I wrote this paper for my Communications class. What do you guys think of it? The economic recession creates an ever increasing budget deficit for lawmakers. A somewhat unusual but effective way to alleviate those debts is to turn to marijuana. Marijuana became legal for recreational use recently in Washington and Colorado. Those who oppose the Legalization movement, predict violence, crime, and social disintegration of the county will follow. Others feel legalization will be very beneficial to the United States. I feel legalizing marijuana will reduce crime and violence while bringing billion of dollars in tax revenue. On a state level, marijuana has been around legally since 1996 when California endorsed medical marijuana. Since then 18 other states have followed. Support for cannabis prohibition is going up in smoke. In 2012, Washington voters passed Initiative 502 to legalize marijuana for recreational use with 55 percent of the population supporting legalization. With time these states hope to eliminate the black market, reduce violence, help people medically, and help the economy. Legalization of marijuana will help us in this time of financial crisis. It would reduce crime by putting an end to the illegal sales of marijuana and generate a substantial amount of revenue for the government and local businesses. According to a study from 2010 by Cato, legalizing marijuana on a national level would generate $8.7 billion dollars in tax revenue annually (Miron 4). Beyond that, the United States would save billions of dollars currently spent on regulating marijuana use. There were 750,000 marijuana related arrests in 2011; that translates to one arrest every 45 seconds in the US, according to FBI Uniform Crime Reporting data (Ferner). All these arrests criminalize a plant known to be safer than alcohol. An article released in 2009 stated that 41 percent of the population admitted trying marijuana at least once in their life (Armentano). Marijuana is known to help with cancer, pain, hepatitis C, Crohn's disease, and many other conditions. Legalized marijuana on a national scale wouldn't be much different than it is now. Yet many states shy away from legalizing marijuana due to fear of federal prosecution. Marijuana is still considered a schedule 1 drug by the federal government meaning it has no medical use and has a high potential for abuse. Even this may change soon; a bipartisan bill sponsored by U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher would modify the federal Controlled Substances Act so anyone complying with state marijuana laws would be immune from federal prosecution. This is a big step in the right direction for legalization. If this bill goes through, the fear from federal prosecution would end and many more states would consider legalization. These states have ever increasing debt and are looking for ways to generate funds accepted by the citizens. They will be watching Colorado and Washington to see the outcome over the next few years. Washington's marijuana sales will be strictly regulated similar to alcohol sales. Marijuana may only be grown by state licensed growers who pay a 25 percent tax. It goes to the distributor who is also charged a 25 percent tax, followed by a retailer, who is also charged 25 percent tax, and finally to the end user, 21 years of age or older, who is also charged a 25 percent tax. The entire pipeline is regulated to ensure legalization does not get out of hand, while generating an estimated $450 million a year in tax revenue for Washington state in tax revenue (Florip). This number will gradually increase as people begin to view marijuana as a legal product, like alcohol, sold in retail stores. Those who are against legalization say consumption will increase. Legalization critics cite health risks associated with smoking marijuana such as increased anger, anxiety, and increased risk of cancer They claim it affects memory and can be a gateway drug leading people to try things such as heroin. The argument that legalization will increase consumption is most likely true. As marijuana becomes more socially acceptable and legal, more people will give it a try. Perhaps this will reduce the amount of violent and dangerous crimes fueled by alcohol. Instead of becoming drunk and angry, people may just smoke a little marijuana and relax. Worries about health risks are well founded. Smoking any substance is risky - but marijuana is versatile: you don't have to smoke it. People can digest marijuana through food. It can be infused into basically any food so the user no longer has to smoke anything. Marijuana can also be vaporized, heated to the point of vaporization and not combustion. These are much healthier options for ingesting marijuana. Many studies dismiss the argument that marijuana acts as a gateway drug. In 2006, a 12-year study by the American Psychiatric Association found little or no correlation between adolescents using cannabis and the possibility of addiction to harder drugs. Marijuana has been the white elephant in the room since prohibition started 60 years ago. It is safer to use than alcohol yet continues to be federally illegal. There are 730,000 medical marijuana patients in the U.S. and over half the population supports legalization. The tax money generated through sales of marijuana would generate billions of dollars annually helping us out of this economic recession. Cannabis hemp was one of the largest agricultural crop in the United States till 1883 generating income and jobs. Its helped the economy in the past and will help us once again.