The U.S. Must Legalize Marijuana

By Darcy Montana ‘18

Marijuana should be legalized in the United States. 26 states as well as the District of Columbia have made marijuana legal in some form, now it is time for the rest of the country to catch up. Marijuana use is a controversial topic, but in the end it can benefit everyone, not just those who use it.

Marijuana is a less harmful drug than those that are legal, such as alcohol and tobacco. According to a study done by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 88,000 people die annually from alcohol-related causes. Cigarette smoking has caused 480,000 deaths and 41,000 deaths from secondhand smoke annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, there have been no recorded deaths related to marijuana.

Legalizing marijuana would benefit the tax revenue. In Washington state, legalizing marijuana could bring in an extra $500 million in tax revenue. In Colorado, an extra $60 million was brought in through tax revenue.

The taxpayer would save money if marijuana were legalized. Marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers $41.8 billion per year.

Legalizing marijuana could also save the federal government a significant amount of money. U.S prisons spend approximately $1 billion annually on inmates incarcerated on marijuana-related charges.

Marijuana sales help the economy. Legal marijuana sale could be a $100 billion industry.

A single crop in California makes $14 billion per year, making it the state’s most successful cash crop. This also provides jobs for many people. Not only does legalizing marijuana offer jobs in the fields and in stores, but also in industries unrelated to marijuana, such as newspapers. The Sacramento News and Review saw an increase in ad revenue when it offered advertising space for over 60 medical marijuana dispensaries, which brought in more money and enabled the publication to hire more employees.

Marijuana helps to treat seizures as well. The cannabidiol found in marijuana bind to the brain cells that control excitability and regulate relaxation.

Marijuana also helps treat cancer. Cannabidiol stop a gene called Id-1, which is more commonly found in cancerous cells than non-cancerous cells, from replicating itself, which would allow it to spread through the body easier. It relieves the side effects of chemotherapy as well, such as nausea and pain. Marijuana can help relieve pain for people with arthritis as well as many other diseases.

THC, the active chemical found in marijuana, slows down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. It blocks the enzyme in the brain that forms amyloid plaques, which are what causes Alzheimer’s.  This is according to a study done by the Scripps Research Institute.

Although marijuana makes one hungry, it actually helps with weight loss. A study done by the American Journal of Medicine shows that marijuana smokers are skinnier than the average person because it speeds up one’s metabolism and allows the body to have a healthier reaction with sugars.

Although the drug makes short-term memory functions worse, it makes the brain more alert and sparks creativity. It has been proven that people are better at taking tests when high because their brain is able to come up with different words related to a concept, this also means that one’s verbal fluency improves when high. This comes from the release of dopamine in the brain which allows it to perceive things differently and become more relaxed.

On the other hand, people may argue that marijuana should not be legalized because it is a gateway drug. However, this is a misconception. The majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use harder drugs. Although, using marijuana can increase the chances of developing or strengthening an alcohol or nicotine addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse it does not cause one to want to try other drugs. Connected to the hypothesis that marijuana is a gateway drug is one’s social environment. A person who is vulnerable to taking drugs will most likely start with marijuana, cigarettes, or alcohol, because these are the most easily accessible drugs and from that point, the person’s social interactions with other people who use drugs will determine what substances they go on to try. This is mainly a problem with those who are exposed to drugs at a young age because they have a higher chance of being influenced by what others around them are doing.

There are safe and unsafe ways to use marijuana and if it were to become legal nationwide it would be important for children to learn how to use it the safe way because it could benefit them in the end.

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