When I was in high school and college, the topic of marijuana legalization was a popular one. And for a long time I disregarded the people arguing for legalization. I really didn’t even listen to their argument, because everyone I knew who would take the pro-marijuana stance was someone who used the stuff.
I always saw a conflict of interest and felt like that clouded their judgement.
Well I’m here to take the pro-legalization stance, and I want to point out that I’ve never used drugs in my life. I’ve never smoked anything and have never been drunk (although my girlfriend argues it has happened once). I hate the feeling of some foreign substance clouding my thought process. You could legalize every drug in the world and I wouldn’t use one of them.
So why do I think it should be legal?
The Government Doesn’t Own Our Bodies
I made it very clear that I don’t want to use any drugs. But I also don’t believe the government has any right to tell me what to do with my body, so long as I don’t hurt someone else.
If the government can tell me that I’m not allowed in inhale smoke from a plant, then where does the government intrusion end? Can they tell me not to drink raw milk? (hint: yes)
Where does it stop? Dr. Pepper could make me fat. Cookies could help me contract type 2 diabetes. Candy could rot my teeth. Why aren’t these things illegal? Where oh where is the all-knowing and ever powerful government to save me from my own stupid self?
The government doesn’t own our bodies. We should have a right to make bad decisions when they only affect us.
My argument really ends there, but if you want more practical reasons then I have plenty of those for you as well.
It Will Save the Country Money
We can save money by legalizing marijuana because we wouldn’t have to pay for all these “criminals”. The US has more people in jail per capita than any other country in the world. 2/3rds of federal inmates are there on drug crimes. About 12% of all inmates (federal and state) are in jail on marijuana charges.
What if we didn’t have to pay the court costs for these offenses, or to build more jails to house these extra inmates? What if we didn’t have to use taxpayer money to pay for their food and clothing and everything else they get while in jail? What if we could hire less police officers and federal agents because there are less criminals to apprehend, or at least reassign them to more important tasks like stopping violent crimes?
We can also tax marijuana once it is legalized, just like we do alcohol and cigarettes. This will raise as much as $6.2 billion a year according to some economists.
Then let’s think about other implications. When people aren’t in jail, there’s a good chance they are working and paying income taxes. When you legalize marijuana, people are going to want to sell it. That means new businesses will spring up. These businesses will pay income tax. They will also hire employees who will pay income tax.
There are already small businesses (drug lords, marijuana growers) who are paying zero income tax and employees (drug dealers) who are paying zero income tax. Why are we letting these people avoid taxes?
It’s Already Easy to Get
41% of Americans admit to having smoked marijuana.
If anyone out there thinks the “war on drugs” has made drugs difficult to obtain, you live a very sheltered life. I have never even considered buying or using marijuana, and yet I know half a dozen people who could help me get some if I did want it. I bet I could have some within an hour after making a few phone calls.
If the goal of the drug war is to make drugs unavailable, it’s not working. If people already have access to the stuff, it makes no sense to keep pretending we can stop it by making it illegal.
If people don’t smoke marijuana today, I’m willing to bet it’s because they don’t want to; not because it’s illegal.
It Can Be Regulated Like Alcohol
As a final note, I want to make it clear that people shouldn’t have the right to take a mind altering drug and then jump behind the wheel of a car. Marijuana should be legalized and treated like alcohol; no smoking and driving.
Readers: If you think marijuana should be legal, what’s your reasoning? If you believe the federal government has a right to make marijuana illegal, I’d love to know why.
Thanks to Eric Rosenberg for helping me out with my topic today. If you want to tell me what to write next Wednesday, follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page!
Legalize and tax it. Then release all of the prisoners convicted of minor marijuana possession.
It’s no different than alcohol.
I agree with legalizing it. Have the government regulate it and make money off of it. Letting those in prison because of marijuana convictions will free up our prisons for those that actually should be there and will save the taxpayer money in every area from the police to the courts and prisons.
I think this idea of “all of the prisoners convicted of minor marijuana possession” is a misconception. http://www.prisonpolicy.org/scans/whos_in_prison_for_marij.pdf You don’t get locked away for having a joint on you. Even it’s easy to get, it would be much much easier and much more widely tried if not regularly used if it was legalized. I do agree though that the government shouldn’t tell you what you can put into your bodies. But the thing is, you can’t say you want to decide what goes into your body but then expect the government to cover your medical bills, job losses, housing, and other results of your decisions. I also think it should have the same rules regarding driving under the influence. Plus I’m not sure I want to go to a restaurant or a movie and have people who are high around me. Or be affected by second hand marijuana smoke.
Convenience stores check IDs, drug dealers don’t.
Well, for the God argument, say that it is a sin. So what? let God punish those who sinned against Him. The government doesn’t need to butt in unless somebody gets hurt.
Furthermore, we don’t arrest people for being drunk. We only arrest people who get drunk and hurt others. No crime, just morally stupid.
Again, cigarettes are completely legal. I don’t smoke. I could, but I don’t. Just like a lot of people.
There are so many “bullet points” that can be made for the legalization. I don’t smoke it.
Prohibition doesn’t work. Point blank, period.
This is an absolute “must-read” for you! http://lewrockwell.com/vance/vance283.html
Although I agree with all your points, I have a really selfish reason for wanting it to remain illegal. I HATE the way marijuana smells. In fact, I hate the way cigarettes smell. I’m really sensitive to it and can’t be around people at all when they are smoking. I already try to go out of my way to avoid people when they are smoking cigarettes, I really don’t want to have to do that with marijuana too. Second hand smoke is just disgusting.
I understand all of the legal points, tax discussions, etc and for those purposes, yes it makes sense to make it legal. However, I would hate to walk down the street and smell marijuana just as much as I smell cigarettes. Told you it was a selfish reason. 🙂
Cannabis smells foul. (I don’t understand people who like the smell…it’s sickly). You’re so right. I might have to rethink my stance…
Yup, totally selfish! At least you’re aware. 🙂
I just want to let you know that in Texas, you CAN be arrested for being drunk – it’s called Public Intoxication. You might think that walking home from the bar instead of driving is harmless, but you can still be arrested for it. I’m just saying, it can happen (and has happened).
You’re such a libertarian! I agree. I live in a state where there is a great deal of pot, and I live in a state where there is always a budget deficit. A tax on the growers would really help our state, and a tax on the consumers would too.
Let me preface this by stating that I too have never tried marijuana, and have zero intentions to start.
If you legalize it, you can tax it. Right now we spend TONS of money in a losing battle to secure the border between the US and Mexico (have you ever watched Border Wars on NatGeo?). There are estimates that 10-30 Billion dollars in drug money is smuggled back into Mexico every year, along with lots of weapons that helps fuel violence.
If we legalize marijuana, we can turn the drug cartels into legitimate businesses. We can charge import duty fees, and we can tax the sales of the final product. We can control the quality of what is sold, and reasonable use limits can be imposed on those who use the drugs. Heck even a 1% tax on 10 Billion dollars would help put a dent in our national deficit.
Turning the drug cartels into legitimate businesses should also help promote job growth for the Mexican economy, and hopefully a reduction in violence. There may be less people risking a dangerous journey trying to enter the US illegally in efforts to escape the violence, and to try to find work to feed their families.
Obviously keeping marijuana illegal has not stopped people from finding and using it (look how well that worked in the prohibition). We may as well legalize it and profit from it.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I am NOT in favor of legalization and I do have the bias of being someone who smokes it. The people who just look at the tax benefits are not seeing the whole picture.First of all, do we really want a greater percentage of the population high all the time? Unemployment rates would soar and productivity at jobs would drop. When it is illegal it at least discourages some people from ever trying it, enhancing their career potential.Then what happens to all the growers and dealers if the government takes over their major source of income? Do people expect them to suddenly change their ways and get a regular job? If they were fine flirting with the law before, they will likely move on to other ventures that do even more harm to society. Same goes for the smugglers, they’ll move on to smuggling worse things.The effect on youth could be a major problem too. Some of them are rebelling and want to try something illegal. If weed is legal, it loses some appeal to kids in that situation. So what do they try instead?As for taxes, I think people are being overly optimistic about its potential. The government wouldn’t instantly take over the whole market. Plus, people who drink alcohol instead have much more tax potential and some of those people would likely cut back on drinking to smoke instead. Instead of going out to bars to drop $100+ on dinner and drinks, they’re going to spend $10 getting high at home and maybe $20 on a pizza.Technically people should be free to choose what to put in their bodies, but the population as a whole is just not smart enough to do so responsibly. More people would be developing mental problems related to over indulgence. More people would be driving stoned.I could go on with more reasons why it shouldn’t be legalized. With the money involved, governments would jump all over this if it truly was a good idea. There are just too many negative implications though. Just look at how Holland is now clawing back their drug laws after experimenting with legalization.
I don’t use pot (but know plenty who do, and probably get a bit of secondhand smoke as a result). I just don’t get the appeal. I don’t need to be any hungrier, sleepier or dumber than I already am. So even though there is plenty of free weed around if I wanted it, I sure as hell don’t want any part of it.
Still, I don’t believe it should be a criminal offence and would support legalisation.
I don’t have a problem with people who do smoke but I do discourage it as it is still illegal and could thus affect their employment.
I will add that I am, unfortunately, only a couple degrees of separation from the national political party that campaigns on legalising cannabis (friend of friend etc). THEY ARE ALL F***WITS. It’s definitely not helping their cause.
Slightly off topic, recently there was uproar at the thought of the government drug testing beneficiaries. Something I totally don’t understand. If you want to buy drugs, I don’t care. But do it on your own dollar, not the taxpayer’s (and yes I know plenty of beneficiaries who smoke weed). It’s not discriminatory; many jobs require you to pass a drug test too.
Disclaimer: Every job I have held beyond high-school required drug testing. Even for my degree-program in college, random drug testing was required. I was able to do these things BECAUSE I’ve never played that game. Whether pot was “legal” or not would not change these requirements.
Ultimately, I don’t care whether it gets legalized or not. It *might* increase tax revenues – but I think that many who are currently in “that market” will suddenly find that it is an unprofitable business if everyone could just easily grow it in their own backyard. (And promptly move on to other, more profitable, illegal things). So… I think that the whole “taxation” thing is a non-starter.
The irksome part about jailing a user is that you take that individual out of society. I think the true cost of an illegal substance occurs here. IF the individual is smoking in a controlled, safe environment and isn’t putting anyone’s safely in jeopardy in doing so – what’s the net effect of taking a dependable worker, effective and present parent, away from his/her job and/or family?
I’ve met MANY F***WITS who have *not* been users as well as entrepreneurial visionaries who have. I don’t think that “usage” would change in either camp whether it was legal or not. Meaning: There’s a BIG difference between a pothead and someone who smokes.
I support legalization of all drugs. It’s all about freedom and the constitution. I do believe local governments can make some drug laws. But it is UNCONSTITUTIONAL for the federal government to be making such laws.
Yup! I quit smoking pot about 12 years ago, but I still don’t understand why it’s illegal. I also feel that any drug addiction/dependency isn’t an issue of law, but one of health, and should be addressed as such.
Ah, the marijuana debate; a classic, and one that always sparks a great deal of discussion. Since you asked, here are my thoughts on marijuana: I think we should legalize it (and I say this as someone who has never smoked it or otherwise indulged in any ‘Reefer Madness’). I think if you compare the problems with marijuana that are a result of the drug’s effects (the actual chemical effects of ‘getting high’, and then returning to your normal state of mind) with the problems caused by making the drug illegal (from funding gangs to funding terrorists to ensuring that no user can ever be sure that his pot isn’t tainted in some way), the former are much less disturbing than the latter.
(I’d actually like to see it go further, and would recommend legalizing ALL (or nearly all) currently illicit drugs. Most of the same arguments you make here, from already being possible to get for anyone who wants them to the cost of keeping people in jail whose only crime is doing nasty things to their own bodies, could just as easily apply to most other drugs. Rather than having them summarily banned by the powers that be, I’d much prefer to see individuals choose for themselves whether to use or not. For the more potentially hazardous drugs, I could see restricting them to access through pharmacies, requiring either a prescription or at least a bill of health saying the potential drug user was healthy enough for use; take the choice out of the hands of politicians and put it into those of medical professionals.)
Now, I doubt we’ll see any of this legalization any time soon; neither side of the aisle seems too interested in legalizing drugs, and more than a few politicians on each seem intent on, if anything, making the current rules even stricter. Still, perhaps with the right motivation, we can get that to change.
Sadly, weed isn’t illegal because it’s a drug. It’s just not good for BIG BUSINESS