Why We Should Legalize MarijuanaMagdalena DelacruzTri-CountyAbstract Marijuana, a substance that was used frequently during the colonial times, has taken a social downfall in recent times. Although it is still illegal to possess or use for any means by federal law, states like California and Arizona have taken steps in the other direction. The first known marijuana user dates all the way back to 2737 B.C. when Chinese Emperor Shen Nung wrote of the incredible euphoria he feels, and what he experiences after smoking marijuana (Guither). It caught on during the 1920’s. Some say this was because of the prohibition of alcohol, while others think that the jazz music culture brought it into the spotlight (Guither). Marijuana was distributed by pharmacies from 1850 to 1942, prescribed to patients for pain, nausea, and rheumatism. The perception of marijuana started to take its’ first turn for the worst in the 1930’s. Newspaper editor and political advisor William Randolph Hearst ran a campaign to expose the evils of “marihuana” in various newspapers (Guither). Notorious for libelous statements, Hearst’s campaign was still one of the main contributors to the “research” done by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics while passing the Marijuana Tax Act (Guither). The most recent update came in 1970 when marijuana was deemed a “Schedule I” drug with the Controlled Substance Act. This would mean that marijuana is put into the same category as heroine and LSD, and cocaine was less of a threat (Guither).Although some people believe that marijuana is highly dangerous and addictive, numerous studies report it is extremely beneficial for the body and mind. The infamous “gateway theory” has been studied many times, and was called “ambiguous” researcher Jacob Sullum. He gave three simple causes for the gateway effect, “1. Once teenagers break the law to try pot, they are less reluctant to break the law to try other drugs. 2. Once they discover that the government has been lying about marijuana, they are less inclined to believe official warnings about other drugs. 3. Once they buy marijuana on the black market, they are more likely to have the opportunity to buy other drugs” (Sullum). There is an obvious connection between pot smoking and other drug use because people who like the “high” that they get from pot, will enjoy a different “high” from another drug. However there is no connection between using marijuana and the desire to use other drugs. It is a matter of personality, environment, and personal influence. Even a National Academy of Sciences panel stated “There is no evidence that marijuana serves as a stepping stone on the bases of its particular drug effect” in a recent report (Sullum). Many other pro-prohibitionists have stated that marijuana is responsible for a long list of health problems. Although marijuana is connected to immediate lung problems like occasional coughing and phlegm production, and an increased risk for acute chest infections, there has never been a single tie to cancer. The results of studies linking marijuana smoking to lung cancer have also been hindered by small test sizes and subject bias, and the true results are saturated with unconfirmed studies and secret procedures with public results (Buddy). Marijuana is gaining headway with the most recent Gallup poll reported that 48 percent of the population supports decriminalization of marijuana, while another 48 percent oppose, and 4 percent are undecided. As past surveys will tell, this kind of nationwide support was hard to come by (Silver). Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, who works with alternatives to drug policies, commented on the increasing support marijuana is receiving in recent years. “The prospects for reforming drug policy have never been so good. The persistent failure and negative consequences of drug war policies, combined with the budgetary woes and the generational change are mainstreaming reformist ideas once considered taboo.” This revealing of facts, movements by politicians and independent organizations, and support from the public marks the start of a new age of marijuana reform, and it is only a matter of time before anti-prohibitionists see results. Marijuana should be legal because of its medical and economic benefits. Marijuana is the slang term for the dried bud of the Cannabis Sativa plant. Although the medical community has just recently started to study its medical benefits, it has been society’s medicine for centuries (Buddy). The medical potential for marijuana is very high and numerous studies report positive outcomes for a variety of diseases. From Alzheimer’s to Multiple Sclerosis, marijuana has solidified its place in the world of medicine (Buddy). Numerous studies report marijuana has positive effects on the majority of patients. Several recent studies, including one from the Scripps Research Institute, show that tetra hydro cannabinoid, the primary medicinal component of marijuana, can help slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease (Belville). Other studies show that marijuana can reduce intraocular pressure for people who suffer from glaucoma (Palmberg). Marijuana is also very commonly used as a pain killer, and the results of recent research bring back positive news. “In one study, 50 patients assigned either to cannabis or placebo finished the study. Although 52% of those who smoked marijuana had a 30% or more reduction in pain intensity, just 24% of those in the placebo group did” (Doheny). Countless medical marijuana studies boast positive results, while others don on the detrimental side effects. Paul Armentano of NORML, a frontrunner in marijuana legalization publicity, sees these detrimental effects as a “good reason for regulation, not prohibition” (Armentano).In an effort to stop the spread of traditional marijuana, the Food and Drug Administration recently approved a drug called Marinol. A synthetic tetra hydro cannabinol with sesame oil inside of a gel capsule, to treat the same diseases that medical marijuana could treat. Patients of a study done by Columbia University preferred smoked marijuana to Marinol. The patients comment that Marinol has a delayed effect, whereas smoked marijuana is instant, and is more effective (Belville).In addition to these medical benefits, the legalization of marijuana could also bridge the increasing budget gaps during this time of recession. According to NORML, an organization that has worked to reform marijuana laws for decades, marijuana tax alone could yield somewhere between 2.7 and 4.5 billion dollars (Gieringer). Miscellaneous other organizations have estimated that tax revenue on marijuana could produce between 10 and 14 billion dollars in revenue (Friedman). Whichever the case, the value of marijuana can be evaluated per the current market, which ranges based on quality and quantity. The average gram ranges around 10-20 dollars, (280-470 per ounce), with few exceptions. By way of comparison, NORML and various Dutch marijuana websites price weed in the Netherlands at about 6 American dollars per gram (Gieringer). Assuming that users would increase, and prices would deflate to somewhere around $6/gram, the marijuana industry could create national tax revenue in the range of 2.7 to 3.9 billion dollars annually, just from smoking-sales alone (Gieringer). In comparison to tobacco which brings in approximately 16 billion dollars in tax revenue, according to the studies done by the Tobacco Policy Center. Although marijuana is not projected to bring in as much money as tobacco just yet, there is still the likelihood of a growing consumer market for legalized marijuana. For Arizona alone, marijuana taxes would bring in approximately 13 million dollars per year based on the current amount of admitted marijuana users and their severity of their habits (Cnn.com). The prohibition of marijuana also extends to industrial hemp, which is illegal to grow in the United States. Hemp is classified by its’ THC concentration, industrial hemp is below .03 percent, whilst medical marijuana is between 10 and 20 percent THC (Adams). In short, hemp can be used to make over 25,000 different goods such as clothing, oil, and even fuel. Many of these products, if manufactured correctly, are more effective than their biggest competitor. Hemp fabrics are known to be softer, more water resistant, and more durable than cotton (Lloyd and Seber). All hemp products are resistant to heat, pests, and mildew. Now-a-days factories can even compress hemp to make building materials that are superior to wood in durability and cost (Lloyd and Seber). “Hemp will create jobs in the hardest hit areas of the country – rural agriculture, equipment manufacturing, transportable processing equipment and crews,” said Chris Conrad, a respected authority on cannabis and industrial help. Many researchers believe that it is this sort of community development that could avoid large corporations cutting into the bottom line (Colwell). Not only will the community be making money, products, and creating jobs; but saving billions every year. According to Rob Kampria, a writer at Alternet.com, the national war on drugs costs approximately 42 billion annually (Kampria). He suggests the United States Government could hire 880,000 schoolteachers (Kampria). Researcher Jon Gettman, Ph.D. claims that the government spends approximately $10.7 billion to enforce marijuana laws, and $31.1 billion efforts for prevention. He even emphasizes he may have understated the law enforcement costs (Kampria). According to NORML, California alone spends over 200 million per year to arrest, detain, and enforce marijuana laws (Gierenger). Although the citizens will not see that money if marijuana is legalized, it will more than likely go toward education, construction, and possibly even tax cuts for those cities who can afford it (Gierenger).The legalization of marijuana is arguably one of the most important events of the century. Major organizations praise the benefits of medical marijuana, and the economic benefits it holds. Although it has some drawbacks, medical marijuana has helped countless patients and will continue to benefit others. It is a simple risk vs. reward for each patient. A full legalization of marijuana could also bring in billions in tax dollars, save billions on law enforcement, and hemp spinoff industries make the possibilities to rejuvenate the economy endless. The government continues to deny marijuana as medicine, but the facts cannot be ignored. In this recession, marijuana legalization could be what the United States needs to restart its’ economy. Much similar to the alcohol prohibition of the early 20th century, marijuana could jumpstart the economy and create millions of jobs and billions in profits and taxes. Marijuana should be legalized because of its’ potential as a medicine, and its potential to become the “trillion dollar crop” (Guither)Works Cited Adams, Richard A. “The US Hemp Market.” DRCNet Online Library of Drug Policy. 2010. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. . Armentano, Paul. “Cannabis Smoke and Cancer: Assessing the Risk.” NORML.org. Web. . Belville, Russ. “Sanjay Gupta: What the NExt Surgeon General Doesn’t Know About Pot.” Alternet.org. 08 Jan. 2009. Web. 08 Nov. 2011. . Colwell, Dana. “Hemp Is Not Pot.” Alternet.org. 26 Mar. 2009. Web. 8 Nov. 2011. . Doheny, Kathleen. “Medical Marijuana: The Research Scorecard.” Webmd.com. 18 Feb. 2010. Web. 8 Nov. 2011. . Friedman, Milton. “500+ Economists Call for Marijuana Regulation Debate; New Report Projects $10-14 Billion Annual Savings and Revenues.” Prohibitioncosts.org. Web. 8 Nov. 2011. . Gieringer, Dale. “Benefits of Marijuana Legalization in California.” CANORML.org. Oct. 2009. Web. 24 Oct. 2011. . Guither, Pete. “Why Is Marijuana Illegal?” Drugwarrant.com. 8 Nov. 2011. Web. . Guither, Pete. “Why Is Marijuana Illegal?” Drugwarrant.com. Web. 08 Nov. 2011. . Kampia, Rob. “The War on Pot.” Alternet.org. 07 Oct. 2007. Web. 08 Nov. 2011. . Lloyd, Erwin H., and David Seber. “Bast Fiber Applications For Composites.” Hempology.org. 1996. Web. 28 Oct. 2011. . Miron, Jeffrey. “Projected Marijuana Tax Revenue.” Cnn.com. June 2005. Web. . Silver, Nate. “Gallup Poll Is First Plurality Support for Marijuana Legalization.” Nytimes.com. 18 Oct. 2011. Web. . Sullum, Jacob. “Marijuana as a Gateway Drug.” Reason Magazine 23 Jan. 2003. Literature Resource Center. Web. 18 Oct. 2011.