The legalization of marijuana in the United States is a controversial issue. Most people tend to have a definite opinion as to whether states, or even the federal government, should legalize the drug. Many people have good reason to believe we should continue along the path of legalization, and here are a few reasons why.
Fewer arrests for nonviolent crimes.
Fewer people in prison for nonviolent crimes
- According to the ACLU, there were 8.2 million arrests between 2001-2010 that were related to weed
- Possession accounted for 88% of these arrests
- The data also revealed “significant racial bias,” with black people being 3.73 times “more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana.” In some states, this statistic rises to be 7.5 or even 8.5 times more likely.
- $3,613,969,972 is spent by states every year to enforce weed-related legislation
8.2 million arrests. That means paperwork had to be done for 8.2 million arrests, time had to be spent on all of these incidents, money was spent on lawyers, and people were taken away from their lives to serve on juries. Imagine if these 8.2 million marijuana-related arrests did not occur. Imagine how police resources could have been better focused. All of this time, money, and energy could have been channeled toward arresting violent and dangerous criminals: rapists, kidnappers, armed robbers.
Additionally, even if all of these people did not receive prison time, a large amount of money is spent to keep these people in prison for nonviolent crimes. In New York City, the average cost of a single prisoner per year is $167,731. Say half of those arrested for marijuana infractions were sentenced to at least one year in prison. Using the NYC cost of a prisoner, this equates to $687,697,100,000 spent in just one year for these people to be in prison – again, for a nonviolent crime. Imagine if we spent this much less on prisons every year. This money could be channeled towards something that actually benefits the majority of citizens, such as improving infrastructure. Or, maybe, some of it could be used for prison reform. Prisons could become more like those in other countries, where prisoners are taught life skills and are rehabilitated, so that they don’t wind up back in a prison when they are finally released. There are so many ways that money could benefit the country, and keeping people in prison for marijuana is not one of them.
Most commonly, marijuana has a relaxing effect on users. It doesn’t hype people up the same way other substances do, such as alcohol. Many have heard, seen, or been a part of drunken fights, but violence induced by marijuana is a very rare occurrence. When it does occur, it is because of some type of fear or paranoia that causes a sudden rush. Apart from this, there has been no direct causation established between marijuana use and violence.
Knowing what you buy
If it is sold from a legitimate dispensary, there’s less of a chance of it being laced with something dangerous, such as harder drugs. Lacing is a technique that can be used by dealers to get weed-smokers addicted to harder drugs without them even knowing. This is clearly dangerous, and is something that can be controlled better by legalizing weed and selling it from a dispensary.
Just like everything else that is sold, there would have to be labels indicating what strain it is, maybe what the common side effects of using that strain are, the %THC, and other information that will make it safer to buy from a dispensary than on the streets.
Weed also is not a drug from which one can overdose. There are no recorded deaths from a marijuana overdose. According to the National Cancer Institute, it isn’t even possible to overdose on weed because marijuana affects pathways in the boy called “cannaboid receptors,” which do not affect breathing. Therefore, no matter how much one ingests, marijuana cannot cause someone to stop breathing.
Other statistics show that someone would have to ingest about 40,000 times the amount of marijuana that is typically consumed in order to die. While one can take too much of it, overdosing is not a possibility.
In addition to these, there are many other reasons behind legalizing weed. This includes the fact that weed can be taxed if it is legally sold, and the tax revenue can be used to help communities. For example, the money collected from taxing weed can be used to improve schools – new textbooks, new computers, fixing health concerns in the school, and many other issues can be addressed if schools had more money; this is one way to find more money for schools. There are also medicinal purposes behind using marijuana, such as a sleep-aid, an anxiety relief substance, and it even has uses in treating more serious conditions, such as Crohn’s disease.