Legalization of Marijuana in the US: Pros and Cons

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Legalizing marijuana is a topic that has attracted many divergent views, making it to become controversial. In some jurisdictions in the United States and many other parts of the world, marijuana has been decriminalized, and people have been allowed to possess a specific maximum amount of the drug. The benefits of cannabis have been scientifically proven through rigorous research to ascertain the optimal amount that one can use to avoid its side effects (Ward 12). The opponents in this debate have cited the mental and physical health impacts that the drug can cause to the user’s body. However, with regulated use, the benefits range from boosting the economy through tax to medical applications for pain reduction during surgery. Although there are opposing views, the legalization of marijuana will generate more revenue for the government, create job opportunities for citizens, and save the money spent on sustaining the criminalization of the drug.

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Government revenue will increase with the complete legalization of marijuana due to the taxation of its sales, and this amount can be injected into other projects in sectors such as education and fighting other vices. The states that were first to decriminalize recreational use of marijuana have witnessed a boost in their economies. For example, in 2012, Colorado became the first state to allow this drug for recreational purposes. Since then, there has been a consistent increase in revenue, and in 2017, the state’s tax revenue was $247 million, and 32 more states have adopted decriminalization (Kim 3). The government can also get additional income from the issuance of permits to the drug’s sellers and their annual renewal. The money collected from the registration and taxation of marijuana sales has been redirected to support other sectors, including manufacturing, education, and healthcare. Elsewhere, Santos reports that as of 2021, Washington state’s operating budget has been boosted by 2% from pot taxes, amounting to $1 billion (para 1). Therefore, the legalization of marijuana can help increase government revenue and indirectly boost other sectors of the economy.

Moreover, the government can save the funds that were initially used to sustain the drug’s criminalization efforts. Much money is spent on equipping law enforcement agencies to arrest the drug’s users in the conservatism system. However, data from the research by Zvonarev et al. indicates a sharp decline in such apprehensions in the states that marijuana has been legalized (13). The money that was initially used to pursue, arrest, investigate, and persecute the peddlers and users has been saved. Thus, the criminal justice system is no longer under pressure to rush the cases involving cannabis use, and legal expenses have dropped significantly. Additionally, some people depend on marijuana for medical purposes, and legalization has seen a slight drop in the price due to commoditization, making it affordable, saving the cost. Therefore, medical consumers of marijuana and the government will save more money once it is completely legalized.

Furthermore, the decriminalization of cannabis will create investment and employment opportunities. For example, there has been an influx of job openings in the states that have legalized the drug. In Colorado, there was a 42% renewal rate of sales in 2017, while over 40,000 new occupational licenses have been issued in Maine (Ward 18). The industry has also attracted many investors since there are not many complicated procedures to practice the sale of marijuana, and they will employ many people for its distribution, farming, and transportation. Therefore, the legalization of marijuana is an excellent opportunity to tackle unemployment in the United States and across the world.

However, some quarters have argued against the legitimization of marijuana. Yu et al. argue that the decriminalization of the drug will cost more jobs than it will create (2). Their main position is that most jobs require applicants to pass drug tests, and cannabis users will fail and miss the opportunity. Moreover, there has been an ongoing opposition about the social demerits of using marijuana, and the leading one is that it causes mental illnesses and weakens motor execution, leading to accidents at the workplace (Zvonarev et al. 26). Therefore, the opponents maintain that the drug has adverse social and mental side effects despite the perceived economic benefits.

This opposing view regarding the legalization of marijuana is not comprehensive because it covers a limited scope of the drug’s effect. With decriminalization comes regulation, and the essence of the approach is to ensure only the appropriate amount of the drug is used for the proper purposes. When only a prescribed amount is used, the possibility of the side effects will be reduced significantly. Additionally, considering the states that have legitimized marijuana have enjoyed many economic benefits, its legalization will do more good than harm. The focus should be on how to eliminate any adverse effects.

In conclusion, many parts of the world have decriminalized marijuana, which has attracted several diverse opinions from many quarters. The benefits of authorizing cannabis use include increased government revenue through the taxation of cannabis sales, employment, and investment opportunities, and saving money used to sustain the criminalization process. The opposing viewpoint is on the drug’s effect on mental health and productivity at the workplace. However, with proper regulation, the margin of these adverse impacts will be reduced significantly. Therefore, the legalization of marijuana will be an excellent way of increasing government revenue to boost other sectors such as education, manufacturing, and healthcare, tackling unemployment, which has been a significant issue for decades.

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Works Cited

Kim, Gook J. “Examining the Predictors of Medical Marijuana Legalization in the United States Using an Empirically Based Taxonomy Approach.” Policy Studies, 2019, pp. 1-20, Web.

Santos, Melisa. “How $1 Billion in Pot Taxes Gets Spent in Washington State.” Crosscut | Washington State & Seattle News,  2021, Web.

Ward, Andrew. Cannabis Jobs: How to Make a Living and Have a Career in the World of Legalized Marijuana. Simon & Schuster, 2020.

Yu, Bin, et al. “Marijuana Legalization and Historical Trends in Marijuana Use among US Residents aged 12–25: Results from the 1979–2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” BMC Public Health, vol. 20, no. 1, 2020, pp. 1-10, Web.

Zvonarev, Valeriy, et al. “The Public Health Concerns of Marijuana Legalization: An Overview of Current Trends.” Cureus, vol. 11, no. 9, 2019, pp. 1-47, Web.

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