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Decriminalization Of Marijuana Essay

1513 words - 7 pages

Some of the biggest problems that our society is facing are the issues that are resulting from our nation’s current drug policy. Each and every day there are hundreds of stories that run in every local newspaper that tell of lethal violence that occurs as a result of gang confrontations over drug related issues. Many people believe that problems related to drugs are only affecting inner-city residents and low income citizens, but the truth is that the drug problems are actually are affecting everyone, both drug users and non-users alike. It is my belief that the negative effects we associate with drugs would be greatly reduced if the United States would adopt a policy towards the total ...view middle of the document...

Hemp is similar to cotton, but instead of fibers grown from the cotton plant, the fibers come from the center stalk of the cannabis plant. It was so useful to the colonial settlers that early Jamestown colony law declared that all settlers were required to grow cannabis.
There was no regulation of the drug or cannabis plant for over 100 years, until 1906 when the District of Columbia began to regulate the use of the drug, and in 1913 California became the first state to completely prohibit it, which soon triggered many other states to follow suite shortly after. By 1937, the federal government passed the Marihuana (original spelling) tax act, which made the possession or transfer of cannabis illegal throughout the United States, excluding only medical and industrial uses, in which case an expensive excise tax was required. Following years would bring tighter and tighter regulations on the drugs use, including: mandatory jail sentencing, fines, three-strikes laws, and many more (Cannabis (Drug)).
Regardless of the laws in place, marijuana became a popular drug in the youth movement of the 1960’s, commonly known as the “hippie” movement. Marijuana became a symbol of a counter-culture and youthful rebellion, and as a consequence, marijuana use rose for the next ten years. Ever since that time, marijuana has been the fourth largest recreational drug in the United States right behind Alcohol, Caffeine, and Tobacco. Following the Vietnam War, in which many soldiers and citizens alike developed strong addiction to heroine and other hard drugs, President Richard Nixon officially declared a “war on drugs”. At a press conference Nixon names drug abuse as "public enemy number one in the United States" (Thirty Years of America's Drug War). Each year since the creation of the war on drugs, the government has spent more and more fighting this war which many people question should have even been waged. For example, the U.S. federal government spent over $19 billion dollars in 2003 on the War on Drugs, at a rate of about $600 per second. The budget has since been increased by over a billion dollars (Drug War Clock, 2010). Over the last 20 years, each succeeding president continued to escalate the drug war. This policy has obviously done nothing to stop the recreational use of drugs in this country, and on the contrary it is causing great harm. It's time to try something new.
Decriminalizing marijuana would have a wide range of benefits to the nation, our state, and local governments. First and foremost would be the ability to tax the sale of marijuana and produce revenue. By legalizing marijuana, the government would also save the money it currently spends fighting the war on marijuana. The federal government spends $19.2 billion every year in fighting the war on drugs; and state governments combined spend about $77.8 billion every year in this effort. Conservatively estimated, 20 percent of the government's war on drugs expenditures...

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