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Legalize Marijuana

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Nick Locker

English 101

December 2, 2003

Legalize Marijuana

After 30 years of marijuana use being subject to such harsh penalties and unreasonable consequences, the world has not yet to agree on the truth about marijuana. I feel that it is a very controversial issue in this day and age with very strong and supportive arguments on both sides of this issue. The issue has caused a lot of political feuds, and it also has increased conflicts between many state governments and the federal governments. I feel marijuana is here to stay, and it is about time the government learns that also. It is one of America's largest imports, it is extremely valuable (for example, an ounce of marijuana is worth more than an ounce of gold), but of course, it is highly illegal. In this paper, I will try to teach you why marijuana should be legal. My first reason is that I feel that the punishment of just having possession of marijuana is way too strict and feel it should be lowered. My second point is that some people think that marijuana is extremely harmful but it is not that harmful. Finally, Marijuana has important benefits that are they helpful.

In researching this topic, I was able to find the statistics and information to support my argument through NORML (National Organization for Reforming Marijuana Laws). NORML is an organization based in Washington D.C. that works to protect the rights of people who use marijuana for medicinal purposes. I found that more than 700,000 Americans were arrested just for possession of marijuana last year, far more than the total number of arrests for all violent crimes combined. In the last 10 years, there have been more than 5 million arrests for possession of marijuana. These laws are absurd, irrational and also out of date. I feel that these laws are putting the innocent people in jail beds rather than the true criminals. The current laws are affecting those who do not use marijuana. As NORML says, it costs ten billion dollars each year to enforce the prohibition of marijuana. That is money that we could be spending on education or ten billion dollars that could help our nation's debt.

The controversy regarding marijuana laws has caused many problems between some states and the federal governments. As stated by NORML the federal government has sent F.B.I. and A.T.F. agents into states to enforce federal laws, completely over looking the already implicated state laws. In Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Oregon attempts have been made toward the decriminalization of marijuana (NORML). In these 12 states, people can no longer go to jail for marijuana possession. These states do still penalize marijuana criminals, but they have much more rational consequences. Marijuana offenders in these 12 states receive citations for simple possession and repeat offenders are sentenced to rehabilitation with possible jail time (NORML). The rest of the country is still dealing with ridiculous laws and consequences. I don't quite understand why the federal government doesn't take time to look at other parts of the world and see how their marijuana laws are working.

As the United States Federal Government is looking for ways to deal with marijuana they look at, Canada as well as most of Western Europe is now pushing forward with the decriminalization of marijuana. In my personal experience of going to Holland, I found they took off marijuana from the banned drug list, and also Marijuana can be sold in small amounts through shops regulated by the Dutch government. As stated by NORML the rates of marijuana and drug use in Holland are now less than half what they are in the United States. Summing up all the important points, marijuana prohibition is costing taxpayers an enormous amount of money, people are being thrown in jail for just possessing of marijuana, and finally most of the world has figured out a way to enforce some reasonable marijuana restrictions and the real criminals are not being left out on the street. I feel the United States need to make space in America's overcrowded prisons for the real prisoners such as the murderers and rapists.

Marijuana is obviously not healthy for your lungs, and in no way is it beneficial to someone with a good health record. Putting any type of smoke into a person's body is not a healthy way to live. The main question in this essay is, how does marijuana compare to alcohol, tobacco or any other legal drugs? These drugs are accepted in American society and used at a very high rate. As Health Link states, 50,000 people die each year of alcohol poisoning, 400,000 deaths a year are credited to tobacco, and both alcohol and tobacco are extremely addictive substances. Health Link studies show that there is no evidence proving any type of physical addiction to marijuana, but there is a risk of psychological addiction. People who are at a higher risk to have an addiction can become psychologically addicted to marijuana. However, there is no physical withdrawal when marijuana use is stopped (NORML). No one can say that about tobacco, alcohol or even caffeine. As you most likely know, tobacco, alcohol and caffeine are all legal drugs. All of these drug can cause a person to become addicted to them.

Marijuana is in no way a gateway drug. The only way that marijuana use can lead into the use of harder drugs is because it is put into the



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