There is major debate taking place all over the world over whether to legalize marijuana or keep it listed as an illegal drug. The ongoing debates have led to the development of the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy amongst other social groups that are pushing for the legalization of marijuana. This is a serious topic that takes a balanced approach in order to reach a rational decision.
Weighing the Social Costs Associated with Marijuana Usage
To get a better grasp of the social costs linked to marijuana usage it helps to keep an open mind. Our society as a whole has been indoctrinated to presume that marijuana is a bad drug and should be avoided at all costs. This indoctrination didn’t happen overnight but is the culmination of several decades of advertisements and criminal prosecutions of individuals who are using marijuana. It would stand to reason that it will take time to realize that this drug, when properly used can provide many positive benefits to an individual and society in general.
If we looked back at the prohibition era where alcohol was outlawed it showed that law-abiding citizens will break the law if they want something bad enough. During this era, the criminal underworld began to establish itself with millions of dollars going to fuel the public’s demand for alcohol. If we flash forward to our modern era there is virtually no social stigma associated with consuming alcohol so it stands to reason that marijuana will also follow suit.
Marijuana was often cited as a gateway drug that will lead to people consuming more powerful drugs like cocaine, heroin, and a host of other controlled substances. While that has been a claim made by individuals and organizations against the legalization of marijuana, the facts do not support those claims. There are millions of people in this country who consume marijuana either for medicinal or recreational purposes and are not actively using “hard drugs”. If we look at countries that have legalized marijuana like the nations in Europe, we notice that there has not been a rapid spike in the number of people who are using hard drugs.
If the government legalized marijuana it would force the criminals out of the economy and divert precious capital into the hands of legitimate businesses which can collect taxes from the proceeds of marijuana sales. Aside from the positive economic benefits that are linked with the legalization of marijuana is that once it becomes socially acceptable people will be less likely to abuse it.
The majority of people who become addicted to drugs start consuming it in their youth. Take smoking for example, if a person doesn’t start smoking by the time they are an adult they are not likely to become a smoker. One of the reasons that young people pick up the addiction of smoking is because it’s against the law, if smoking was made legal then it would lose some of its peer pressure appeal. The same reasoning could be applied to consuming marijuana. The Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy is just one of the many groups that are trying to have a mature conversation about why society should legalize the responsible use of marijuana.