Term Paper: Why Marijuana Should Be Legal

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¶ … Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational use of marijuana. What if Marijuana were legal in all of U.S.A. This paper's purpose is to provide an account of the arguments in favor of widespread legalization. In this sense, focus falls sequentially on what is truly known about the herb and its effects, the basis for its initial outlawing, federal policies vs. state liberties, the impact on a personal level for citizens involved with marijuana consumption, and a comparative interpretation between U.S. And Netherlands policy.

There is an abundance of scientific studies regarding use of marijuana available, yet whichever conclusions are reached, most researchers insist that further clinical enquiry is necessary. There never seems to be convincing evidence of marijuana causing addiction, or being a gateway drug. What is marijuana and what does it really do? A marijuana user may experience pleasant sensations, "colors and sounds may seem more intense, and time appears to pass very slowly. The user's mouth feels dry, and s/he may suddenly become very hungry and thirsty" (Yacoubian, 2007). These manifestations hardly seem to pose any danger on society. Although it is reported to increase heart rate and arousal, marijuana has a divergent effect on anxiety.

Moreover, in terms of immediate impact on mood and affect, consumption has either a positive or negative effect, highly dependent on individual differences, namely outcome expectancies. Interestingly, unlike an expectation to suffer some impairment, outcome expectancies for relaxation and recreation were not associated with changes in anxiety but were correlated with a significant improvement in mood. This suggests that outcome expectancies for relaxation may play a more prominent role in positive affect, whereas impairment expectancies are tied to negative affect.

Other studies on marijuana show that less frequent users report stronger subjective effects than regular users. Disorders involving high levels of negative affect and arousal, such as posttraumatic stress disorder, can benefit from the use of marijuana because it immediately lowers situational negative affect and has a divergent effect on anxiety.

Overall, it all comes down to people's values. If citizens think that use of cannabis stimulation and intoxication is, on average, a good thing (enlisting the happy, controlled users, and the challenged suffering ones), then a benefit-cost analysis done in a way that reflects these values will, in all likelihood, conclude that legalization improves social welfare. On the other hand, if pubic opinion deems cannabis consumption a bad thing, then an analysis that reflects these same values will most likely reach the conclusion that legalization harms social welfare, because the most common-spread assumption is that legalization will increase use of marijuana on social scale.

In 1997, consultants present at the Consensus Conference, convened by the National Institutes of Health, acknowledged that THC, the active substance in cannabis, is of use in treating both AIDS-related loss of appetite and chemotherapy-induced nausea during cancer treatment. It was universally accepted that medical marijuana would have a significant impact on appetite stimulation and cachexia (bodily collapse in the final stages of cancer), on nausea, analgesia (decreased sensibility), movement disorders and glaucoma. However, it was decided that the application of these possibilities be postponed in the absence of "more and better studies" (Metrik 2011).

An examination of the initial basis on which marijuana was made illegal in the U.S. reveals preposterous aspects. Marijuana's contraband status is a result of historical error, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and a remarkable amount of ignorance. In this light, most anti-legalization manifestos seem almost ridiculous, since they rely on the false assumption that marijuana was banned for rational reasons. In spite of the fact that cannabis had been consumed for thousands of years in the Far East, at its discovery in America as a smoked intoxicant, it was associated with Mexicans. Mexican peasants were known by their northern neighbors to have started smoking cannabis descended from hemp as early as the nineteenth century.

Federal Bureau of Narcotics leader Harry Anslinger publicly professed that "marihuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes" and even stated that half the violent crimes in areas mostly inhabited by "Mexicans, Greeks, Turks, Filipinos, Spaniards, Latin Americans, and Negroes may be traced to the use of marihuana" (Sullum, 2013). In order to advance his own personal ambitions, Anslinger produced and circulated stories of vicious crimes allegedly caused by marijuana, portraying it as the most corrupting drug in all of history, and this description has since been associated with a succession of other drugs, sometimes based on similarly doubtful accounts.

Marijuana's past equivalence with African-Americans and Mexicans was decisive for its prohibition instatement, as it was publicly advertised by some figures of power as an exotic drug used by inferior but scary outsiders. The bans started at state level in 1915, with California's outlawing hemp, and culminated in the federal Marihuana Tax Act from 1937. It so follows that prohibition was not aimed at the plant as much as it targeted the people associated with its circulation.

The inference that marijuana transforms users into criminal, psychotic beasts was later on replaced with the opposite claim that it turns people into passive, unmotivated failures and this might have struck people familiar with use of marijuana as downright absurd. However, it is not them who had the power to configure drug legislation. In addition, members of the Congress had extremely limited knowledge of cannabis when they voted its banning. At some point, a congressman asked House Majority Leader Sam Rayburn from Texas what the bill was about, and he gave the self-explanatory answer, "It has something to do with a thing called marihuana. I think it is a narcotic of some kind"

(Sullum 2013).

Ungrounded federal regulations over possession or commercializing the plant of marijuana have endured for decades. Though Congress has banned marijuana with solid legislation that has passed the test of constitutional scrutiny, state laws amending medical use of marijuana not only survive; they are now the instated governing law in thirteen states. These state laws and most related regulations have not been and, more importantly, can't be challenged or changed by Congress. Limits are imposed on Congress's preemptive endeavors through the anti-commandeering rule.

Endorsement of medical use of marijuana in thirteen states has not only overcome the most implacable legal barrier to using the drug, it has generated more tolerance in personal and social attitudes toward use of cannabis. Medical marijuana use has survived, and one may say, flourished in the shadow of the federal ban. The war over medical marijuana may just approach closure, and it is the states, and not the federal government, that have the odds to emerge the victors in this struggle. "Supremacy, in short, has its limits" (Mikos, 2009).

However, the Supreme Court decided that it is federal government's right to regulate interstate commerce, and this extends even to homegrown marijuana used by ailing patients in medical conditions that benefit from cannabis usage. Notwithstanding the Supreme Court's extravagant interpretation of the Commerce Clause, each state is endowed with the right to issue new approaches to cannabis. "The Constitution does not allow the federal government either to order state governments to create any particular criminal law or to require state and local police to enforce federal criminal laws" (Sullum 2013).

A poll conducted on the fourth of April 2013 by Pew Research Center points out that amidst morphing attitudes concerning use of marijuana, 72% of Americans say that government efforts to enforce anti-marijuana laws cost more than their worth. In equal measure, 60% say that the federal government should not enforce federal laws prohibiting the use of marijuana in states where it is legal (2013).

On a personal level, legalization would mean that marijuana users will no longer be perceived as criminals or need to interact with criminals in order to acquire cannabis. Legalization will namely neutralize the purpose of street dealers. With decriminalization, marijuana remains illegal; criminal sanctions are still applicable to dealers, prices stay up, and dealers continue to be engaged in a risky activity. (Thies, 2012) Even so, it is worth noticing that prices for marijuana acquirement are up to 50% higher in places where the prohibition is strictly enforced, by contrast with places in which marijuana has already been decriminalized.

Legalization, as opposed to decriminalization, offers the possibility of fundamentally altering of the marijuana market. Specifically, legalization presents the advantage of eliminating high stakes involved in marijuana traffic. but, without an excised tax and additional control on supply, such as the licensing of production, to keep the price of marijuana high, the fall in the price of marijuana might be very substantial, much more than the 50% fall that appears to be connected with decriminalization, and it so ensues that increase in the quantity demanded would be much greater. This being considered, "legalization in conjunction with taxation and regulation may be able to achieve a superior set of results" (Thies, 2012).

It would be relevant in the course of advocating for marijuana legalization to venture a comparison between U.S.A. And Netherlands politics, as exponents of antithetical… [END OF PREVIEW]

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