Essay: Legalization of Marijuana

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¶ … Legalization of Marijuana

Within the last several years, a raging debate over whether to legalize marijuana has grabbed major headlines across the country, ranging from New England to California and the Midwest to the Deep South. Generally, this debate has not been based on morality or ethics, for it tends to focus on whether the legalization of marijuana would be beneficial or detrimental to American society and its citizens. As a result, there are now a number of state-based initiatives and laws aimed at either decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana and hemp, its main component, and not surprisingly, there are some very vocal opponents to these initiatives and laws, especially the paper, lumber and petroleum industries which would face near collapse if hemp was made legal in the United States.

Historically, marijuana has been illegal since 1937 when the U.S. Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act which "banned casual consumption. . . And limited its use to specific medical and industrial purposes." Some ten years later, the Boggs Act which increased the penalties for using marijuana and the Narcotics Control Act ("Ban the Bull, 2009, Internet) made marijuana a federally-controlled substance, much like alcohol and tobacco. And since this time, marijuana, much like alcohol during the 1920's and early 1930's, has faced a long drawn-out prohibition against its use and consumption in the U.S. However, there is now a growing movement in the U.S. To legalize hemp and to decriminalize/legalize the personal use of marijuana. In this respect, should marijuana be legalized under specific conditions or should it be fully legalized for personal use and as a product for sale to legal U.S. adults?

To begin with, there are currently a number of state-based initiatives to either decriminalize or legalize marijuana. Some of these initiative come with certain restrictions, while other have no restrictions whatsoever. At this point, it should be mentioned that marijuana is not fully legal in any U.S. state, not even in those states with laws allowing the use of medical marijuana for a whole range of illnesses, such as California and mostly recently Michigan. Also, even if marijuana was to be legalized by either a state referendum of the people or by individual state governments in all 50 states, it would still be illegal under federal law.

Several of these initiatives include what is known as "the lowest law enforcement priority" which makes marijuana offenses by a legal adult "the lowest police priority" and helps to "free up police resources to focus on violent and serious crime, instead of arresting and jailing non-violent cannabis users" ("Lowest Law Enforcement Priority," 2006, Internet). As of 2007, four U.S. states have been at the front of this type of initiative, being Washington, California, Montana and Arkansas, where the citizens have voted to allow this lowest police priority to become the law.

According to Paul Armentano of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), these type of initiatives "tap into the sentiments of local voters" and have yielded some success, especially in the city of Seattle, where "their law has some teeth and has yielded a drastic reduction in local arrests" ("Lowest Law Enforcement Priority," 2006, Internet). Obviously, due to the success of these and similar state and city-based initiatives, the viewpoint of making marijuana a low police priority indicates that voters may not be too far away from either decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana on a state-wide basis.

Of course, there are individuals and organizations that continue to be… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Legalization of Marijuana.  (2009, July 22).  Retrieved September 21, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Legalization of Marijuana."  22 July 2009.  Web.  21 September 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Legalization of Marijuana."  July 22, 2009.  Accessed September 21, 2019.