Legalization of Marijuana

WHAT IT IS

WHY IT MATTERS

A central issue is the government budget: costs of enforcing prohibition/funding incarceration are high, and taxes could be levied on the sales and production of drugs. We’re talking big money. There is also massive legal implications if Sessions decides to crack down, from an individual to state level: a federal arrest for possession that may be legal in your state could ruin your education, job prospects, social relationships; to businesses across the state being forced to shut down, therefore, hundreds of individuals out of a job; to previously budgeted revenue for funding state government programs now gone.

  • LEGALIZE IT: “It’s high time”

    • Gateway drug?: The term “gateway drug” was originally coined in reference to nicotine. Most people who have used marijuana do not go on to use harder substances.
    • Increased income: The weed industry is raking in enormous tax revenues ($200 million in Colorado and $256 million in Washington last year). The legal cannabis market is projected to grow to $24 billion by 2025.
    • Saving money: Legalization could save the government $7.7 billion a year in expenditure on enforcement of prohibition; moreover, save $15 billion a year in expenditure on incarceration.
    • Time spent poorly: ACLU found that 1 in every 9 arrests are related to marijuana use/possession. This accounts to more marijuana arrests that all violent crimes combined.
  • CRIMINALIZE IT: “Pass on grass”

    • Gateway drug: Proponents believe marijuana use would lead to harder substances.
    • Big marijuana: Once legal, the drive for profit would lead to aggressive marketing resulting in increased drug use.
    • Public intoxication: Law enforcement would have to tackle public hazards like marijuana-intoxicated driving and drug-trafficking across state lines.
    • Line in the sand: If Marijuana is legalized, what drug is next? Schedule 1 drugs include heroin, LSD, ecstasy, meth, and peyote.

WHERE ARE WE NOW

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • Racial disproportion in arrests: African-Americans are ~3 times more likely to be arrested for possession than White counterparts.
  • Federally recognized research on side effects of marijuana cannot take place until the drug is declassified; only 1 current contract for research (at The University of Mississippi).
  • Canada is pursuing legalization of recreational marijuana across the country. Uruguay is the only other country where marijuana use is legal.