Example Of Legalizing Marijuana Research Paper
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A contentious topic of political and sociological debate, the legalization of marijuana has recently emerged as a significant issue and widely contested topic in public discourse and political debate today. Advocates of legalizing marijuana argue that current laws discriminate against particular social groups and violate the fundamental constitutional rights that allow individuals to smoke marijuana while endorsing the consumption of alcohol and/or tobacco (Bloomquist 346). The media, popular culture proponents of medical marijuana, and political leaders have conveyed somewhat confusing messages and ideas that pertain to the harmlessness and unfortunate ramifications caused by consuming marijuana. The states of Colorado and Washington have already legalized cannabis consumption for medical and/or recreational use, and twenty one other states have legalized the consumption of marijuana explicitly for medical uses. Ultimately, the legalization of marijuana will yield significant therapeutic and financial benefits in a litany of ways. Marijuana should be legalized in America because it will provide a great economic boost to a country overburdened by debt, will provide relief to prisons overcrowded due to the high incarceration rates of non-violent offenders as well as the socioeconomic detriments high incarceration rates cause, and ultimately provide proven therapeutic and medicinal benefits.
ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION
One significant positive of legalizing marijuana is the economic benefit doing so would proffer for a large portion of the American populace. Many supporters of marijuana legalization base their advocacy on cost-benefit analysis and calculations. More than five hundred economists, including renowned scientists and noble laureates such as George Akerlof, point to a study by economist Jeffrey Miron regarding the economic impact of legalizing marijuana. Miron’s study concludes that legalizing cannabis would generate revenues if the federal government lifts the man on cannabis consumption and possession and replaces it with the regulation and taxation of the drug (Miron). Economists agree that, like tobacco and alcohol, legalizing marijuana would indeed generate enough tax revenues while also saving the government a large sum of money annually both at the federal and state levels. Colorado, the only state that has legalized the selling and consumption of cannabis for recreational purposes, generated over a million dollars in sales during its inauguration and also instituted a statewide tax rate of approximately twenty-nine percent (Burden). Moreover, the legalization of marijuana created almost a thousands new jobs (Stevens). If legalized on a national scale, marijuana would provide a financial catalyst that could greatly help alleviate the debt this country faces through regulation of sales and taxation alone and open up a plethora of jobs.
Criminalizing marijuana also requires direct enforcement costs regarding law enforcement, so its legalization would mitigate the litany of burdens associated with prison upkeep that American taxpayers face annually as well as the social costs and harm fomented by the racism associated with the disproportionate surveillance and incarceration of members of subaltern communities for marijuana possession and consumption despite the fact that statistics show that the affluent and impoverished consume cannabis at similar rates. Miron estimates that the government spends $7.7 billion dollars to enforce prohibition in order to protect police officers and fund law courts and prisons (Grammy). The prison population in the U.S. has grown over seven million, which costs taxpayers over a billion dollars. Maintaining surveillance, policing, arresting, and prosecuting people for the consumption and/or possession of cannabis costs approximately between seven and ten billion dollars a year, with a significant portion of the cases involving individuals arrested solely for possessing the illicit drug. It is shocking that the total amount of crimes related to marijuana charges far surpass the number of violent crimes committed that include rape, assault, and even murder. Decriminalizing cannabis would not only grant law enforcement agencies more money, it would also help law enforcement to reorient their focus on mitigating violent crimes (Stevens). Beyond looking through an economic lens, criminalizing marijuana has unfairly racially targeted minorities. Statistics show that African Americans get arrested almost four times as much as Caucasians do for marijuana use and possession despite the reality that affluent white individuals use cannabis just as much if not more than minority groups do (ACLU). Thus, the legalization of cannabis can ameliorate financial burdens on the taxpayers with regards to the prison system and also rectify social discrimination by law enforcement.
MEDICAL AND THERAPEUTIC IMPACTS OF MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION
Legalizing cannabis for both medicinal and recreational purposes will not only help the U.S.’ floundering economy vis-a-vis taxation and sales costs while also reducing costs associated with incarceration, it also would emerge as an alternative form of medical assistance and pain alleviation for the sick and for individuals who suffer from terminal illness or chronic pain. Advocates argue that research and historical accounts bolster cannabis use for medical purposes as a safe treatment for an array of debilitating illnesses (Heinrich and Mathre 61). Managing symptoms has become the primary therapeutic use of cannabis within the medical context, as various studies approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that were conducted during the 1980s supported arguments regarding the effectiveness and/or efficacy of marijuana as an appetite stimulant in addition to an antiemetic used when cancer patients receive chemotherapy (Heinrich and Mathre 64). Individuals who have contracted the HIV virus and/or AIDS suffer from a lack of appetite, which often leads to the loss of lean muscle mass. Marijuana boosts the appetites of terminal or severely ill patients by aiding their digestion of vital nutrients. Furthermore, those who suffer from multiple sclerosis must confront both mental and physical ailments during the course of their lives, which results in their immune systems failing. THC and CBD, two chemicals found in marijuana that contain anti-inflammatory properties, quell the inflammation caused by aforementioned medical conditions. Cannabis has also been proven to medically treat Glaucoma, a degenerative eye disease that often results in partial or full blindness because it causes blood pressure to increase in the eye. Marijuana lessens the eye pressure while also slowing blood flow into the eye. As a result, the likelihood of blindness sharply declines. Most significantly, the consumption of marijuana plays a formative role in combating the spread of cancer while mitigating any and all sickness experienced by patients who are treated with chemotherapy (Burden). The litany of positive therapeutic benefits associated with marijuana illuminate how political motives underlie the prohibition of such a potent and helpful drug, which does not serve the best interests of those who need it for therapeutic use and medical care.
MARIJUANA CONSUMPTION AND POPULAR CULTURE
The casual consumption of cannabis has become a prevalent, normalized, and acceptable activity done on television, which parallels the legal shifts that have recently occurred revolving around the legality of recreational and medical uses for cannabis. The consumption of weed has become as commonplace as romance and familial tensions that television shows seemingly always depict. The proliferation of reality shows dedicated to exploring the marijuana market such as "Pot Cops" and "Weed Country" attest to this shift in popular attitudes. Moreover, popular series such as "Parenthood," "Workaholics," "Homeland," "Mad Men," "The Office," and "Hot in Cleveland" have scripted scenes with material related to weed. In the season premiere of "Mad Men," Megan Draper gleefully takes out two joints loaded with cannabis that she had hidden in her bikini. Both Megan and Don Draper proceed to get high, thereby setting the tone for the rest of the season in which weed plays an integral part of the quotidian activities the characters participate in. Pot use permeates the entire series, and at one point Don professes, "I smell creativity" as he smells the sweet scent weed permeates his workplace. While the majority of shows represent adults casually getting high, others such as "Shameless" portray children and young adults getting high as recreation. Even the show "Malibu Country" shows the grandmother smoking a joint and the show "Wilfred" spotlights the dog getting high. These various shows all portray the consumption of marijuana in a very blasé fashion where the characters are not judged or depicted as criminals. Moreover, cannabis functions as a rhetorical strategy in movies and television shows such as "Workaholics" to deploy comic relief to the audience. During the Reagan-years, the "war on Drugs" had reached its apex, so television and popular culture portrayed the consumption of marijuana as a crime tantamount to the consumption of other illicit, stigmatized drugs such as cocaine. However, current media depictions limn marijuana use as a rather safe activity if users are responsible (Gilbert).
When viewed through less tradition analytic lens, some television shows, movies, and other forms of visual media have also functioned as potent didactic mechanisms that portray illicit drug use and abuse and convey particular stereotypes about drug consumption and addiction. In the modern day, members of the American populace watch thousands of hours of television as well as movies per year. Such forms of visual media open to a wide audience retains the capacity to distort and distill the truth, but they nonetheless govern hegemonic perceptions of drugs and the consumption of illicit substances in American society. Observers have time and again critiqued the widely popular television show "Weeds" for perpetuating historical stereotypes and popular conceptions of drug-users as subaltern. A poor, black, single mother, an Indian man who owns and works at a Quikeemart, and an Hispanic maid all become active participants in a subculture defined by drug consumption (Haylett). Such images of stereotypical drug users as members of nonwhite communities and ethnic groups influences the viewer to juxtapose drug possession and consumption with the subaltern despite the reality that affluent community members consume a commensurate amount if not more illicit drugs than their subaltern counterparts. As a result, endemic to these poor, non-white communities are domestic abuse, various forms of victimization, frequent deaths related to drug addiction, parents who do not properly take care of their children, and the ubiquity of disease s(Haylett). Through the lens of race and class, television and movies have facilitated the diffusion of the perspective that marijuana use is characteristic of impoverished, subaltern communities that essentially criminalizes them in order to preserve white hegemony in the U.S.
Enforcing marijuana laws has failed to reduce its overall usage. Legalizing marijuana carries various financial, social and medicinal benefits that will have important consequences in the future. Regulating and taxing cannabis would reap great financial benefits and alleviate a reeling economic strapped with debt. Furthermore, legalizing marijuana would reduced overcrowded prisons that cost the taxpayers billions of dollars every year. The social harm caused by the war on marijuana would also be lessened, as police nationally continue to unfairly target minorities in their enforcement against marijuana possession and use. Finally, research and historical studies show that marijuana provides vital therapeutic and medicinal benefits to patients suffering from chronic pain, cancer and other illnesses. Marijuana provides significant benefits in many arenas, and its legalization would not only provide a needed economic boost in a reeling economy but would also enable an expansion in alternative medicine and rectify discriminatory legislation that has plagued the country's movement towards social justice.
ACLU. "American Civil Liberties Union." American Civil Liberties Union. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2015. <https://www.aclu.org/billions-dollars-wasted-racially-biased-arrests>.
Bloomquist, Edward. “Marijuana: Social Benefit or Social Detriment?” Western Journal of Medicine. May 1967; 106(5): 346–353.
Bur, Wes. "Opinion: Legalization of marijuana has financial, health benefits." The Lantern. N.p., 14 Jan. 2014. Web. 28 Jan. 2015. <http://thelantern.com/2014/01/opinion-legalization- marijuana-financial-health-benefits/>.
Gilbert, Matthew. "On many shows, marijuana puffs are part of the performance - The Boston Globe." BostonGlobe.com. N.p., 18 Sept. 2013. Web. 28 Jan 2015. <http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/style/2013/06/17/many-shows-marijuana-puffs- are-part-performance/9mET79NyBCHbpIlpiCzjxM/story.html>.
Grammy, Abbas. "Economic Benefits of Medical Marijuana." Premiere Thoughts: CSUB Business Blog. N.p., 26 Mar. 2012. Web. 28 Jan. 2015. <http://www.csub.edu/kej/documents/economic_rsch/2012-03-26.pdf>.
Haylett, Emma . "Mass Media and the Power of Televised Addiction." Drug Addiction Support. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2015. <http://www.drug-addiction- support.org/mass-media-and- the-power-of-televised-addiction.html>.
Heinrich, Janet, and Mary Lynne Mathre. "Policy Perspectives: Therapeutic Cannabis." The American Journal of Nursing 101.4 (2001): 61-68. JSTOR.
Miron, J., “The Budgetary Implication of Marijuana Prohibition,” 2005, http://www.prohibitioncosts.org/mironreport.html
Stevens, Amanda. "COMMON SENSE Legalizing marijuana allows police to focus on violent crimes." The Raw Story. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2014. <http://www.rawstory.com/exclusives/amanda/legalizing_marijuana_violent_crime_731. htm >
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