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The Legalization Of Marijuana

The Legalization Of Marijuana In the 1960s, Humbolt County, CA was in a state of recession. The countys main form of industry (logging) had all but closed down, and the residents were facing a countywide depression. However, by the early 1980s, Humbolts economy was flourishing. Although the expansion couldnt be found on the reported per capita income, somehow money was being spread throughout the economy. Where did this money come from? Humbolt County is a perfect spot for marijuana to be grown, and it was the money that the growers had been making that was keeping the economy going. After the government began to heavily enforce drug laws in this area, the county went back into its state of depression, and the financial aid that the marijuana growers could have added to the economy was disposed of (Rosenthal, p.

37). Although the legalization of marijuana might have some adverse affects on the economy, the pros of legalization far outweigh the cons. There are many economic reasons proving that legalizing marijuana would help our economy, some relate directly and others indirectly. The first thing that one must look at when considering the pros of legalization would have to be the direct benefits. The direct benefits are going to be the astronomical amount of money the government would make in taxes, sales etc.

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(Marshal, p. 92). First of all, if marijuana were legalized the first thing that would happen would be a drop in the price of the drug. The price would drop due to the fact that it would no longer have to be sold on the black market (Rosenthal, p. 38).

The cheaper price and greater availability would mean increased usage. It is estimated, that if marijuana were legalized, and prices were dropped a fair 50% and usage increased only a little bit, marijuana sales could gross anywhere from $50-$53 billion dollars (Rosenthal, p. 39). That right there is a huge amount of money that would no doubt aid the United States economy. However, there are other direct benefits to consider.

The $50-$53 billion would only come from sales alone. The government could make more money by charging vice, manufacturing and state taxes. It is believed that taxes and fees such as these would gross about another $7-$10 billion (Rosenthal, p. 39). Many other benefits could also be directly related to the legalization of marijuana. If it were legalized, it would create a whole new industry. And of course, this new industry would need employees, which means more jobs for the unemployed (Maertz, Jim interview w/ Ms.

Wara, 10/29/98). Also with this new industry would come the ability to legally export this drug. Due to the advancements in American farm technology it is believed that we would become main exporters of marijuana. Rather then spending about $5-$7 billion per year on illegally importing the drug, legalization would probably generate about $60 million to $1 billion dollars, and at the same time save that $5-$7 billion spent on importation. The legalization of marijuana could help balance the U.S. trade deficit (Rosenthal, p.

42). Obviously the direct affects of legalized marijuana would aid our economy. However, the indirect benefits of legalization would also help dramatically. If marijuana were made legal, it would send economic ripples throughout the U.S. that would create a better economy (Marshal, p. 83). For example, related paraphernalia would see an increase in demand (i.e. pipes, bongs, etc). More money would be spent on these or items like these, which means a better economy (Rosenthal, p. 39).

Another factor we must consider, would be hemp. Hemp is a non-psychoactive form of marijuana; the only reason it is outlawed is because it is similar to marijuana in some aspects but not all. The only real reason it is against the law is to make enforcing marijuana laws easier (no gray areas of the law). But hemp has many practical applications in the world today. Hemp contains the one of the strongest fibers in the plant kingdom; it could be used for either industrial or commercial applications.

It is also used to make a non-deteriorating paper, that is pollution free. After pressing hemp seeds, the result is a good animal feed; in central Asia it this seed has even been used for human consumption (Rosenthal, p. 42). There are countless economic ripples such as these that would help out the economy, but when looking at the economy as a whole, we cant only look at how much we bring in. It is obvious that both direct and indirect revenues would aid our economy, however, we must also look at the amount of money we would save if marijuana were legalized. Of course the legalization of marijuana would mean the cost of drug enforcement would drop (Marshal, p.

92). More than 20 federal agencies are involved in the enforcement of marijuana laws, and legalization would mean that these agencies would not have to spend as much on drug enforcement. The government spends about $30 billion dollars per year trying to fight marijuana; if it were legalized, this money could be spent on better things like education. The cost of arrest and conviction of violators is also very high (Thompson (ed.), p. 157). It can cost up to $450,000 dollars to keep an offender in jail.

In the book Why Marijuana Should be Legal it adds up the total cost as follows: Arrest/Conviction: About $150,000; Additional prison bed: about $50,000, depending on the jurisdiction; Annual prison expense: about $30,000 per year (Avg. sentence of 5 years), thats another $150,000 (Rosenthal, p. 43). And thing of how many marijuana cases there are per year! All of this money save could be put towards better things (Rosenthal, p. 43).

There is also the loss of productivity to consider. When a drug offender is arrested, he must take time off of work to go to court and handle all of his legal affairs. Believe it or not, 82% of arrestees for marijuana possession have jobs. So, when using an average salary of $19,228 per year and about 30 days of lost work time, the loss of productivity adds up to about $1.1 billion (Rosenthal, p. 45). Money that is spent on marijuana law enforcement could be better spent on things like violent crime, or education (Marshal, p.

93). The fact is the government would save billions if marijuana were legalized. Although revenues and savings would add up to a huge amount of money, there are a few reasons that opponents think marijuana would be bad for the economy. As with every controversial issue, there is always an opposition. But in the case of legalized marijuana, the economic benefits are much greater than the losses, despite what opponents try to argue.

The biggest reason why opponents are against the legalization is because of medical costs (Maertz, Jim Interview w/ Ms. Wara, 10/29/98). They believe that, like cigarettes, marijuana would cause many medical problems, which in turn would lead to more money having to be spent on medical treatment (Thompson (ed.), p. 172). Theres no denying the fact that marijuana would cause lung problems, and that would mean more medical expenses. But consider this: In 1980, due to health care/loss of productivity the combination of all drugs (not just marijuana) cost the U.S.

$29.4 billion; however, due to health care/loss of productivity alcohol cost the U.S. a whopping $79.6 billion (Marshal, p. 64)! When it comes to health care, alcohol is a much bigger problem. And even if we took the cost of medical aid and productivity loss ($29.4 billion) of all drugs, and subtracted it from the total gross revenues of just marijuana (not including indirect profits), we would still have a profit of about $33.6 billion dollars! Opponents also argue that legalization would mean more marijuana addicts (Rosenthal, p. 39).

They argue, if there are more marijuana addicts, there are going to have to be more costs involved for treatment programs. Although it is not proven whether or not marijuana is addictive (Marshal, p. 99), the likelihood of the number of treatment programs having to increase is probably pretty good. However, it is inestimable how much would be needed to finance these programs; but one could be pretty sure that it wouldnt be $33.6 billion, the amount that legalized marijuana would put into the economy (after subtracting medical/productivity costs for all drugs). Finally, opponents also argue that legalization would cause more reckless driving, pregnancies, fights etc. However, according to a study by drug policy scholar Mark Kleiman of UCLA he concluded that alcohol is the drug that people are most likely to get pregnant, commit crimes, get in fights or drive recklessly. (Thompson (ed.), p.

190). Although some of the arguments brought up the opposition are true, when added together with the earnings generated by sales alone, the evidence is indisputable. The legalization of marijuana would no doubt help the economy. Directly or indirectly, profits would soar. Businesses would be helped, new industries would be created and the government would be able to spend billions that it had either received from taxes or saved from trying to enforce an unreasonable law.

Economically speaking, legalizing marijuana would help our economy dramatically. Bibliography A 4 page essay discussing why the legalization of marijuana would aid the U.S. economy. Social Issues Essays.


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