Legalization of Marijuana – Anything Good?
Cannabis Sativa commonly referred to as marijuana has been one of the most popular drugs for many centuries and it is still grown in many locations in the world. It is mainly known for its psychoactive effect as it has an ability to change mood and consciousness, but some scientists see advantages of its usage. Thus, this drug has created many debates around its legalization. Thereafter, the aim of the following paper is to give objective proof that it should not be legalized not because of personal insight, but based on pure facts.
First, it is important to mention that financial benefits play a huge role. Strictly speaking, microeconomics is a set of models that is constructed in a certain way so it would help to see how scarce resources are allocated and used by alternative users and the role of markets and pricing in this structure. Commodities or goods and services are the economic activity’s central objects as economic activity is made of exchange and production of commodities (Gravelle & Rees, 2004). Marijuana is a ‘commodity’, the sales of which would have a certain economic impact.
First, it is important to have a look at the current situation. It seems that a critical turning point is related to the war against drugs that has failed. This was the conclusion made by Martin Jelsma during the Drugs and Democracy Program conference in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, the Senate of Uruguay approved the law on December 10, which concerns not only the issue related to marijuana legalization, but also its legal sale and production. This was not a decision made for the first time by the government as some states of America, such as Washington and Colorado, legalized recreational marijuana usage back in 2012. However, Uruguay is the first country to do that. This means that in the first quarter of 2014 citizens of Uruguay were able to increase the amount of marijuana plants up to six operational plants, joined authorized clubs, or legally bought around 40 grams of this drug for their personal use. The Head of the National Drug Board in the country Julio Calzada mentioned that the price for 1 gram would be equal to $1. It costs the same for drug trafficking from Paraguay. This is done purely from the economic point of view to remove traffickers from the market as the local price will be cost-effective and sales from that will bring profit to the state treasury. The other reason is to decrease the level of crimes related to illegal drug trafficking.
The original idea to implement such law in Uruguay dates back to 2012 when the Ministry of Defense report was published. This is a political issue as the government might have wanted to look more favorable among citizens. It declares marijuana production and sales legalization as one of the measures to reduce crime. The idea was born together with the bill. Attention from the media was the next step in the law’s implementation. The President of the country also supported this idea and even people gathered in front of the Legislative Palace in favor of that. However, the opposition did not approve it and unanimously spoke out against the act, but, being a representative of the minority group, could do nothing against the General Assembly’s decision to implement this law. Those who do not agree as they find it extremely dangerous and unconstitutional still fight for a referendum to be held.
According to the survey conducted by the polling group Equipos Consultores, 58% of the country’s population is against the law. Moreover, after the same research was conducted in June, that number increased up to 68%. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is also concerned as sale and distribution of drugs for any other purpose than medical is a clear violation of world conventions. Still, the government of Uruguay considers implementation of the law to be a correct decision. It points out that the law is not intended for increasing the level of drug’s consumption and the idea of the bill is to decrease the level of crime in the country (H.C., 2013).
Nevertheless, it raises a very serious problem that many societies face today. For instance, one may look at the scenario and decide what legalization of marijuana will mean to the economy. Marihuana has an equilibrium price. If sale and purchase of the drug become legal, what will happen to the supply and demand of marihuana? Once the sale becomes a legal activity, there is a huge possibility that those people who used to farm corn or other things will switch to marijuana production as it is more profitable and has more customers in the market, which means that marihuana supply will rise. If there are no other changes, the price will fall, but this is unlikely to happen. There is a direct correlation: if the drug is now legal to be consumed, it can lead to an increase in demand and the price will possibly become higher for this reason. Hence, the curve related to marihuana demand and supply would move to the right (Arnold, 2010).
Based on the explanation above, it is clear that legalization creates growing demand and supply and if marihuana distribution were claimed to be an illegal process again, it would lead to creation of a black market that the government would find hard to combat. However, price may also increase as it is hard to sell the product now without legal implications. Therefore, this has a direct impact on pricing.
Moreover, the question whether marihuana legalization can help decrease the number of crimes is also controversial. Many people claim that laws related to prohibition of drug usage are an example of the infringement of freedom and the government loses a huge sum of money every day in order to fight drug-related crimes and black market. If marihuana distribution were legalized, it would mean that dealers were to come out of the shade. Thus, the government could make its own regulations and restrictions related to marihuana sale and supply would be definitely enforced on the legal level. Those who oppose claim that it may destroy any nation as people would no longer see any obstacles for consuming this drug and any losses that the government faces, such as fewer taxes or waste of money to combat the crime, are worth taking in order to prevent the massive spread. This also has a direct impact on all campaigns that are implemented on a social level in order to increase public awareness that marihuana is harmful (Hartnett, 2005).
This is a clear controversy from the legislative point of view as the debate is about making the nation follow policies that are against drug usage and deal with advanced science that shows positive impact of marijuana usage in medical treatment. Still, possession and consumption of marijuana are a federal crime and Colorado and Washington have to follow the same rules. This creates a legislative contradiction and the Obama Administration has good arguments that are against such things. Legalization of marijuana would definitely lead to increased distribution among minors, bringing revenues to gangs and growing this plant legally in public locations. From the legal point of view, amendments issued by Colorado and Washington are correct, but from federal point of view they are inconsistent and based on the possibility that the government will look into three general classes of preemption where the Congress has a right “to preempt all related state laws, no state laws, or only select state laws”. Moreover, amendments of the Colorado law have been playing another harmful role in relation to court decisions as courts could not achieve any ruling in cases related to serious drug-related issues due to controversies in law. Thus, legalization of marijuana will turn bad for its dealers and ‘legal’ users. It would automatically put “stigma” on those people and they will likely not be allowed to purchase or carry firearm as they would become unwelcome to live in many neighborhoods and would be refused employment. The government would have to spend even more money to build special houses or create more legislative rules to protect those people, which is absolutely absurd (Garvey & Yeh, 2014).
One should also have a look on another prospective that is purely new. The American Public Journal of Health has published a new survey that claims that legalization of marijuana has a positive effect, which can decrease suicide rates by as much as five percent in all age groups and by 10 percent among youngsters. The co-writers of the study are professors from Montana State, San Diego State, and the University of Colorado at Denver, who have taken 17 years of statistics as a basis of their analysis. States where marijuana is legalized have not taken into consideration with a time span from 1990 until 2007. Thereafter, the statistics revealed correlation to lower suicide rates among men in those states where the drug had been legalized. The other argument was also that marijuana’s opponents name numerous cases when people might start suffering from depression, psychosis, panic attacks, and even suicidal ideation, but forget to mention such an important factor as personality. The negative correlation might also be observed as men often use marijuana to cope with stressful circumstances. The same can be told about alcohol that might have much more serious consequences, which means that this topic requires further studying (Pursell, 2014).
Thus, mentioned studies have not been proved with time as adverse effects of the cannabis smoking have. Besides mental and physical health deterioration and alteration, it has a negative effect on occupational and social functioning. Thus, this is a well-known fact, but it might be claimed that cannabis has a certain positive impact in the medical area though this might be related purely to some of the components that are a part of its chemical ingredients. However, the positive impact of its components is understudied and cannot be fully claimed to be miraculous. Usage of medical cannabis also leads to increased rates of decriminalization and inhalation of smoke decreases protective levels of the immune system, increases heart rate, has a carcinogen effect, and leads to liver damage and problems with the endocrine system (Svrakic et al., 2012).
Thereafter, it is clear that legalization of marijuana would lead to the creation of multimillion industries of producers and sellers that would only care about getting profits just like it has happened to the tobacco industry. Official consumption would definitely lead to drug increase as more money would be asked and more addicts would appear. Children and adolescents, who have limited access to cannabis, would be more harmed by marijuana legalization as then it would not be a problem to get drugs. Public costs would increase as, despite the tax revenues, the number of accidents would become higher. Moreover, the black market would still successfully function as legalization would trigger formation of cooperation among gangs and ‘dirty’ government workers. If to look at Holland or Portugal, nothing good has come out of cannabis legalization as the numbers prove that this drug consumption has increased by 300%. Statistics of Colorado is also not good as consumption among teens has increased by 50% and the number of fatal car accidents among drivers who have marijuana elements in their blood has got higher as well (SAM, n.d.).
To conclude, it is important to mention that by buying and using marihuana, a consumer gets a legal right to use it in public places, in the presence of children, etc., which is not acceptable. On the one hand, situation in Uruguay shows how the government has reacted to uncontrolled marihuana smuggling in the country. On the other hand, the Senate might just use that argument in order to justify the possibility of getting more profit to the treasury by collecting taxes from farmers who grow cannabis. Moreover, the issue is likely to turn into a quite serious one as the number of those farmers can drastically increase. As a result, other agricultural branches may suffer, which will have a negative impact on the country’s economy. From the legal point of view, it is impossible to have laws that allow legalization in certain states that would comply with the federal level. Politically, it might not be good as the government is there to protect people, but not to create laws that would favor increasing of crimes. Damaging health effects are beyond any discussion. Thereafter, legalization of marijuana would be a big threat to public health; it will eventually result in higher costs (healthcare industry and people protection) and it would not solve social problems (such as the black market or lowering of the price).
Arnold, R. A. (2010). Microeconomics (10th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
Garvey, T., & Yeh, B. T. (2013). State legalization of recreational marijuana: Selected legal issues. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved from //www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43034.pdf
Gravelle, H., & Rees, R. (2004). Microeconomics (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Hartnett, E. (2005). Drug legalization: Why it wouldn’t work in the United States. The Police Chief, 72(3). Retrieved from //www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display_arch&article_id=533&issue_id=32005
H. C. (2013). Weed all about it. The Economist. Retrieved from //www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2013/12/uruguays-cannabis-law
Pursell, R. (2014). Studies claim medical marijuana may reduce suicide rates, traffic fatalities. Retrieved from //www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/studies-claim-medical-marijuana-may-reduce-suicide-rates-traffic-fatalities/
SAM. (n.d.). Top 10 marijuana legalization issues. Smart Approaches to Marijuana. Retrieved from //www.une.edu/sites/default/files/SAMs_IssuesRE_MJ_Legalization.pdf
Svrakic, D. M., Lustman, P. J., Mallya, A., Lynn, T. A., Finney, R., & Svrakic, N. M. (2012). Legalization, decimalization & medical use of cannabis: A scientific and public health prospective. Missouri Medicine. Retrieved from //www.msma.org/docs/communications/momed/Medicinal_Use_Cannabis.pdf
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