Marijuana is a psychoactive substance that is classified as an illegal drug in the United States. It is commonly used for medical and recreational purposes which are leading to its widespread acceptance. Numerous US jurisdictions have considered legal options to decriminalize the drug. The legalization of marijuana is necessary due to the various health and socio-economic benefits it presents for society if implemented under strict regulation.
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The medical benefits of marijuana as still being researched and are highly controversial. Nevertheless, it has been accepted as an appropriate medical practice in many clinics driven by state-wide legislation. Two primary substances that have medical benefits are THC and CBD cannabinoids derived from the marijuana plant. Synthetic THC is used in some FDA approved drugs already (Armand). The unique aspect of marijuana-based medicine is its adaptable use for the treatment of various conditions. It has been used for the treatment of glaucoma, as an appetite stimulant, and for pain management in cancer patients. Other suggested uses include treating multiple sclerosis, seizure, and psychiatric disorders. In light of the recent opioid epidemic, marijuana has been suggested as an alternative for those suffering from substance abuse (“Marijuana as Medicine”). Also, the concerns of those fearing that legalization of marijuana will lead to higher rates of addiction are addressed. If marijuana is legalized, appropriate regulation and public health services can be implemented to manage the distribution of the drug and its potential side-effects.
There are substantial economic benefits of marijuana legalization. It will help produce budgetary savings by eliminating the need to direct resources on marijuana prosecution if it is decriminalized. A lot of resources are spent on enforcing the current laws usually involving minors and low-level drug distributors which have an insignificant effect on curbing marijuana use amongst the population. It is estimated that more than $13.7 billion in annual spending can be saved and redirected towards more critical issues in the criminal justice system. The most prominent appeal to the legalization of marijuana for governments is revenue gains from taxation on the product. It would be placed under an excise tax which provides more revenue per product sold. The government will be able to benefit from the industry, issuing licenses, and distribution permissions, earning a potential $8.7 billion in revenue (Evans 2). As the legal industry evolves, there will be a decreased participation in underground sales, which would keep producing tremendous revenue and economic benefits for the national economy.
There are various social benefits as well which correlate with the health and economic effects of marijuana legalization. By making the product legal, it allows for better regulation of its distribution. Purchases would now be legally controlled for age restrictions and the amount of product. People experiencing issues would be more willing to ask for help, no longer fearing prosecution. Any illegal trade would be essentially shut down, eliminating the dangerous criminal elements which are associated with underground drug distribution (Hajizadeh 454). It is anticipated that marijuana can increase productivity nationally by decreasing absenteeism and employee turnover that occurs in substantial amounts as people are held accountable for the criminal justice system. Since rates of incarcerations and fines would decrease with decriminalization, there will be an increase in social stability within families and communities (Evans 4).
The legalization of marijuana is supported by a variety of public health and socio-economic benefits. The process of legalization is widely recommended in the United States as aggregate contributions outweigh any potential consequences, which can be managed with the competent regulation of the drug. The primary strategy in achieving the improvements which legalization of marijuana can offer is to decriminalize the drug and disperse any unofficial sales.
Armand, Wynne. “Marijuana: Health Effects of Recreational and Medical Use.” Harvard Medical School. Web.
Evans, David. “The Economic Impacts of Marijuana Legalization.” The Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice, vol. 7, no. 4, 2013, pp. 1-39, Web.
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Hajizadeh, Mohammad. “Legalizing and Regulating Marijuana in Canada: Review of Potential Economic, Social, and Health Impacts.” International Journal of Health Policy and Management, vol. 5, no. 8, 2016, pp. 453-456, Web.
“Marijuana as Medicine.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. 2017, Web.