Legalizing Marijuana Would Have on Prison Population Research Proposal

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¶ … Legalizing Marijuana would have on Prison Population

The recent war on drugs campaigns have had limited to no efficiency, as one can actually claim that society has experienced great problems as a result of the techniques authorities used in trying to fight drugs. There has been much controversy regarding the topic of legalizing marijuana during the last few years, as there are both passionate supporters and ardent oppressors to this particular act. Although one might find it difficult to determine the exact benefits coming along with decriminalizing marijuana, it is very probable that the number of prison inmates would no longer be affected as a result of relatively innocent individuals going to prison as a result of being charged with marijuana possession.

Problem Statement or Objective

This paper is meant to discuss the effects that legalizing marijuana will have on prison populations, especially given that a large number of people presently staying in prison have been sent there for being caught possessing or dealing marijuana. It is essential for us to discuss this issue because society is losing significant resources as a consequence of trying to put people who use marijuana behind bars. It is irrelevant whether or not marijuana is beneficial, as the true question needed to be answered here is whether or not its decriminalizing would be observed in the number of individuals going to prison every year.

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Research Proposal on Legalizing Marijuana Would Have on Prison Population Assignment

Regardless or not if marijuana should be considered one of society's greatest problems, it seems rather absurd for the authorities to want to put a disabled woman (for example) as a result of the fact that she was consuming marijuana. An inmate costs the state as much as several hundred dollars per day, meaning that the public has to pay large amounts of money to keep a lady (who surely does not represent a harm to society as a whole) behind bars (Gerber, 2004, p. 2). "At the federal level, spending for drug enforcement (including interdiction and intelligence) rose from about $1.5 billion in 1981 to over $12 billion by 2002" (Shepard & Blackley, 2007). One of the most worrying issues when discussing marijuana enforcement is the fact that the majority of individuals sent to prison because of being connected to the drug are charged with possession. Millions of individuals were arrested in the recent years for the simple fact that they either consumed or possessed small amounts of marijuana. This has influenced people in expressing more and more doubt in regard to the effectiveness of the government's anti-marijuana campaign. Instead of showing sympathy toward the masses concerning their questioning of the war against marijuana, the government has actually continued to increase the resources it invested into providing people related to marijuana use or sale with harsh penalties (Shepard & Blackley, 2007).

It only seems normal for a modern society to refrain from investing resources into campaigns if the costs involved far exceed the benefits that they generate. The fact that the number of individuals sent to prison as a result of possessing marijuana is constantly increasing every year should not be perceived as a success experienced by the war against drugs, as people should actually understand that harsh penalties are not enough to keep people from using this particular drug. Because it is cheaper and less harmful in comparison to other drugs, marijuana is more accessible and generally considered to be less of a drug. Moreover, with marijuana being promoted as being a medicinal drug, people are influenced in believing that they will benefit as a result of using it, thus making it more likely for the number of individuals who consume marijuana to increase in the following years (Gerber, 2004, p. 52).

Many presidential administrations have expressed their concern in regard to drug use and about how it is essential for the authorities to get actively engaged in reducing the number of people consuming marijuana by sending them to jail. The Clinton Administration seemed less certain in regard to the effectiveness of criminalizing marijuana, as President Clinton apparently believed that it would be more efficient for authorities to employ a more intelligent approach to the issue. Clinton appeared to be particularly against previous drug policies in the U.S., as he considered that locking people up is not the solution to the drug problem. Surely, the former president realized that it was especially harsh for marijuana users to be treated similarly to individuals who used harder drugs. Present-day conditions concerning marijuana use and possession are critical, as "even minor drug convictions can trigger harsh collateral sanctions under both state and federal law, including loss of student financial aid and public assistance" (Mikos, 2009).

Decriminalizing marijuana would not only benefit society because of the resources saved as a result of refraining from putting users behind bars, as it would also be significant in preventing the authorities from hiring more federal agents and from building more federal prisons. Prison populations would most probably experience a rapid decrease consequent to marijuana being decriminalized, as the hundreds of thousands of individuals charged with marijuana possession every year would no longer have to go to prison (Mikos, 2009).

Research Questions & Hypothesis

Although many might be inclined to believe that a decrease in the number or prison inmates would be equivalent to more criminals being left on the streets, it is very probable that society in general will not experience any disadvantages on account of marijuana being decriminalized. Society would most function more effectively if marijuana were be legalized, as economy and people as a whole would no longer be affected as a result of people being sent to prison for possessing marijuana. Marijuana can be particularly detrimental for dealers, as when considering that "In September 1969, a twenty-one-year-old man was sentenced to fifty years in prison by the state of Texas for the act of selling two marijuana cigarettes" (Goode, 1970, p. 261), and, that matters are basically the same in the present, it is obvious that individuals who are actually fond of the substance can be harshly affected as a result of wanting to use or commercialize it. Criminalizing marijuana is, in point of fact, much more detrimental for society than marijuana itself.


In order for one to understand more concerning marijuana users or dealers and the degree to which they can be affected by decriminalizing marijuana, one needs to consider several cases involving such individuals. Angelos, a 24-year-old record producer convicted on account of three marijuana sales, has received a 55-year sentence, as the judge had to consider the fact that the suspect had reportedly carried a weapon when he carried out his sales (Mauer, 2007)

The authorities need to acknowledge the fact that criminalizing marijuana is actually encouraging drug cartels. Moreover, people who want to produce and commercialize the drug have to deal with gangs that are unsupportive toward competition. Consumers themselves have to interact with criminals because they cannot get marijuana from elsewhere. Angelos, for example, was most probably forced to carry a weapon because he risked being killed by the gangs that he was competing with (Mauer, 2007).


The subjects that need to be studied in order to determine the effect that legalizing marijuana would have on society are inmates who were convicted because they were caught possessing marijuana, people who were previously inmates as a result of possessing the substance, and individuals who want to consume marijuana despite the fact that they risk being sent to prison because of this.

In order to be able to understand more in regard to how prison time affects individuals charged with possession of marijuana, one needs to concentrate on how these respective individuals accept their condition. During their stay in prison, it is very likely for them to actually feel that the system is wrong in considering that marijuana consumers are equivalent to people committing far graver crimes and that it would be perfectly normal for them to try and get actively involved in fighting the system. "Since the latest war on drugs began, in 1982, the nation's prison population has tripled. Between 1980 and 1994, state and federal prison population increased from 319,598 to 999,808. The United States now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world" (Anelauskas, 1999, p. 273).

When considering marijuana criminalization, dealers are considered to be some of the most terrible criminals. The authorities often provide dealers with life sentences on account of the fact that they intoxicate the masses with their substances. "In Alabama, for example, simple possession carried a mandatory minimum of five years, and in Missouri a second offense for possession could bring a life sentence" (Weisheit, 1992, p. 22). Rapists and murderers, however, are sometimes provided with less severe penalties and are released consequent to spending some time in prison. Considering this, it appears that the authorities believe that it is safer to release rapists and murderers into society than it is to release people accused of having commercialized one of the most controversial… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Legalizing Marijuana Would Have on Prison Population.  (2011, May 10).  Retrieved April 1, 2020, from

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"Legalizing Marijuana Would Have on Prison Population."  10 May 2011.  Web.  1 April 2020. <>.

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"Legalizing Marijuana Would Have on Prison Population."  May 10, 2011.  Accessed April 1, 2020.