For decades, the United States and the world have sought to stem the tide of illegal drugs. From marijuana to cocaine, the U.S. has been in a bitter and losing battle against drugs.
While the war on drugs should continue, there are some substances that almost seem pointless to bar from the public.
One of these drugs is marijuana, a substance that has been in use long before it was discovered by the Western world.
To understand why marijuana should be legal, we must understand why it is illegal.
It was not initially criminalized due to scientific reasons. The reasons for marijuana being an illegal substance were founded on sensationalist stories, irresponsible journalism and a crusade led by the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD).
During the 1930s, when the marijuana scare began, many newspapers fueled the fire of fear by editorializing about marijuana without doing adequate research. One of these publications was the San Francisco Examiner.
The Examiner asserted, in the 1930s, that “Hasheesh (sic) makes a murderer who kills for the love of killing out of the mildest mannered man who ever laughed at the idea that any habit could ever get him…”
It’s safe to say that the risks of marijuana do not include ravaging the first person a user comes in contact with.
BNDD continued with sensationalist allegations on the effects of marijuana. Harry J. Anslinger, commissioner of BNDD from 1930 to 1962, used openly racist remarks to justify outlawing his case for illegalizing pot.
Anslinger claimed in 1937 that “…marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”
Furthermore, considering the state of the economy, making marijuana legal would possibly benefit California, if not the nation.
Imagine if marijuana was taxed in the same manner as cigarettes.
The Illinois General Assembly is currently seeking to increase the tax on cigarettes, using the money to generate $1 billion toward state health programs.
Marijuana could be taxed in the same way. The income generated could be used to benefit various state programs that are in need.
If the state government taxed marijuana at the same rate as alcohol and tobacco, it would bring in an estimated $6.2 billion annually.
The United States would also save copious amounts of money by halting the arrests and incarcerations of marijuana users.
According to Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard economics professor, the federal government would save an estimated $7.7 billion a year if it didn’t spend funds on policing the drug. Together, that would save the government $13.9 billion.
The same constraints could be placed on marijuana as are placed on alcohol, such as age restrictions, limits on locations for usage and a redefinition of laws involving “driving under the influence.”
Couple these regulations with the benefit of taxing the product and it seems ludicrous to demonize marijuana.
Even with marijuana being illegal, there are no shortages in cheating the laws to get a hold of some.
Why not just create rules and regulations?
Why not have the taxes pumping money back into the economy?
Why not stop the money being spent on a feudal fight against a black-market marijuana trade?