The Advantages of Being Legal

Matt Streett English 102~D
There are many arguments on the question of whether or not to legalize
marijuana. The benefits of legalizing marijuana include its medicinal value and
its many uses to produce commercial products like paper, rope, oil, textiles,
and canvas. Another good reason to legalize marijuana is that hundreds of
thousands of non-violent drug offenders are overpopulating prisons, costing
taxpayers millions of dollars. Legalization would also put marijuana dealers
out of business and it would bring revenue to the government like alcohol and
tobacco does. Some opposition to legalizing marijuana is that traffic
fatalities would increase, and that more people like school teachers and bus
drivers would be smoking legally purchased marijuana. They also believe that
more young people would smoke more marijuana.

Marijuana is medicine and has been used as medicine for thousands of
years to treat a wide variety of ailments. It is one of the safest
therapeutically active substances known. Marijuana is often useful in the
treatment of cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and chronic
pain. For cancer patients, marijuana alleviates the nausea, vomiting, and loss
of appetite caused by chemotherapy treatment. It does the same for people with
AIDS. By reducing intraocular pressure, marijuana helps slow or halt the
gradual increasing eye pressure suffered by glaucoma patients. Marijuana reduces
the muscle pain and spastically caused by multiple sclerosis. It also helps some
patients control their bladders. With some epileptic patients, marijuana
prevents seizures. Marijuana is also a very effective pain reliever.

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Hemp, a plant mainly grown for its use as a fiber source, is from the
same plant that produces marijuana. It is different because industrial hemp is
grown with minute amounts of delta-9 and tetrahydrocannibinol, abbreviated as
THC, which is the element in marijuana that gives the high sensation’.

Industrial hemp is one of nature’s strongest and most versatile agricultural
crops. It can be used to produce various things such as textiles, paper,
clothing, plastics, cosmetics, food stuffs, insulation, and animal feed. Hemp
seeds can be used to make high protein foods and the oil can be used to produce
non-toxic paint, varnish, detergent, diesel fuel, ink, and lubricating oil.

One acre of hemp produces as much fiber as two to three acres of cotton
and one acre also produces as much paper as two to four acres of trees. The
advantage of using paper products produced by hemp is that hemp’s growing cycle
is around one hundred days, while it takes trees years to grow to produce the
same amount of paper. Hemp was cultivated in the U. S. until 1937, when the
Marijuana Tax Act outlawed marijuana. In 1942 the government encouraged American
farmers to cultivate hemp for the war effort, but then in 1955 prohibitionists
had reasserted a total ban on production. Now the DEA, Drug Enforcement
Administration, remains firmly opposed to any notion of revising the federal
laws to allow hemp’s domestic cultivation.

Every year 400,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana and thousands of
them are sent to prison. Marijuana users and dealers account for sixty percent
of all prisoners today. Because of new anti-drug laws, these prisoners can be
jailed for up to thirty years, and most are, even for minor crimes. Federal and
State governments are spending billions to build more prisons to house hundreds
of thousands of non-violent drug offenders.

Legalization would kill the black market for marijuana. Marijuana sales
would be regulated by state and federal governments. It would also help the
economy by a reduction in law enforcement costs, and police could focus more on
dangerous drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and crystal meth.

Some people who oppose the legalization of marijuana say that traffic
fatalities would increase. The myth is that 40% of drug related emergency room
visits are marijuana related. The fact is that this statistic purposely excludes
the legal drug of alcohol, a drug notorious for causing violence and accidents.

A marijuana related emergency room visit does not mean marijuana caused the
incident. If the patient admits to using marijuana days or weeks before the
incident or if someone involved in the incident is found only possessing
marijuana, then the emergency room admission is counted as marijuana related.

At first, the amount of people using marijuana may increase. The idea
that people like school teachers, day care providers, and bus drivers smoking
legally purchased marijuana and endangering others is something that should not
be worried about. Do these people drink alcohol before going to work or smoke
cigarettes during work? They are mostly responsible adults and if they choose to
smoke the legally purchased marijuana, they would do it responsibly.

Most recreational marijuana smokers will continue to smoke even if
marijuana is never legalized. I was forced to temporarily quit smoking because
of the system. I used to occasionally smoke until my room was searched at the
college I attended freshman year. I felt that my personal rights were violated
when every room on my hall was searched after someone set off a firework. The
search was conducted by a R.A., a person who is my age, and it was done without
my roommate or I present . Nothing was left in plain sight, in fact, all of the
paraphernalia was found in a backpack which was in a filing cabinet that was in
my closet. I felt as though I did not commit a crime, but as though I was the
victim. As former president Lincoln said, Prohibition goes beyond the bounds
of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation, and a
makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a
blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.
Category: Social Issues