that, “removal of the prohibition against possession itself (decriminalization) does not increase cannabis use. ... This prohibition inflicts harms directly and is costly. Unless it can be shown that the removal of criminal penalties will increase use of other harmful drugs, ... it is difficult to see what society gains"
(NORML, 2012). If legalization will not promote more abuse then what is the problem with legalization? Prohibition is a lost cause and there are examples of systems of regulation that have proved very successful for other countries. The polices of the Netherlands have shown positive outcomes which prove attractive to duplicate. "The Dutch experience, together with those of a few other countries with more modest policy changes, provides a