I can not think of anyone who would stand up and say drugs are good. Although all of them do not have be illegal. A person should have the right to choose what he or she wants to do in the privacy of his or her own home as long as it does not directly harm anyone else. I believe Marijuana should be legalized because it has been proven to be less harmful than alcohol and tobacco. It has many medical and industrial uses. The crime rate would drastically reduce which would lead to more prison space and fewer taxes.
Alcohol is one of the most commonly used drugs our society has. It is also one of the most dangerous drugs we have. Alcohol is thought to kill over 30,000 people a year, directly, either by poisoning or liver damage. It is also the leading factor in fatal car accidents (Marshall 61-62). Marijuana on the other hand has never killed anyone directly or indirectly. In fact a study done this year shows that drivers under the influence of marijuana are less likely to be involved in car accidents. Dr. Jason White states Marijuana smokers are more cautious, less likely to take risks, and drive slower. The amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) needed to kill a person is 40,000 times the amount needed to get high. Although alcohol could be as low as 4 times the needed amount to get a buzz (Seaburn). Some how marijuana remains illegal and alcohol is perfectly legal.
Tobacco is another legal drug that has been proven to be more harmful than marijuana. It too has remained perfectly legal. It has been said that one joint is equal to 4 cigarettes, and this is true. However, most people that I know who smoke marijuana use about 1 or 2 joints a day. Whereas the cigarette smokers I know smoke about 1 and + to 2 packs a day. A person would have to smoke 10 joints a day to equal 2 packs of cigarettes. Marijuana is also said to be held in 4 times as long as cigarette smoke (Seaburn). If marijuana had a filter placed on them and was smoked the same as a cigarette, there would be little difference in the two.
Legalizing Marijuana would also help the farming community. The U.S. altogether has been importing about $100 million per year in hemp products (Latimer). The industrial uses range from paper to energy. Until early this century, marijuana had been cultivated in the U.S. as a source of hemp (Traub). Paper, rope, and clothing are just a few products that can be made from industrial marijuana. The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.
All the evidence shows that cannabis helps to ease the suffering of people with AIDS (Wishnia). Marijuana has also been proven to improve the condition of some Cancer and Glaucoma patients. Numerous doctors and nurses organizations have approved more testing of medical marijuana. It seems congress knows more than the doctors do about medicine because they have denied the testing of medical marijuana yet again. Why should a willing person be denied the right to smoke marijuana? Especially if they feel and the doctors prove it is curing their disease or at least easing the pain.
Of the 71% of prisoners convicted on drug charges 60% are simple possession charges. This means more than half of the prisoners in this country are incarcerated using drugs, not selling them. This might be the reason that the U.S. has the largest prison system on the planet (Currie). In fact the average first time simple possession offender receives a longer sentence than a first time rapist. This is due in part to the minimum sentence laws set for drug offenders and the early release programs for other prisoners due to overcrowding.
I think the first amendment of the constitution is enough of a reason to legalize marijuana. Freedom of choice does not mean the government has the freedom to choose and the citizens do not. Marijuana has been proven to be less harmful than many other legal drugs. It has also been proven to have many medical and industrial uses. Personally, I would rather have my tax money spent on the homeless or some other worthwhile cause instead of worrying about some guy smoking a joint at the ballpark. The government has probably not found a way to make money off of marijuana if it were legalized. It is so easy to grow that most people would raise enough pot for themselves and would not go to the store for it. I feel this is what the government is afraid of. With all of the evidence available to show why marijuana should be legalized, I cannot think of any other reason.
Thesis: I believe marijuana should be legalized because it has been proven
to be less harmful than smoking and drinking. It has many medical
and industrial uses. The crime rate would more then likely be
reduced as well.
I. Less Harmful
A. No deaths
B. Not addictive
II. Industrial Uses
III. Medical Use
IV. Less Crime
B. Prison space
Metropolitan Books, 1998.
Latimer, Dean. Canada Hemp Harvest Kills Weeds And DEA Lies.
HIGH TIMES Jan. 1998: 23.
Henry Holt Company Inc., 1994.
Seaburn, Sam. Chemical Substances And Their Effects. Online:
Traub, James. The Billion Dollar Connection. New York: Simon &
Wishnia, Steven. Oakland Authorizes CBC To Provide Medical Pot.
HIGH TIMES Dec. 1998: 24.