Marijuana decriminalization would save a huge amount of taxpayers money that is currently being used on the enforcement of the laws on this drug. The government sets aside a large part of its budget for the arrest, prosecution, sentencing and incarceration of marijuana dealers, users and any other people taking part in the trade. These others include transporters of the drug, manufacturers and those selling drug tools. If these people were no longer classified as criminals, the agencies involved would reduce the processing tasks that are currently associated with those crimes. Many people are advocating for the decriminalization of marijuana and they believe that this will eliminate the illegal trade and the crime associated with it, become a valuable source of tax and reduce the policing costs (Miron, 2010). If the marijuana-related events are reduced or eliminated, there would be a big decrease in the agencies expenses. The federal government does not have a ban on the use of medicinal marijuana anymore, and it can now be sold without the federal governments interference (Harper, 2014).
Legalization of marijuana would give the police to more time for focusing on more important issues, like murder, terrorism and other crimes. It would reduce the taxpayers burden of housing the marijuana offenders. The population in American jails has grown rapidly over the past few years, including those on probation and parole. Many people are behind bars for marijuana use and they cost the taxpayer billions of dollars (The Federation of American Scientists, 1999). The number of people arrested because of marijuana charges is higher than of all the other violent crimes put together. These violent crimes are terrorism, assault, robbery, murder and rape. Those arrested because of marijuana have doubled while those arrested with cocaine and heroin has decreased. More than a million people are arrested each year on marijuana charges. The resources needed by the police are instead being used in marijuana cases and are taking money away from the more important issues. Decriminalization of marijuana would make the already exhausted resources available and save the country millions of dollars (E. Single et al, 2000). The US has a very high prison population compared to other parts of the world. If those housed for marijuana offenses were to be freed, the prisons would be less densely populated.
The state would not need to prosecute and house marijuana offenders. Funds are spent on prosecuting marijuana offenders while alcohol and tobacco, which are harmful substances, are readily accessible everywhere. Many people die yearly because of alcohol and tobacco-related issues, disorders and diseases. Legalizing and regulating marijuana will make the countrys largest cash crop to be recognized in the legal market. Jobs and economic opportunities will be created instead of on the black market. Profits to be made, especially in tax revenues, are very high in the marijuana industry. This industry pays taxes just like any other. The US makes billions of dollars annually from the sale of recreational and medicinal marijuana. The decriminalization might end the illegal sales of the drug. Crime syndicates would reduce because the kingpins would no longer grow, transport or sell marijuana because they would not be profiting. Organized crime usually benefits a lot from the illegal sales of marijuana. This money funds their other criminal activities. Once marijuana is decriminalized, many of these criminals will close their businesses or look for other sources of income to stay in business.
The increasing acceptance of the use of marijuana has created an interest from investors who want to make a profit in the industry. Some venture capital firms have started investing in marijuana, with huge returns. Many jobs have been created like the processing of concentrates, manufacturing edible marijuana, making and selling glass, growing and trimming the marijuana, having couriers to deliver the drugs, security and administration services, and software development that supports the industry. There is a large potential for startups and some non-profit organizations have dedicated themselves entirely to marijuana business people. They see that the fastest way to get the drug legalized is by empowering business people and startups by giving them education, showing them how to network, legal templates and providing marijuana-friendly funding ideas for the startups.
Courts are inundated with court cases that are dealing with marijuana possession and are causing valuable time to be lost and financial costs to be misused. If marijuana was decriminalized, the money and time spent on these cases would be better served in more important cases. The judges take up too much time deciding these cases instead of ruling on more important ones. The time spent in the courtrooms would be reduced for the judges who would then be well rested, enough to be able to give better rulings. Court clerks and other court staff would be less harassed for time and would therefore be able to make good judgment calls concerning cases that come before the courts.
The social stigma of marijuana has affected those who wish to apply for jobs although researchers have very little medical proof of serious health problems associated with its consumption. The drug was first stigmatized in Mexico due to the assumption that the drug was dangerous because of its links to violence and madness (Campos, 2014). The US adopted the belief by Mexico and stigmatized the drug, eventually conducting a war against the drug. Marijuana was stigmatized because it was linked to negatively perceived groups like prisoners and indigenous people. You will find that a reformed convict who has marijuana abuse on his record would have a hard time finding a job. Employers always assume that he will carry the habit into the workplace. Some communities are thought to be users of marijuana even though most of the population may not be users. A person from such a community can be denied employment by some employers who assume that substance abuse is common across the board in a certain community. Furthermore, marijuana was said to be consumed by prisoners as a stimulant that brought its savagery to the surface (Campos, 2014, pg 152). The funds recovered from the police arrests and court proceedings would be best used to address marijuana surveillance and prevention. As it is at the moment, most states do not have the funds to prevent marijuana use. The states provide very little funding for the staff surveillance and the convention of health experts. For example in Colorado, the department was given about $7 million from the state fund from July 1, 2014. This was used to fund personnel, do surveillance, purchasing of data and for state media campaigns (The Senate Bill, 2014). This money was not enough. The staff had to do more work in addition to their already existing duties.
Many people are judgmental towards marijuana users and would not willingly employ them, and yet they themselves love to drink and smoke. This is a double standard. There are drugs and vices that are far more deadly than marijuana yet they have no stigma attached to them. Alcohol was once prohibited, just as marijuana is now. In 1937, the prohibition was lifted and a new alcohol industry was born. Advertisements for alcohol are everywhere, very appealing and can be very invasive. But nobody questions it. Although it is not as popular as alcohol, marijuana is much safer than alcohol and it has actual medicinal purposes. People are willing to uproot their families and move across the country to Colorado for its medicinal value. That is why people question its illegality when compared to alcohol. People should not be denied jobs and opportunities because they use the drug, while alcoholics are given the jobs being denied them. They should not be socially stigmatized and viewed as criminals because they use marijuana. For example, a bus driver who uses marijuana recreationally might be fired from his job because of its use.
Campos, Isaac. 2014. Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexicos War on Drugs.
Dembo R, Washburn M, Wish ED, Schmeidler J, Getreu A, et al. (1987) Further Examination of the Association Between Heavy Marijuana Use and Crime Among Youths Entering a Juvenile Detention Center. J Psychoactive Drugs 19: 361373. doi: 10.1080/02791072.1987.10472424
Dembo R, Walshburn M, Wish E, Yeung H, Getreu A, et al. (1987) Heavy Marijuana Use and Crime Among Youths Entering a Juvenile Detention Center. J Psychoactive Drugs 19: 4756. doi: 10.1080/02791072.1987.10472379
E. Single et al. 2000. The Impact of Cannabis Decriminalization in Australia and the United States. Journal of Public Health Policy 21: 157-186.
Freisthler B, Kepple NJ, Sims R, Martin SE (2013). Evaluating Medical Marijuana Dispensary Policies: Spatial Methods for the Study of Environmentally-based Interventions. Am J Community Psychol 51: 278288. doi: 10.1007/s10464-012-9542-6
Harper, Evan (December 16, 2014). Congress quietly ends federal governments ban on medical marijuana. Los Angeles Times Nation. Austin Beutner. Retrieved April 4, 2015
Johnson. K, Chebium. R (2013) Justice Department won't challenge state marijuana laws. USA Today, Retrieved from:http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/29/justice-medical-marijuana-laws/2727605/
Levinthal CF (2008). Drugs, Society, and Criminal Justice (2nd Ed.). Boston: Pearson
Miron, Jeffrey A. The Budgetary Implications of Drug Prohibition. Harvard .edu 2010
Pedersen W, Skardhamar T (2010) Cannabis and Crime: Findings From a Longitudinal Study. Addict 105: 109118. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02719.x
The Senate Bill 14-215 (CO 2014)
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