The topic of marijuana legalization has been discussed for more than a decade with multiple arguments supporting and contesting the idea. Furthermore, there is some evidence that can be employed in the discussion: in several countries, including Portugal and the Netherlands, real-life experiments took place, the results of which should be investigated. Based on such data, it can be suggested that marijuana legalization is likely to have multiple beneficial effects while most of the anticipated negative outcomes cannot be traced back to it reliably.
A major argument for the legalization of marijuana is that it is profitable and, therefore, can bring money to the government if it is taxed (“Legalization Will Reduce Crime” par. 2). Additionally, the prosecution and imprisonment associated with the illegal trade are costly (Schuster par. 3; Szalavitz par. 2). Therefore, apart from generating revenue, the legalization of marijuana might reduce related costs, which makes it a profitable decision.
Because of its profitability, the prohibition of marijuana makes it linked to illegal activities. Trafficking is a major problem that has cost the world many lives, but there are other issues as well, for instance, corruption (“Legalization Will Reduce Crime” par. 4). Furthermore, a comparison of marijuana to legal drugs, including, for instance, alcohol, can be made (“It’s Time” par. 3). Multiple attempts to criminalize alcohol indicate that such actions tend to produce crime rather than limit it (“Legalization Will Reduce Crime” par. 6). While the finding is not related to marijuana, it can be used to support the idea that the legalization of a drug might reduce the crime associated with it.
The fate of the people who take marijuana should also be mentioned. It is more convenient for governments to ensure their safety and treatment if marijuana is legal as shown by the example of Portugal (Schuster par. 1; Szalavitz par. 2). Additionally, without the stigma associated with drug use, it may be easier for the people who use marijuana to preserve their families, which tend to suffer when the drug is considered illegal (“Legalization Will Reduce Crime” par. 4). Thus, the outcomes of marijuana legalization for its users appear to be positive.
When considering the arguments made by the people who oppose legalization, the following ones are of interest. The opinion that the legalization will increase the use of drugs may be supported by some evidence. For example, there have been reports about the increasing number of registered addicts after drug legalization in the Netherlands (Schuster par. 5-9). However, this outcome does not mean that the number of addicted people has increased; it merely implies that those of them who would not register before legalization can now be treated. Additionally, the example of Portugal suggests that despite the initial growth of the number of addicts in it after legalization, the lifetime use of drugs in the country has decreased (Szalavitz par. 6). Similarly, the fact that organized crime in the Netherlands has increased between 1988 and 1993 cannot be traced back to legalization (Schuster par. 5-9). A correlation between events does not imply any causal relationship. In summary, the evidence indicating that an increase in the number of addicted people or crime might be the effect of marijuana legalization is not uncontested.
Furthermore, an opinion has been voiced that the legalization of marijuana and its taxation may result in the government promoting marijuana (DuPont par. 7-8). However, this argument can be easily refuted with the help of the real-world examples of alcohol and smoking: the government discourages people from using them despite them being taxed. After all, the costs that are associated with an unhealthy population are likely to overshadow the benefits that the government might gain from a tax (DuPont par. 12). Therefore, this outcome is also unlikely to be an effect of marijuana legalization.
Naturally, the people who oppose the legalization also cite the health effects of marijuana use (DuPont par. 13-17). Indeed, there is a possibility of growing addicted to the drug (Munsey par. 16). Additionally, the studies of people with a life-long addition indicate that they may be less academically and economically successful (Munsey par. 35). However, people proceed to use marijuana despite the prohibition, which means that the negative effects of marijuana abuse are not an outcome of its legalization, especially since the latter may result in the reduction of the number of people taking the drug (Szalavitz par. 6). Furthermore, it is established that more research is required to produce recommendations on the medicinal use of the drug, as well as the therapy for the addicted, but marijuana prohibition hinders such studies (Munsey par. 31-32). Therefore, one of the effects of legalization would be the increase in marijuana-related research, which would help to combat its adverse effects.
In summary, the likely outcomes of marijuana legalization include the reduction of costs, an increase in taxes, a drop in crime, and the improvement of the quality of life of people with addiction. The evidence to the ideas that marijuana legalization can increase crime and the number of addicted people is controversial. Additionally, the research of the drug will become easier to conduct if marijuana is legalized, resulting in an improved understanding and less dangerous use of the substance. Marijuana is not safe, but its decriminalization seems to be able to make its use safer. Thus, while some issues and concerns can be cited, the anticipated effects of marijuana legalization appear to be mostly beneficial.
“It’s Time to Have Good Debate on Legal Marijuana: Our View: Less Drug Trafficking, Crime Are Possible Benefits of a New Approach.” Arizona Daily Star, 2009, Web.
“Legalization Will Reduce Crime, Free up Police Resources.” CNBC. 2011, Web.
DuPont, Robert L. “Why We Should Not Legalize Marijuana.” CNBC. 2011, Web.
Munsey, Christopher. “Medicine or Menace: Psychologists’ Research Can Inform the Growing Debate over Legalizing Marijuana.” Monitor on Psychology, vol. 41, no. 6, 2010, pp. 50-55.
Schuster, Eli. “To Legalize or Not; Decriminalizers Point to the Dutch Experience, but There’s a Dark Side to Holland’s Permissiveness.” Infotrac Newsstand. 2001, Web.
Szalavitz, Maia. “Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work?” Time. 2009, Web.