Ellie’s Expression: Legalizing marijuana would benefit the U.S.

Eleanor Marshall
Opinion Columnist

Making marijuana legal would greatly benefit the United States economically and politically. It would also increase safety for its citizens.

This doesn’t mean I’m necessarily promoting the use of marijuana, rather explaining the advantages of its legalization.

The first issue with marijuana being illegal is the number of people in jail for it, especially people of color.
According to the ACLU, “Marijuana arrests now account for over half of all drug arrests in the United States. Of the 8.2 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88 percent were for simply having marijuana. Nationwide, the arrest data revealed one consistent trend: significant racial bias. Despite roughly equal usage rates, blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana.”

If marijuana was legalized, there would be fewer nonviolent offenders in jail, meaning Americans would pay less taxes to fund prisons. Police officers could focus on stopping violent crimes instead of people with a few grams of marijuana.

“Here (in the Netherlands), you don’t have to go to jail if you’re a marijuana smoker,” American psychologist Art Lecesse said. “The goal is to try to keep young people in particular away from the criminal drug environment that may get them involved with the harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin.”

According Department of Agriculture, marijuana is one of the nation’s largest cash crops. This means economically, it makes sense for legalization. State and local governments would gain a significant tax revenue from regulating sales.

It will also create safe, legal jobs for people who will pay their taxes and contribute to society, discouraging drug dealers.

All of these taxes could go to important things like public education and the military.
Finally, legalizing marijuana will make its consumers much safer. Product testing is becoming a requirement for legalized marijuana markets. This means no one will blindly use dangerous laced drugs. When marijuana isn’t laced, it is safer.

“In terms of its acute and long-term effects, marijuana is a remarkably benign drug,” Lecesse said.

Dr. Els Borst, the Dutch minister of health, said cannabis does not have serious health risks.

“People have died from tobacco and alcohol, from heroin, from cocaine, but never from (overdosing on) cannabis,” Borste said.

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