Legalize It

Discussion in 'Marijuana Legalization' started by Superjoint, Jun 20, 2003.

  1. By Timothy Gilbert
    Source: The Battalion

    People have debated the worth of marijuana for years, and the argument is still going on. Of the many questions asked are: Should marijuana be legalized in the United States? Is marijuana addictive? How harmful is marijuana to the human body?
    Recently, the debate has heated up because of America's neighbor to the north, Canada. According to Canada Online, Canada's Justice Minister Martin Cauchon has made it apparent that he will introduce legislation sometime in 2003 that will decriminalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use during the upcoming session of Parliament. This could be interpreted as a step toward legalizing marijuana, one that the United States should follow.

    According to Canada's Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs, "Marijuana is not a gateway drug and should be treated more like tobacco or alcohol than like harder drugs." Treating these two drugs differently makes no sense.

    At the close of the U.S. national anthem, it is stated that America is the "land of the free." Everyone knows that it is impossible for people to enjoy perfect and entire freedom and still have an organized society, but people should be free to make choices about their own health without the government telling them what is right and wrong.

    Canada's Special Committee on Illegal Drugs states that, on average, 30,000 people are arrested each year for simple possession of marijuana. It also states that each imprisoned individual costs $50,000 per year. When the math is done, the costs amount to $1.5 billion per year to imprison people arrested for possession of marijuana. Instead of wasting this money on incarcerating people possessing relatively small amounts of marijuana, the Canadian government could spend it to combat legitimate crime and educate the public.

    The decriminalization of marijuana does not mean that people should be able to smoke it and get behind the wheel of a car or participate in any other activity that could injure another person. Just like with alcohol, driving and certain other activities performed while under the influence should be illegal. However, smoking marijuana shouldn't be banned just because people can possibly go out and harm others after smoking. Many people can and do harm others without marijuana being involved at all. Alcohol consumption, which was once illegal, still results in death and injury.

    No one is saying that marijuana is a harmless drug that only hurts people when other factors, such as driving, are compounded with it. In fact, according to "Health and Fitness: A Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle," a book used in health classes on Texas A&M's campus, marijuana smoke "may be more damaging than cigarette smoke."

    However, even with this information, California State University Northridge's college of health and human development reports that "every year, 40,000 die as a result of tobacco usage and more than 150,000 people die from alcohol related causes yet not one person has ever died from smoking marijuana." Still, tobacco and alcohol are perfectly legal to use and abuse, and marijuana is not.

    If marijuana was treated like its legal counterparts, many Americans would have a lot less to worry about. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that there have been "more than 10 million marijuana arrests in the United States since 1970," which adds up to more than 300,000 arrests per year. These are people who now have criminal records which will follow them for the rest of their lives.

    All of these unnecessary arrests also make American taxpayers use their tax money for something that is obviously not achieving its goal. The Marijuana Policy Project, a lobbying organization, states that "taxpayers spend nine billion dollars annually to hunt down, arrest, try and incarcerate marijuana consumers." This money could be spent chasing legitimate criminals or terrorists.

    If people really want to stop or slow the use of marijuana, then they are going about it the wrong way. All the money that is wasted on the criminal aspects of marijuana could be pumped into educating children at an early level of development about the truths of the drug. Education would allow Americans to make better decisions about what they want to do with their bodies.

    Note: America should follow Canada's planned decriminalization of marijuana.

    Source: The Battalion (TX)
    Author: Timothy Gilbert
    Published: June 19, 2003
    Copyright: 2003 The Battalion Online - Texas A&M

    Related Articles & Web Site:

    Marijuana Policy Project

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