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A 2 pages term paper on Should Marijuana be legalized?


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     The issue of legalizing the use of Marijuana for adults has been under heated debate. In the first half of the century very small number of Americans knew about this addiction but since its use in the United States was first disallowed in 1937 the awareness about this drug has increased manifold. Similarly the number of users has also gone up as today around 70 million Americans admit to having tested once in their lifetime. A constant drug war of over a period of over 50 years has been unable to make a considerable difference in terms of use of marijuana. The ratio of marijuana users has continuously been rising especially among high school seniors. It is largely believed that an easy access to this prohibited product has contributed a lot in the failure to stop this trend.

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     Since 1970 more than 12 million people were arrested for possessing, manufacturing and distributing marijuana. In only year 2000 over 700,000 persons were apprehended in connection with the use or trade of marijuana. During the last 50 years almost all experts have recommended not to criminalize the adult marijuana users, though the cultivation _of even one marijuana plant is treated as a serious crime throughout the country. The terms of sentences vary from the offence to offence and from the state to state.  The minimum prison sentence for "distributing" or "manufacturing" controlled substances within 1,000 feet of any school, university, or playground is mandated. An estimated 60,000 marijuana offenders are presently said to be languishing in imprisonment. The clause of seizing money and property of marijuana-related accused under civil laws also stands and charges need not even be filed. The cost of waging war to curb the menace of marijuana users has to be borne by a common taxpayer. Approximately more than 9 billion dollars are kept in the annual budget for this purpose. Besides the afore-said negative aspects there are some positive elements too which go in favor to allow the use of marijuana, legalizing or decriminalizing it. Marijuana is also said to be a useful medicine in the treatment of AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and other diseases.

     Except for those patients who were exclusively allowed by the federal government to use marijuana as a medicine, all patients currently using medicinal marijuana are treated as criminals, the same as habitual users. Interestingly doctors are presently allowed to prescribe cocaine and morphine but not marijuana, though all fall under the same category. Despite a large support to allow medical access to marijuana the demand has been unfulfilled. Treatment and education are seen favored over persecution. A vast majority takes drug abuse as a public health problem, which should be dealt with prevention and treatment instead of being tackled as a crime problem.

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     A large number of people think in favor of criminal penalties for possessing marijuana for personal use and suggest imposition of small fines on the pattern of traffic tickets. However, they should neither be arrested nor detained. Maintaining a criminal record is also not advisable.

     The possession of marijuana is already decriminalized in 11 US states including California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon while cultivation and distribution still remain criminal offenses. A comparative study of the states with “criminalization” and “decriminalization” shows apparently no big difference at all on the marijuana use or on related tendencies regarding marijuana use among teens. According to statistics millions of American consumers of marijuana have less respect for the law and the criminal justice system. The prohibition of marijuana use also poses threats to millions of lives of those who use it. The marijuana purchased through illegal sources is generally less than the quality standards set for legal consumer goods. This is often adulterated with injurious substances; contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers and/or infected with molds, fungi, or bacteria. Another factor, which makes the consumption of marijuana more detrimental for human lives, is the inhalation. Inhaling burning vegetable matter worsens the respiratory system. The prohibition of marijuana use invites the notorious elements of crime world to take over marijuana trafficking besides causing violence.

“Apart from inviting corruption within the criminal justice system by giving officials easy, provoking opportunities to receive bribes, pilfering and selling marijuana, and putting evidence on innocent people, marijuana prohibition also creates a mixed drug market, which puts marijuana consumers in contact with hard-drug dealers. Regulating marijuana -- e.g., allowing adults to grow their own -- would separate marijuana from cocaine, heroin, and other hard drugs.”

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One common assumption is that marijuana prohibition reduces the availability of marijuana to adolescents. That assumption seems to be false. Prohibition has not made a dent in availability. Even now a large number of high school students say that finding marijuana is easier than that of finding beer. Similarly other common assumptions regarding deterrence and social disapproval have been proved wrong. Marijuana prohibition does not deter use, as very few people who do not use marijuana base their decision on a fear of being caught. In short, prohibition seems to have a very slight, if any, effect on preventing some people from using marijuana. Prohibition has unquestionably failed to prevent adolescent marijuana use. A common assumption is that the intensified "drug war" of the 1980s caused the decline in usage rates but it is not true as it is evident from the rates of the 1990s, when eve the harsher penalties remained in place.

To put it in a nutshell, this is not for sure that removing or decreasing criminal penalties appear to increase marijuana use or vice versa.  The question of legalizing it will always remain debatable.

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