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Legalization of Marijuana

Essay by   •  February 7, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  3,212 Words (13 Pages)  •  1,777 Views

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Legalization of Marijuana

The Valsted Act of 1919, the prohibition act, also known as the Eighteenth Amendment, prohibited the manufacture, sale, or importation of intoxicating liquors. The bill passed in Congress on December 1917. Ratified in 1919, and prohibition went in to effect on January 1, 1920. A bitter over alcohol deepened the fissures in American Society. Prohibition was a legitimate effort to address social problems associated with alcohol abuse and symbolic crusade by native-born Protestants to control immigrant cities. Prohibition of alcohols failure illustrates the difficulty in a democracy of enforcing a widely opposed law. Prohibition, unlike the "war on drugs", was underfunded and weakly enforced, especially in anti-prohibition areas. For many young people, alcohols illegality increased appeal. Rumrunners much like drug runners, smuggled liquor from Canada and the West Indies, and every city, harbored speakeasies selling alcoholic drinks. People were concocted home brew, shady entrepreneurs sold flavored industrial grade alcohol, and sacramental wine sales soared. In 1929, after only nine years of the Eighteenth Amendment being enforced alcohol consumption reached about seventy percent of pre-prohibition levels. Chicago's crime wave underscored prohibitions failure. During the prohibition time organized crime escalated to new heights. In Chicago, gangsters battled to control the liquor business, the city witnessed 550 gangland killings in the 1920s. Speakeasies controlled by Al Capone, generated annual profits of sixty million dollars. A reform designed to improve public morality was turning citizens into lawbreakers and mobsters into celebrities.

Marijuana has now become a battleground in today's culture war. Marijuana is the illustrative gap between two cultures, some see it as killer weed, a menace to health and life, and others see it as a harmless social relaxant. Marijuana, whose scientific name is Cannabis Sativa, has been mentioned manuscripts dating back to 2700 B.C., in China. The Jamestown settlers recorded the first nurturing of the plant in 1611, as they used hemp from the plants fiber to make rope, canvas, and clothing. In those days, marijuana's usage was more for survival, than any other purpose.

In America, people can go into almost any store and acquire alcohol and tobacco products. Individuals deserve the right to make choices for themselves. We as people can choose to drink alcohol, use tobacco products, or abuse prescription drugs. We do not get the choice to consume the less harmful drug marijuana. Legalizing marijuana would help economic woes in this country, along with giving individuals a safe alternative to current legal drugs, assist with cleaning up the justice system, and various medical uses.

If America lifted the prohibition of marijuana, the benefits to the economy would be enormous. In 2009, tobacco sales were 90.7 billion dollars. The federal government made about eight billion dollars in taxes off the sale of tobacco. The state and local taxes amassed sixteen billion dollars from tobacco taxes. Alcohol sales in 2009 were about 20 billion dollars, with the government making about ten million in taxes. An estimated ninety-four million people twelve and older have smoked marijuana, with twenty-five million calling themselves regular smokers. If marijuana was legalized it could be harvested for around sixteen dollars a pound. With street values ranging from sixty to four hundred dollars an ounce, depending on the quality, marijuana has the potential to make more revenue than cigarettes and alcohol combined.

California is one of ten states to allow the sale of medicinal marijuana, and marijuana is already California's biggest cash crop, responsible for 14 billion dollars a year in sales. The state's tax collectors estimate the bill would bring in about 1.3 billion dollars a year in revenue, via a 50 dollar-per-ounce levy on retail sales of marijuana, and sales tax. One economist estimated the state would also save about 1 billion dollars, per year by not arresting and imprisoning those caught with small amounts of marijuana. However, the proposed bill has met with the usual objection from anti-marijuana activists, who claim the legalization of marijuana would contribute to society's ills.

Like the rest of the United States, California is in serious economic trouble. Most recently, California's 1,000 K-12 school districts have to absorb more than 8 billion dollars in funding cuts over the next year, leading to the recent issuance of layoff notices for approximately 26,500 teachers and 15,000 bus drivers, janitors, secretaries, and administrators.

Marijuana legalization would also allow us to use hemp as a valuable agriculture crop in the United States. Hemp is actually cheaper and more effective than cotton. Hemp would be a resource in the development of bio-fuel, to reduce the carbon emissions. The United States continues to embrace and promote the development of bio-fuels as an alternative oil source. This would be important since hemp stalks would not increase the price of food, such as corn. Allowing marijuana to be legal would save thousands of acres in the forest. Hemp from marijuana can make four times more paper than a regular tree. Trees can take up to forty years before being ready to cut, marijuana can harvest within five months. Letting the forest grow would allow endangered animals to regain footing on our planet, and not become extinct. The legalization of marijuana could help save the planet and greatly simplify the regulatory burden on hemp cultivation in the United States.

Another good reasoning behind legalizing marijuana is that it would be a safer alternative to alcohol and cigarettes. Marijuana is not a lethal drug and is safer than cigarettes and alcohol. It is a scientific fact that marijuana is not as toxic to humans and overdoses are nearly impossible. Marijuana is not nearly as addictive as alcohol or tobacco. It is unfair and unjust to treat marijuana users more harshly than alcohol and tobacco users. Alcohol plays a role in two-thirds of all violent crimes and is responsible for 100,000 sexual assaults a year. An estimated 35,000 people die a year as a direct result of alcohol consumption. Alcohol also leads to organ damage and impairs people's behavior. It also gives you invisible muscles and leads to aggressive behavior. Some law enforcement officers claim they would rather deal with users of marijuana than drunks, due to the fact it rarely causes disruptive behavior.

In the United States, cigarettes kill 440,000 people a year. Many polls show no exact numbers on the number of people who start smoking a year, but most experts say in the millions. Tobacco use also cost

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