Disclosure: The Sword and Shield, Amol Rajesh and affiliated partners do not endorse drug use and other related behaviors. Taking drugs for recreational purposes is a decision that could negatively effect a person’s life
In the news you may have heard about states such as Washington and Colorado legalizing the use of recreational marijuana. While this issue appears very controversial, this article is aimed at giving readers a historical and political perspective on the issue.
What is marijuana?
is Marijuana? The dried leaves and female flowers of the hemp plant, used in cigarette form as a narcotic or hallucinogen. Commonly referred to as “pot”, “maryjane”, “weed”.
When did using marijuana become illegal in America?
Although the plant was discovered in the 1600s, the American government only became aware of the side effects of marijuana in the early 1900s. State governments began to observe people becoming delusional and incoherent when they took marijuana. States began to penalize users of marijuana through taxes and fines. The federal government also began to take notice, and in 1930 the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was formed with the aim of eliminating all recreational drug use in America. In 1937 the Marijuana Tax Act was formed and made it effectively illegal to posses marijuana. In 1970, a more modern and revised form of this act was passed: The Controlled Substances Act. Ever since that act, the federal government has considered marijuana illegal in America and has gone to great lengths to prosecute individuals who possess even extremely small amounts of illegal substances
How does legalizing recreational marijuana use affect American society?
If the American federal government were to legalize recreational marijuana, it would have farreaching effects that could bring huge global change.
1.) Reduce violence
The fact of the matter is that currently, there are many violent gangs who illegally traffic drugs from South America to the United States and whose ruthless behaviors towards civilians and government officials have brought great suffering to the communities affected. Legalizing marijuana would in effect allow any certified business to sell marijuana freely. What does this mean? In essence it would greatly reduce violence and secret gang activities because drug cartels (gangs who sell drugs) would no longer have to resort to violent methods to overcome government restrictions and security forces. Instead, these people could sell marijuana as long as they obeyed the laws set in place for business and quality control.
2.) Principle of Liberty
The very idea that the American government should be telling its citizens what they can and cannot ingest is very questionable. Some people may feel that the government should have no say in the decisions an individual makes. To these people, legalizing marijuana justly supports the founding principles of this nation.
By legalizing marijuana, the government is regulating the drug trafficking industry. This means the government will add rules and taxes on the businesses who sell marijuana. In Colorado it is estimated that around an extra $50 million was generated just by taxing the marijuana industry. This extra money can be used to support government funded drug rehabilitation centers or other useful projects
Are there historical examples of similar events?
Many scholars have compared this current issue with alcohol prohibition in the 1920s. When social groups and the government observed that people who drink alcohol in excess tend to act foolishly and irresponsibly, the government instituted a nationwide ban sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcoholic drinks. The result was a large rise in violence and infamous gangsters, such as Al Capone whose main business was the illegal trafficking and selling of alcohol. More importantly the government began to discover that prohibition did not greatly reduce the demand for alcohol. In reality, many Americans were still drinking alcohol but were relying on illegal gangsters and bootleggers to supply it. Moreover, the ban led to great gang violence. The rule was repealed at the end of 1933. Today, alcohol is highly regulated.
Although there are good intentions behind the American government’s decision on making recreational marijuana illegal, there are major downsides to the current laws in place. The War on Drugs has caused the rise of drug cartels, violence, law enforcement spending and deaths. Also a lot of people who have taken drugs have been jailed for many years, which has cost society a lot of money. This is because it costs money to jail people and because people in jail are unemployed and do not contribute productively to society. Legalizing marijuana will enable people to make their own decisions without unnecessary government intervention, will likely reduce violence due to drug trafficking, and will reduce unnecessary costs to society
— Amol Rajesh