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Legalization of Marijuana in Utah

Cannabis or marijuana is derived from the cannabis plant which contains several compounds
that are often used to create a drug for medicinal or psychoactive purposes. Common street
names for marijuana include, but are not limited to; grass, ganja, Mary Jane, pot, reefer and astro
turf. Marijuanas primary chemical THC, is a chemical that alters the brains receptors and gives
the users a relaxed feeling along with heightened mood and altered perception. There are several
forces behind the efforts or opposition to legalize marijuana including medical communities,
state government, and the law enforcement community. Marijuana has a long history with
Congress dating back to 1937 and again in 1970 when it was officially declared a Schedule 1
drug stating it had no medical value and a high potential for abuse. The crusade to legalize is
stronger than ever with many Americans believing it would be a benefit to all involved. Nearly
half (49%) of Americans say they have tried marijuana, and 12% in the past year, which the 2012
National Survey on Drug Use and Health says is the most commonly used illicit drug in the U.S.
The government survey showed that 18.9 million Americans 12 or older (7.3%) had used
marijuana in the prior month. (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/04/14/6-facts-aboutmarijuana/)
Why Legalize Marijuana
The intense debate over legalizing marijuana is a societal and moral conflict rather than a
rational one that focuses on the benefits of legalization. By legalizing marijuana in all states,
there will be significant opportunities for all citizens involved. The largest force behind
legalization is the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. During the marijuana tax act of 1937,
the American Medical Association and the Division of Mental Health tried in vain to keep
marijuana available for medical use. Alexander Stingl, a research consultant for the Institute of
General Medicine in Germany and professor of medical humanities states that cancer patients
often smoke marijuana to battle the nausea cause by chemotherapy. While some might argue that
marijuana is a gateway drug and lead to addiction, Philip Alcabes, Professor of Public Health at
Delphi University and consultant to many large health organizations points out there is also harm
with current drugs that are medically approved. A study published in the American Journal of
Public Health in June 2015 suggests that users of the sleep medication Ambien are in vehicle
crashes at higher rates than nonusers. Mortality attributed to overdoses of prescription opioid
painkillers has been increasing: it is now on the order of 16,000 American deaths per year. And
beyond the statistics and outside the emergency room, many Americansthe number is simply
impossible to estimateare dependent on psychoactive drugs in ways that make it hard for them
to make the best use of their innate capabilities.
The legalization of marijuana also has significant financial implications for the states and the
country as a whole. Jacob Sullum, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of SayingYes:
In defense of Drug Use, takes a look at the first six months of Colorados legalization of
marijuana. He states that although the prospect of more money for the government to spend has
always struck me as a pretty weak argument for legalization, Colorado is happy to have tax
revenue from the newly legal marijuana industry. The economic activity associated with the new
industry, including not just marijuana sales but various ancillary goods and services, is bound to
be much more significant than the tax revenue. Not only would the states and their government
benefit from the tax revenue, they would also save billions of dollars that are spent trying to
regulate the sale and use of marijuana.

The legalization of marijuana would also help to reduce crime. Contrary to


opposing views that state there would be more crime such as theft and
DUIs, there is a wealth of information on the effects of legalization on crime
rates. Mitchell Pickerill, Professor of American Government and Public Law
cited several agencies such as law enforcement, universities, hospitals, and
the FBI, show that marijuana related crimes have decreased in the areas
immediately surrounding dispensaries. An article from the Norwegian School
of Economics shows that legalizing the sale of marijuana drastically reduces
crimes related to smuggling. The researchers found a clear decline in both
theft and violent crime in the states that legalized marijuana and share a
border with Mexico. Much of the drugs that are sold illegally in the USA are
smuggled precisely through these states. Similarly, there is a significant
decrease in homicide and assaults from 1990-2006, during which 11 states
legalized medical marijuana.
Are we opening Pandoras Box
One of the main arguments against legalizing marijuana is the belief that drug use and drug
addiction would increase if there were no penalties. The War on Drugs that Richard Nixon
declared in 1971 evolved into something larger and more punitive. It sought to prevent cannabis
use by depicting marijuana as the gateway to harder drugs. (Alcabes) However, the National
Institute on Drug Abuse states that most people who use marijuana do not go on to use other,
harder substances. Also, cross-sensitization is not unique to marijuana. Alcohol and nicotine
also prime the brain for a heightened response to other drugs and are, like marijuana, also
typically used before a person progresses to other, more harmful substances.
(https://www.drugabuse.gov) In fact, there are several drugs that are legal in this country that
cause more physical harm and dependence then marijuana.
Conclusion
Americans like their drugs whether it is a cigarette, a pill that calms you down or an illegal
substance that takes away your pain. While there are some valid points that stem from the
opposition to legalization, most of those objections can be overcome with the benefits that
legalization provides? Why is it okay for us to take a pill that a doctor prescribes that is highly
addictive while cancer patients who smoke marijuana to ease their pain get arrested or socially
snubbed? Utah continues to progress with the medical cannabis bill and hopefully soon; the
State can reap the benefits of legalizing marijuana.

Works Cited
Rich Stingl, Alex K. Alexander. "Legalization of Marijuana." Salem Press Encyclopedia (2016):
Research Starters. Web. 5 Mar. 2016.
Alcabes, Philip. "Medication Nation. (Cover Story)." American Scholar 85.1 (2016): 20.
MasterFILE Complete. Web. 5 Mar. 2016.

Sullum, Jacob. "How Is Marijuana Legalization Going? The Price of Pot Peace Looks like A
Bargain." Forbes Magazine 10 July 2014.
Pickerill, J. Mitchell. "Medical Marijuana Policy and the Virtues of Federalism." Publis (208):
22-55
Ervik, Torill Sommerfelt. "Legalization of medical marijuana reduces crime." 2015.