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Giorgos Vasilopoulos
Dr Thomas Melville
College Writing And Research
February 3, y

One of the most controversial issues today relates to marijuana and the potential
legalization that is now closer than ever before. It has been the reason for extensive
researches, countless surveys and heated debates between economists and politicians.
Recreational use of marijuana was first introduced in the U.S. after the Mexican
revolution in 1910. Its existence as a legal substance throughout the world was
terminated at the dawn of the twentieth century, while the possibility of returning to its
legal state, before the end of the century, is very high if the political momentum keeps
up. However, it has the singular distinction of being both a commonly used illegal
substance and also a legally prescribed medicinal substance in some states. Since
1996, fourteen states have reauthorized its use for medical purposes or decriminalized
its recreational use. Brazil, Netherlands and Portugal are some of the countries which
have decriminalized the use of marijuana throughout their borders, while many more
countries including the United States are taking it under serious consideration. Colorado

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and Washington are the first two states in the United States that voted in November of
2012 for the abolition of the laws rendering the marijuana as a non legal substance.

Marijuana is the most commonly used recreational substance in the United States. The
interesting aspect of it is, why has not been legalized yet? The current drug laws are
doing more harm than good. Legalizing marijuana would be beneficial for the country in
many ways.
The war on drugs is leniently expensive. Every year the United States
government spends large amounts of money to enforce laws against marijuana use.
William Buckley, a college professor in Columbia college, admitted on a national
television show in 1973 to smoking marijuana and said Pot is harmful, but people
should not go to jail because of it (Buckley,1A).
Based on information from the Uniform Crime Reporting Program of the Federal
Bureau of Investigation, marijuana arrests consist of 5.54% of all arrests. Nearly eight
thousand American citizens were arrested in 2005 on marijuana charges and 44,480 of
them were imprisoned. According to those statics by the U.S. Department of Justice's
Bureau of Justice Statistics, American taxpayers are now spending one billion dollars
annually to incarcerate its citizens for pot. Jeffrey A. Miron, a Harvard economist, in his

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report The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition explains that marijuana
legalization would save at least eight billion dollars per year only from expenditures on
prohibition enforcement (Miron, 4). His report was approved, singed and proposed to
the United States President and Congress by more than three hundred economists,
including three Nobel laureates. Moreover, Jon Gettman in his study Lost taxes and
other costs of marijuana laws confirms Mirons research. He also points out that
marijuana costs taxpayers 41,8 billion dollars every year.
The reason for the multiple studies and the different outcome of each is that
nobody can know for sure how big the marijuana market is. It is extremely difficult to get
reliable information about an illegal substance. An important question to consider is,
How much money is made from this single illegal substance?
The real answers are somewhere inside the bands of all published studies,
Gettman says. It would be interesting to see what the government would do with
another 42 billion dollars (Gettman, 37).
According to recent figures there are 25 five to 60 million marijuana users in the United
States. Information from countries that have already decriminalized the use of the
substance, such as the Netherlands and Canada, suggest that every cigarette cost
about ten dollars. Assuming that the average person smokes one cigarette per day, the
marijuana industry could raise from 40 to 100 billion dollars in just a year (Easton, 1).
Miron reports that if marijuana was taxed similarly to alcohol and tobacco it could
generate at least 8.7 billion dollars in tax revenue annually.

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Washington and Colorado, the only states in the United States that have
legalized the recreational use of marijuana, will serve as a test to measure the potential
impact of it in national level. The state of Washington estimates that in just five years
from now it will generate as much as two billion dollars due to the legalization of
The Office of National Drug Control Policy disagrees with those studies by saying
that tax revenue from marijuana would be offset by other higher social costs, just like
alcohol and tobacco. Currently, 185 billion dollars are spend on alcohol-related costs on
health care,lost productivity and criminal justice when only about sixteen billion is
collected in taxes.
In addition, legalization means wider availability and lower prices which would result in
increasing use. This raises another important question about the impact that the
legalized drug could possibly have on public health.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that every year 374,000
people enter an emergency room due to marijuana. This figure will increase drastically if
the availability of the product becomes wider. Illegality helps reduce the consumption
and acceptance of cannabis while it also keeps the prices higher.
On the contrary, studies has shown that there was only a 0,5% increase in
marijuana users from 10,2% in 2005 to 10,7% in 2011. The legalization would do little, if
nothing, to increase the use among the citizens. Also, economists suggest that instead
of putting public health at risk, marijuana could have a positive impact on public health.
Jonathan Caulkins and three other drug policy scholars in their book Marijuana

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Legalization: What Everyone Need to Know, discusses the positive features of the
substance. Based on multiple researches scientists discovered that marijuana is a noncarcinogenic substance unlike tobacco. Furthermore, it does not cause brain damage,
genetic damage, or damage to the immune system. Some scientists note that the active
ingredient in the cannabis plant, known as Cannabis Sativa, may not be addictive but it
can result in dependence after long term use. Also experiments are underway to define
if cannabis can cause bronchitis. Herbert Kleber, on his research states that this is only
a proposed theory and unproved at todays date (Kleber 139).
Unlike alcohol and tobacco, cannabis does not kill brain cells or induce violent
behavior. Nobody smokes marijuana and then beats their spouse and children, nobody
loses their kidneys, their liver or their pancreas no matter how much cannabis they
consume. The fact that there are no deaths directly caused by marijuana is remarkable.
In fact there are more deaths caused by aspirin rather than cannabis.
On the other hand, alcohol has killed thousands of people since this morning.
Almost two million people die annually because of alcohol and another eight million
because of tobacco. It is ironic how the given effects of marijuana inhabit also in alcohol
and tobacco, yet they are legal.
Aaron White studies adolescent alcohol use at Duke University Medical Center,
as he said parents should think twice about offering alcohol to teens because their

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brains are still developing and are more susceptible to damage than adult brains. If you
are going to do that, I suggest you teach them to roll joints, too, he said, because the
science is clear that alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana (Aaron, 1).
Another argument that is debatable is either or not the legalization will reduce
crime rates and violence. Today, it is easier for a 12-years-old to buy illegal pot than a
six-pack of beer. Drug dealers will not hesitate to sell to anyone, including children.
Many high school students report that it is easier to obtain illegal drugs than tobacco
and alcohol. In addition, federally-funded surveys indicate that despite the large
amounts spend on law enforcement, marijuana has remained widely available over the
last 25 years. The Monitoring the Future Survey estimates that at least 2 out 5 eighth
grade students, 2 out of 3 tenth grade and 4 out of 5 high school seniors find marijuana
widely available. In contrast, government-regulated liquor stores can legally sell alcohol
and tobacco, but they are not allowed to sell to children. Surely, even the most hardcore
enemies of the legalization would agree that violence would be dramatically reduced
due to the elimination of drug dealers and gangs, while at the same time, it would deal a
massive blow to drug cartels.
Over the past years, many credible minds conducted huge researches about the
outrageous spending on enforcing marijuana laws and the medical potential of the

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substance. All of them have come to the same conclusion, which is that the legalization
would be profitable from any point of view.
We can relate the current situation with the alcohol Prohibition in the 20s. It took
50 years for the U.S. government to bring the Prohibition and only 11 to get rid of it
(Easton, 1). No one could guess that the Prohibition would fail on such a large scale,
like marijuana laws have today.
All this information taken from important people and influential minds indicate that
the legalization of marijuana would drastically boost the economy of the country and
form a more productive society through thousands of new jobs that would be created.
Only the cultivation and distribution of the product would create thousand jobs around
the country.
Undoubtedly, the medical importance of the substance is undeniable, studies
have proven that it is effective in reducing nausea, vomiting and that it can stimulate
the appetite. This could help in cancer treatment. Moreover, the legalization would
enable scientists to freely experiment with it and potentially find a life-saving cure. Our
medical treatments will never totally effective without the unconditional legalization of
the cannabis.

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Finally, it will play a crucial part in terminating the illegal drug business, providing both
children and adults a safer society without drug dealers in the streets and schools.
Tobacco,alcohol and even obesity are responsible for thousands of deaths everyday, yet
it is legal to smoke tobacco ,drink alcohol and eat as much as you want without being
illegal. The worst part is that, no one really cares. Instead, the government fights this
extended wasteful war against marijuana. It is time for the government to realize how
important the problem is and take immediate action.

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Work Cited
Buckley, William. End the Pot Penalties. The Washington Star News. Web. 10 Nov.
Jeffrey, Miron. The Budgetary Impact of Ending Drug Prohibition. Cato Industry 2010.
Kleber, Herbert. Marijuana-Health Aspects. The Columbia University College of
Physicians and Surgeons Complete Medical Guide. Web. Edition 3, 1995: p.139.
Easton, Stephen, Stutman, Bob. Legalize Marijuana for Tax Revenue: Debate Room 2009. Web.
Marijuana Legalization 2013. Web.
Gettman, Jon. Lost Taxes and Other Costs of Marijuana Laws 14
June. 2007. Web.