Marijuana Legalization: PREPARE and IMAGINE Models


Marijuana is a common drug that is present in many regions around the globe. However, unlike other drugs, marijuana is prohibited in many parts of the world. The drug was legal in several countries at the beginning of the 20th century. Research into some of its effects made it illegal in most of the nations (Dyke, 2014). Currently, the trend is that most nations are revoking the legislation of criminalizing the use of marijuana.

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The states of Colorado and Washington are some of the regions in the US that have legalized the use of the drug, with a host of others relaxing their ban on its use. Colorado and Washington have joined other nations in the world that have decriminalized the use of marijuana, including Netherlands and Brazil. The PREPARE and IMAGINE model in social work allows the analysis of some of the social issues in the contemporary environment. This model is beneficial in issues such as the legalization of marijuana.

Most researchers who have devoted themselves into investigating the effects and use of marijuana contend that most of the legal drugs cause thousands of deaths every year. According to them, marijuana contributes the least in terms of causing deaths. Therefore, they assert that the drug should not be banned in any part of the world. This research uses the PREPARE and IMAGINE model to evaluate the legalization of marijuana.

Prepare and Imagine Model

The problem that is to be addressed in the research is the legalization of marijuana for recreational and medical use in the states that have not done so in the US and other parts of the world. The reality is that many states, territories, and nations around the world still consider the sale and use of marijuana illegal, despite most studies showing little evidence of mortalities that have resulted from the drug. The primary goal of the paper is to establish the reasons behind the ban on the use of marijuana.

People who are mostly affected by the decision to legalize the drug include inmates who have been arrested with charges of being in procession and/or possession of the drug, or having used the drug. According to Michelle Alexander, as quoted by Short,

Here are white men poised to run big marijuana businesses, dreaming of cashing in big—big money, big businesses selling weed—after 40 years of impoverished black kids getting prison time for selling weed, and their families and futures destroyed. Now, white men are planning to get rich doing precisely the same thing” (Short, 2014, Para. 3).

The effects of legalizing the drug include the creation of a large market. The concern is that most of the individuals who are arrested because of this drug stand to lose. The cost and benefit of any move towards the legalization of marijuana may be assessed on the side of the people who use and/or sell the drug. While most of the individuals who are taken into custody because of processing marijuana have been found guilty and held in prisons, the larger number of individuals who deal in the drug are mostly the Whites. Ironically, the law is often in their favor. Michelle Alexander asserts that the population of marijuana offenders in state prisons in the US is disproportionately ‘white’ (Short, 2014).

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The offenses are not applicable to the ‘white’ majority. Several risks are involved in the legalization of marijuana in many states. One of these risks is highlighted in Alexander’s article that reveals that most of the people who benefit from the legalization of the drug use are mainly the Whites (Short, 2014). The legalization of marijuana use and procession will also pose a challenge to the authorities in terms of how to deal with the issue of the large population of inmates who are convicted for processing or using marijuana. Authors such as Anderson, Rees, and Sabia (2014) assert that the legal system has contributed to the low social status of some communities due to their discriminatory laws in the use of marijuana.

The evaluation of potential success of the legalization of marijuana in many states is documented in many literature materials (Anderson, Rees, & Sabia, 2014). The legislation that outlaws the use of marijuana for recreational purposes is based on the findings that the drug is not safe for human use and that it has adverse health effects. Any success towards the legalization of this drug will require the evaluation of studies that demonstrate that the drug is not harmful. The research paper demonstrates the idea towards the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana.

Legal systems in different parts of the world are the main assets in the debate on whether or not to legalize marijuana. In most of the places where marijuana use is illegal, people of low socio-economic status such as the black population in the US constitute the main group that is affected by the laws. The legalization of marijuana will require the introduction of policies that govern the use of the drug. Figure 1 shows the expected trend in the number of countries and states that are removing the ban on marijuana use.

Expected number of countries to legalize marijuana use

Theoretical Perspectives

There are numerous theoretical perspectives on the legalization of medical marijuana (Mello, 2013). In the past decade, the United States has seen changes in the legislature, including the legalization of marijuana in some of the states such as Washington and Colorado. Voters in these states nominated the legalization of the drug, including the lifting of the ban. Frequent use of marijuana results in the alteration of the mind of the user, especially for those who use the drug frequently. The drug is also associated with significant addiction and harm to the individuals who use it. The legalization of marijuana is likely to come with the effects of the drug such as unwanted health effects. Researchers assert that such a move will lead to increased unhealthy patterns among users, including the development of non-communicable diseases (Short, 2014).

Proponents of legalization of marijuana claim that the use of this drug has traditionally been associated with fewer side effects unlike the use of other drugs such as cigarettes and alcohol, yet these drugs are legally used throughout the world. This claim concurs with Alex Jones’ words,

The drug war is a total scam, prescription drugs kill 300K a year, while marijuana kills no one, but they spend billions/year ‘fighting’ it, because pot heads make for good little slaves to put into private prisons, owned by the banks who launder the drug money, and it’s ALL DOCUMENTED” (Jones, 2006, Para. 1).

Strengthening Jones’ claim, White (2014) uses William Buckley’s words,

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The amount of money and of legal energy being given to prosecute hundreds of thousands of Americans who are caught with a few ounces of marijuana in their jeans simply makes no sense – the kindest way to put it. A sterner way to put it is that it is an outrage, an imposition on basic civil liberties and on the reasonable expenditure of social energy” (White, 2014, Para. 3).

The words imply that legalization of this drug should be approached with much concern because the few documented effects of the drug will be more prominent with the increased use that will follow its legalization. The justification of the drug will also be followed by other legal issues such as the demand for the release of prisoners who have been arrested because of processing or using the drug.

Racial discrimination that is evident between different races in the US has also played a significant role in the debate of whether to legalize marijuana or not. The black population is reportedly incarcerated more than the white race, especially in relation to drugs (Short, 2014). Researchers claim that authorities use this drug to segregate this population to ensure that it is not successful in the society. Therefore, the latest moves towards the easing of the ban on the drug have followed the pressure for authorities to attempt a reduction of taxes that are used to maintain prisoners.

Some of the social issues raised by proponents and opponents of the legalization of the drug stem from the differences between the diverse races in society. Most of the proponents for the legalization of marijuana state that the drug has traditionally been used as a scapegoat by local authorities to ensure that the black population is controlled (Short, 2014). However, people who oppose the legalization of the drug cite the slave trade that many black people were involved in, which left them with nothing of their own. They were only allowed to work for their previous masters.

Some of the reasons behind the ban on the use of marijuana are political. Nations have attempted to control their political environments by regulating the practice that is common among specific parts of the population. Over the past few years, the majority of the population in the US has pushed for the legalization of marijuana (Hartman, 2013). The number of supporters is also increasing on a daily basis, with the politicians joining this quest for legalization of the drug. The strongest sign that the validation of marijuana is gaining popularity is the recent development in the states of Colorado and Washington where citizens have voted for the legalization and control of marijuana for recreational use (Short, 2014).

Strengths to the Change Process

The legalization of marijuana use for different purposes is associated with different effects to the society. However, some of them are positive. The main effect of the move to legalize the use of this drug is a reduction in the number of convictions. According to Hartman (2013), most of the individuals who have met the long arm of the government for processing and/or using marijuana in the US are disproportionally male blacks. If legalization of its use takes place, the number of imprisoned black individuals is likely to reduce significantly. The perceptions that there is discrimination in the arrests will also reduce by the day after the validation of marijuana.

The other strength with the legalization of marijuana use in different parts of the world and the US is the reduction in the size of the prisoner population. According to Hartman (2013), the US has one of the largest prisoner populations in the world. Over 25% of the prisoner population in the world is based here. Most states and nations spend significant amounts of money annually in the construction and maintenance of prisons and jails, with other public amenities such as the education system suffering from reduced financing (Hartman, 2013). The implementation of the proposed laws on marijuana will contribute towards lowering the money that is used to finance the prison systems

Other strengths that are associated with the legalization of marijuana include its medical and recreational use. This drug has centuries of use. In the period where it has been used, the effects on the individuals are not as bad relative to those of other legal drugs. Medical marijuana is increasingly being used throughout the world. Some researchers claim that medial uses can be passed to the general population. However, the disadvantages of the legalization of this drug include the significant negative health effects with which the drug is associated.

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Marijuana is associated with increased incidence of schizophrenia in a population that is greatly susceptible to the condition (Hartman, 2013). This situation has led researchers to believe that the drug has bad side effects on the central nervous system, and that it should not be used in any population. However, the truth of the matter is that the increase in schizophrenia is not significant in the general population. Alcohol and smoking are associated with greater morbidity and mortality as compared to marijuana use, with thousands of deaths occurring each year in relation to these drugs. However, most of the authorities have allowed the use of these drugs whilst making marijuana use illegal.

In the two states that have allowed the use of marijuana, the restrictions allow users to process only small portions of the drug (Hartman, 2013). Such users are also allowed to use the drugs in specific places, especially in their homes. Nevertheless, they should avoid public places where marijuana use is still prohibited. Currently, no nations have total legalization of the drug. However, the expectation is that nations that legalize it will increase by the end of the decade.

The relative deaths associated with alcoholism, smoking, and marijuana use.
Figure 2: The relative deaths associated with alcoholism, smoking, and marijuana use.

Relevant Article

As Short (2014) reveals, Michael Alexander is one of the authors who have written on the legalization of marijuana in the US and the impact that it has on the nation. The author focuses on the disparity that the ban on marijuana has had in the US, including the creation of a system to incarcerate one race. Alexander states that many of the imprisoned individuals and those who are under the justice legal system in the US are disproportionately black (Short, 2014).

The ban on marijuana emerges as one of the methods that are used by authorities to ensure that this population does not succeed in comparison with its white counterparts. Short (2014) asserts that the lifting of the ban on marijuana should be accompanied by an evaluation of the events since the drug was banned. The implications are that the legalization of the drug requires authorities to admit making mistakes. This step will be followed by a reconciliatory process where people who are affected by the ban, especially the young black males, will have their fortunes restored.

Alexander’s argument is that lifting the ban on marijuana use will mean that the majority of the population that has been arrested for offences, which are related to the drug, will have been wronged. This population will require a formal apology where the authorities apologize and compensate them for their troubles. There can be no replacement for time lost for the prisoners since some of them lost their families, friends, and bonds were broken. Alexander continues to state that the injustice that will result from legalizing marijuana can only be compared to the apartheid system that operated in South Africa, with the only remedy being reconciliation (Short, 2014).

In most of the states where marijuana is legal, the white population is benefitting from trade in this commodity while the black individuals before them suffer in prison. The solution that is offered in the article is to have offenders released in addition to the making reconciliatory efforts as evidenced in Jimmy Carter’s words,

Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marijuana in private for personal use… Therefore, I support legislation amending Federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce [28g] of marijuana” (Carter, 1977, Para. 26).

Carter projects that the trade in marijuana will increase in the coming years, with significant revenue being generated through the trade. However, this situation does not change the fact that most of the individuals who were imprisoned because of the trade are still in detention centers (Hartman, 2013). Any authority that will engage in the trade without reconciling the past and the present will fail in their attempts, thus leading to cultivation of racial segregation and possibly racial animosity.

Legalizing marijuana will strengthen one of the races while convicting the blacks to their low social status. Legalizing marijuana is a strategy by some of the authorities to reduce the expenses incurred in running large-sized prisons (Short, 2014). According to some individuals, the government and politicians are under pressure to downsize the prisons because they cannot handle the massive state prisoner population. Therefore, the attempts will lead to insufficient reconciliation between the authorities and the affected populations.


Marijuana use is prevalent in many parts of the world, despite efforts by different authorities to reduce its usage by outlawing the drug. However, medical use is common since thousands of patients who use the drug depict positive effects. The PREPARE and IMAGINE model has a wide application in social sciences. Its application in the assessment of marijuana legalization shows the likely effects of this measure. In the recent move towards the justification of marijuana use in the US and other parts of the world, a number of proponents and opponents have interacted. Unlike other drugs that have harmful side effects such as cigarette smoking, marijuana use is associated with few harmful effects (Mills, 2013).

The perceptions on the use of marijuana are changing around the world, with citizens voting to legalize the drug as evidenced in the states of Colorado and Washington. The prediction is that marijuana will be legal in most parts of the world by the end of the decade. The changes that are likely to take place with the legalization of marijuana include a reduction in the number of convictions and arrests.

The legalization of marijuana is a political and social issue that has significant effects. Grinspoon (2013) quotes the words of Richard Nixon saying, “Federal and state laws (should) be changed to no longer make it a crime to possess marijuana for private use” (Para. 1). These words evoke racial discrimination among different populations in the US, including the likelihood of unmasking some social injustices. Many researchers favor the legalization of marijuana use. Most of them claim that the benefits of the ban outweigh the negative effects.

The future is likely to have few nations that still have marijuana as an illegal drug. The effects include reduced number of convictions that are based on the drug. In conclusion, the legalization of marijuana is a social issue that has a number of sides and concerns. The legalization should follow due process that is accompanied by an assessment of the previous effects. Prevention of future discrimination based on the drug should include reconciling the past and present controversial matters. Individuals who were previously involved in the marijuana business should be adequately compensated if legalization occurs.

Reference List

Anderson, D., Rees, I., & Sabia, J. (2014). Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicides by Gender and Age. American Journal Of Public Health, 104(3), e1-e8. Web.

Carter, J. (1977). Drug Abuse Message to the Congress. Web.

Dyke, M. (2014). A State-by-State Look at the Future of Legal Marijuana. Web.

Grinspoon, L. (2013). 40 Years of Drug War Failure Represented in a Single Chart. Web.

Hartman, L. (2013). Legalized Marijuana and the Workplace: Preparing for the Trend. Employee Relations Law Journal, 38(4), 72-75. Web.

Jones, A. (2006). While Marijuana Kills no One. Web.

Mello, J. (2013). Employment and Public Policy Issues Surrounding Medical Marijuana in the Workplace. Journal Of Business Ethics, 117(3), 659-666. Web.

Mills, D. (2013). There are some causes, we admit, we don’t understand, and legalizing marijuana for general (as opposed to medical) use is one of them. First Things: A Monthly Journal Of Religion And Public Life, 2(229), 65. Web.

Short, A. (2014). Michelle Alexander: White Men Get Rich from Legal Pot, Black Men Stay in Prison. Web.

White, D. (2014). Marijuana Will Soon Be Legal ~ Stand By For the End of Prohibition in California. Web

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