The Legal Battle over Marijuana use

Modern marijuana laws in the United States are absolutely unnecessary and in fact, do far more harm than good. Marijuana is quite possibly the most benign regulated drug in America. In fact, statistically, marijuana is less harmful than a wide number of legal drugs readily available at every grocery store, convenience store and drug store in the country. For instance, acetaminophen, commonly marketed as Tylenol, is responsible for over 400 deaths annually as well as literally thousands of emergency room visits per year. By comparison, it is essentially impossible to overdose on pot. There have been 0 recorded, confirmed deaths by THC overdose in all of written history. In the year 2000, the Center for Disease Control estimated there were 85,000 deaths attributed to alcohol, making it the 3rd largest killer that year in the United States. Thus far, it has been absolutely disproved that marijuana is any more dangerous than most legal drugs.

Perhaps an equally more important factor when considering the legal status of marijuana are the effects it has on its users, which are far less dangerous than those of alcohol, in my opinion. There are such a wide variety of effects of alcohol consumption, depending on the person, their mood, type of alcohol consumed, etc, but the high obtained from marijuana is generally fairly consistent, with a few variables such as the type of marijuana consumed (i.e. indica-which produces a body high, and sativa-which creates a “heady” high), the way it is consumed has a slight effect (joint, bong, pipe, eaten, etc), but the overall experience is typically the same for most users. Whereas alcohol commonly makes people violent and belligerent, marijuana tends to make them far more relaxed and much less prone to violence. It’s far too common to hear of someone getting drunk and beating his wife, or getting into a fight, or even killing someone. Incidences like these are practically unheard-of among pot-smokers. In fact, according to the National Commission of Marijuana and Drug Abuse, commissioned by President Nixon in 1972, “Rather than inducing violent or aggressive behavior through its purported effects of lowering inhibitions, weakening impulse control and heightening aggressive tendencies, marihuana was usually found to inhibit the expression of aggressive impulses by pacifying the user, interfering with muscular coordination, reducing psychomotor activities and generally producing states of drowsiness lethargy, timidity and passivity.” This statement proves that marijuana is actually far safer than alcohol.

In the past few years, almost every myth, statistic, and lie the government has endorsed about marijuana has been disproved. Recently, a massive study showed that smoking pot does not contribute to cancer, as was previously believed. Research done in 2003, proved, against expectations, that smoking marijuana actually has little-to-no, effect on cognitive function in the long term. This again, flies in the face of everything the government would have us believe. Numerous studies have found driving under the influence of marijuana to be less dangerous than driving drunk. All the evidence completely contradicts the US government’s policy on marijuana.

Armed with all the practical and scientific information, perhaps we should evaluate the issue from a purely economic standpoint. First, the prison situation. In 2005, there were a total of 1,846,351 drug-related arrests. Of those, only 786,545 were for marijuana. Slightly less than half of all drug arrests were for the least dangerous of illegal drugs. Comparatively, there were only 603,503 arrests for violent crimes, whereas there were 1,367,009 violent crimes actually reported. So less than half of the perpetrators of violent crimes were apprehended, but the police still had time to arrest 786,545 people for marijuana? And of those 700,000+ people arrested for weed, only 90,471 were for sale or trafficking, leaving 696,074 locked up simply for misdemeanor possession. There were 401,326 robberies in 2004, yet still, more people were locked away for smoking pot. The average cost per day to house an inmate in prison seems to be around $45 a day. That’s over $35 million a day to house all the people arrested per year for marijuana. Which adds up to nearly $13 billion dollars a year to house marijuana offenders. Allow me to remind you that these are people convicted of nonviolent crimes, and the police can’t even catch half of the violent criminals on the streets. Why waste almost 13 billion dollars a year on people who haven’t hurt anyone. That is a massive misappropriation of funding from the government. And in spite of it all, marijuana use continues to rise in this country.

Obviously, marijuana laws in the United States are absolutely useless. The government has spent literally billions of dollars to crack down on marijuana use, all to no avail. They have done nothing to curb marijuana use, and instead, have overcrowded our prisons with criminals who haven’t actually harmed anyone, leaving less space for violent offenders, who are far more deserving of it. Despite the best efforts of the government, marijuana is now the most valuable cash crop in the United States, further proof that marijuana laws are ineffective. And regardless of the effectiveness of the laws, why should marijuana be regulated in the first place? It has proven medical value and it is proven to be less harmful than many legal drugs, to include nicotine, alcohol and caffeine. The most basic issue has to be, however, isn’t it our right to consume it if we wish? It’s my body, and I don’t think the government has any business telling me what I can or can’t do with it.