Should Marijuana Be Legalized In Canada? Research Papers Example
It is bewildering that some of nature’s own organic products are considered illegal. For some reasons however, illegal drug use is promoted by reserving some safe abuse sites. Our society promotes and protects a flourishing alcohol industry which is to blame for widespread violent behavior and multiple deaths. This is not forgetting the tobacco industry which is also the cause of thousands of deaths annually. However, marijuana, nature’s own natural product is considered immoral and harmful. In many regions of North America, a small nugget of marijuana can possibly land one in jail for a longer period of time than for murder. In many areas of Vancouver, smoking a joint as you walk down the street is commonplace, and nobody, even the police will react against it. It should be like this everywhere since the benefits of marijuana legalization are greater than those of failing to.
Dana Larsen, a marijuana legalization activist based in B.C. (British Columbia) notes that the fight against drugs in Canada mainly targets marijuana, especially its users (Ken, 2013). Statistics in fact support him. Since 2006, when Tories got into office, he ended plans by the previous Liberal government to decriminalize or cut down marijuana related penalties, causing a 41% increase in the number of its possession arrests (Ken, 2013). By 2013, arrests related to marijuana were more than 405000 (Ken, 2013). The federal government believes that marijuana users are criminals and need to be arrested to make Canada safer. Rob Nicholson, as a justice minister in 2013 supported the omnibus crime bill of the Conservatives (Ken, 2013). Through his support for this bill, he insinuated that child abuse and marijuana possession can be categorized as equal crimes. Surely, this is a phony war against cannabis by the government to “save” us from a non-existent marijuana disaster (Ken, 2013). There is no way possession of a few marijuana joints in the pockets can equal child sexual abuse, showing that there is a lot of emotionalism revolving around the issue. This creates further doubts towards the basis of it being declared illegal.
One of the major reasons why marijuana should be legalized is that prohibition hinders regulation of the drug market. Absence of market regulation leads to organized crime, lack of dose control, lack of quality control, and hinders control of the age of usage (Ken, 2013). The drug laws in place today have led to the undesired consequence of marijuana being used to a large extent by Canadian minors since they do not allow for regulation of the drug sector (Ken, 2013). According to the drug policy coalition professionals associated with Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction, the great emphasis on criminalization of drugs by the Conservatives is an “overwhelming failure” (Ken, 2013). This is justified by the aforementioned consequences of failing regulate the drug market.
Another reason why marijuana should be legalized is that the cost of prohibiting marijuana is disproportionately high compared its social and health effects. Enforcement of marijuana criminalization costs the federal justice and law enforcement system about $500 million annually – this huge amount can be put to better use (Bracebridge Examiner, 2014). The National Anti-Drug Strategy of the Conservatives implemented back in 2007 changed the drug strategy by investing more in the Justice department rather than in the Health Department in which it invested more previously (Ken, 2013). According to a report by the drug policy coalition, the drug strategy which is from 2012 to 2017 was allocated a budget of $528 million of which most goes to the efforts of enforcement instead of treatment, promotion of health, and public education (Ken, 2013). Analysts Gerald Thomas and Chris Davis used Canada’s health data to determine health and social costs resulting from alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis. They found that health costs related to tobacco were more than $800 for each user; health costs of alcohol totaled to $165 for each user; while health costs related to marijuana totaled to $20 for each user (Ken, 2013). Enforcement costs for each alcohol user totaled to $153 while those of each marijuana user totaled to $328 (Ken, 2013). Rephrased, 94% of the cost of marijuana to society is as a result of keeping it illegal which demeans claims of prohibiting it to reduce health and social costs (Ken, 2013).
Marijuana should also be legalized since the law used in its prohibition is both unfair and unequally applied. In March 2013, Derek Corrigan as city mayor supported marijuana legalization in a speech he made at event in Simon Fraser University in Burnaby (Ken, 2013). In his speech he said that he had learned the character of marijuana users in the course of career and users were a large portion of our society (as cited in Ken, 2013). He stated that users of cannabis are people we meet and interact with everyday, not criminals (as cited in Ken, 2013). According to Corrigan therefore, users are not supposed to be treated like criminals or even subjected to heavy penalties as they are currently. Another speaker at the event was Randie Long, a lawyer, who also supported marijuana legalization (Ken, 2013). He used to be a federal prosecutor who dealt with charges involving marijuana. He explained that the war on drugs involves a corrupting influence that is closer to society than even the dealers, gangs, or cartels (as cited in Ken, 2013). This influence makes then police and even the even the justice system to become corrupt (as cited in Ken, 2013). Long explained that there is easy money made through enforcement of the law by the police (as cited in Ken, 2013). To justify the acquisition of this money, all the police need to do is to make arrests. He said that both prosecutors and the police use statistics. The better the statistics, the better the money made (as cited in Ken, 2013). This proves that the probation laws are used in an unfair manner and sometimes for wrong objectives.
Further proof that marijuana prohibition laws are unfair and unequally applied, hence the need for legalization, is that most Canadians view the war on drugs as a failure and want marijuana to be legalized. If public opinion matters, the law must be unfair and does not stand for what people want. According to Angus Reid, a pollster, 68% of Canadians believed that the war on drugs was a “failure,” and 57% supported marijuana legalization in 2012 (as cited in Ken, 2013). Reid added that 75% of British Columbia residents were for marijuana regulation and taxation, meaning that they supported it under regulation (as cited in Ken, 2013). Furthermore according to him, only 14% of respondents supported that being caught with cigarette of marijuana should enter a criminal record (Reid as cited in Ken, 2013). In 2010, only about 10% of 74,000 drug possession offenses ended in a guilty verdict (Reid as cited in Ken, 2013). This means that possessions that are busted do end in trial. More than 50% of the cases that reach trial result in delays, withdrawal or even acquittal (Reid as cited in Ken, 2013). Analysis of this situation can only make one conclude that this is a waste of court time as well as police resources. It also begs one to question what criteria are used to select the 10% that are unlucky. All that is known by probability is that they are mostly young males, but a classification by either race or income is absent. This is additional proof of how unfair marijuana prohibition laws and their implementation are. In the book Hidden Harvest, Coakley describes the war on drugs as a “cruel failure” that functions to facilitate the prosperity of organized crime (as cited in Flamborough Review, 2014). According to Coakley, current laws mostly harm visible minorities or poor users, and cause the police to be disrespected, being caught in between (as cited in Flamborough Review, 2014).
Legalization of marijuana would not only eliminate the high cost of enforcement of prohibition, but would also bring high revenues to the government. A coalition of politicians, academics, and public health officials called, Stop the Violence B.C. is making efforts to remove emotions from the debate on legalization by developing scientifically-grounded counter-arguments to prohibition (Ken, 2013). One of its studies supposes that through licensing and taxation by a government’s sales and regulation board using the liquor control model, B.C. would be able to get about $500 million in revenue (Ken, 2013). Colorado and Washington, which have already legalized marijuana, are good indicators that legalization can reduce costs of enforcement and bring in great revenues through taxation and regulation. An impact analysis done for Colorado predicted that $12 million of enforcement costs would be saved in the first year and would gradually rise to $40 million (Ken, 2013). Both savings and revenues are estimated to reach $60 million annually and are likely to double in the years after 2017 (Ken, 2013).
The potential health benefits associated with marijuana are another reason why it should be legalized (Cosh, 2014). It is the most potent anti-nauseant and can be used in the treatment of other diseases like epilepsy and multiple-sclerosis (Cosh, 2014). A key example of this is a former corrections officer by the name Myrden, who since 1994, has been prescribed to marijuana to manage chronic pain associated with multiple sclerosis (Flamborough Review, 2014). She acts as the spokesperson for Law Enforcement against Prohibition which is based in the US (Flamborough Review, 2014). Myrden says that she was prescribed to marijuana after treatment with morphine, cocaine, and heroin failed (as cited in Flamborough Review, 2014). Doctors even predicted that she would spend her life being fed in a nursing home after 40, but thanks to marijuana, she is now 50 and can still function (Flamborough Review, 2014). According to Myrden, Canadian laws should aim at reducing harm, and ensuring responsible legalization (as cited in Flamborough Review, 2014). She supports marijuana legalization since it has been used in medicine for treatment for thousands of years and also because more than 50% of Canadians back it as a “social relaxant” (Flamborough Review, 2014).
Some opponents of legalization argue that it would lead to an increase in marijuana and other drugs usage. However, Picard argues that even though that would happen, it would be negligible based on the experience exhibited by other jurisdictions (as cited in Bracebridge Examiner, 2014). Some jurisdictions where the drug is legal in fact have lower percentages of than Canada. The 2012 World Drug Report by the United Nations ranked Canada eighth with regard to marijuana usage, with 12.7% of the population aged 15-64 being users (Ken, 2013). Spain having decriminalized all psychoactive drug possession (including marijuana) is an interesting contrast with 10.6% of the same population bracket being users, which is lower than Canada (Ken, 2013). This is proof that legalization of the drug may only lead to a meager increase in usage if it does not decrease it.
Other opponents argue that legalization may increases cases of drugged driving (Record, The, 2014). This is a reasonable concern but this can be combated by the police through roadside examinations (Record, The, 2014). The police can also request medical professionals for blood tests if necessary to fight the vice. Additionally, research by the World Health organization suggests that marijuana intoxication reduces the inclination for risk taking, which contrasts alcohol intoxication (Ken, 2013). Therefore marijuana may even be a lower risk on the roads than alcohol.
Some critics of legalization also fear that marijuana may be a health risk and is addictive. This is contrary to US scientific findings in 2006 showing that unlike tobacco, marijuana smoke does to predispose the user to lung cancer (Ken, 2013). Additionally marijuana unlike alcohol and tobacco is not addictive hence stopping its usage does not cause side effects (Bracebridge Examiner, 2014).
In conclusion, the benefits of legalizing marijuana by far outweigh the costs. Legalization is useful since it can: help to eliminate the high cost of prohibition enforcement; eliminate unfair prohibition laws; fulfill the opinion of the greater public; allow for regulation of drug markets to protect minors and ensure quality; help to reduce the organized crime of trafficking marijuana; and it can be used for medicinal purposes. Additionally, it does not cause addiction, and is less harmful than some legal substances. These arguments leave a challenge to opponents to join in the fight to legalize marijuana since it is clearly the most viable option.
Bracebridge Examiner,. (2014). Some informed opinion related to marijuana use in Canada..Eds.b.ebscohost.com.rap.ocls.ca. Retrieved 2 April 2015, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.rap.ocls.ca/eds/detail/detail?vid=8&sid=e3a1971f-6d15-4217-88cd0ad4514f3bfa%40sessionmgr113&hid=126&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#db=p3h&AN=BBIRBEX2014091430561949
Cosh, C. (2014). Legalization debate begins: a special Senate committee begins public hearings on the decriminalization of illegal drugs. Eds.b.ebscohost.com.rap.ocls.ca. Retrieved 2 April 2015, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.rap.ocls.ca/eds/detail/detail?vid=18&sid=e3a1971f-6d15-4217-88cd-0ad4514f3bfa%40sessionmgr113&hid=126&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#db=edsgao&AN=edsgcl.30182722
Flamborough Review,. (2014). Hamilton panelists debate marijuana legalization.Eds.b.ebscohost.com.rap.ocls.ca. Retrieved 2 April 2015, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.rap.ocls.ca/eds/detail/detail?vid=10&sid=e3a1971f-6d15-4217-88cd0ad4514f3bfa%40sessionmgr113&hid=126&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#db=p3h&AN=11CKFLAM2014053129260247
Ken, M. (2013). WE NEED TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA NOW. Eds.b.ebscohost.com.rap.ocls.ca. Retrieved 2 April 2015, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.rap.ocls.ca/eds/detail/detail?vid=5&sid=e3a1971f-6d15-4217-88cd0ad4514f3bfa%40sessionmgr113&hid=126&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#db=rch&AN=88177167
Record, The,. (2014). Driving while stoned should be part of pot legalization debate.Eds.b.ebscohost.com.rap.ocls.ca. Retrieved 2 April 2015, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.rap.ocls.ca/eds/detail/detail?vid=12&sid=e3a1971f-6d15-4217-88cd0ad4514f3bfa%40sessionmgr113&hid=126&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#db=p3h&AN=Q4KRKON2014012427492085