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Should Marijuana Be Legalized?

Sanya Saxena

Today, Marijuana is the most commonly used drug in the world with up to 125 million people consuming it (in some form or the other) per year. However, in many countries such as India, the consumption and production of this drug are illegal. There are many people around the world who believe the legalization of this drug would provide multiple benefits and argue that this drug should be put on the market. On the other hand, many stick to the idea that marijuana consumption is dangerous and highly addictive and that we should continue to prohibit its use.

There are various reasons why legalizing marijuana might not be such a bad idea, however, the reasons to keep it illegal may far outweigh any benefits of legalizing it.

Let’s dive into some reasons why this drug should or should not be made legal.

The “black market” has long been a term used to describe a platform where individuals may purchase goods that aren’t sanctioned by the government and that would be hard to find through legal channels. Marijuana is one of these abundantly available goods on the black market as this is the only place where most people can purchase it from. Marijuana legalization (or decriminalization) will replace the black market production and distribution with a legitimate industry. There will be rules and regulations and the trade will be populated with government-sanctioned individuals, honest businessmen, farmers, and merchants and retail clerks, not by criminals or drug dealers.

Furthermore, by legalizing and taxing marijuana, the government will stand to earn huge amounts of revenue that will otherwise go to the Italian and Israeli drug cartels. In an open letter to US President George Bush, around 500 economists, led by Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman, called for marijuana to be "legal but taxed and regulated like other goods".

The legalization of marijuana would also create jobs for many people and boost economic activity. It is likely that these new jobs would be the result of the quickly growing industry that would spring up across the World. Workers would be needed to farm, process, distribute, and sell marijuana-based products. Opportunities for secondary industries that are related to legal cannabis although not directly involved in its production and distribution would start popping up. These might include software developers, financing services, construction companies, and many others. Finally, another reason why legalizing marijuana might actually be a good idea are the medicinal benefits it has. Marijuana is actually known to be quite effective at curbing chronic pain. Marijuana contains cannabinoids, which are chemical compounds that can provide relief to chronic pain as a result of their chemical makeup. Marijuana can also regulate and prevent diabetes. With its impact on insulin, it only makes sense that marijuana can help regulate and prevent diabetes. Research conducted by the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (AAMC) has said that marijuana can stabilize blood sugars, lower blood pressure, and improve blood circulation.

Now let’s look at some reasons why legalizing marijuana might not be such a good idea. The first reason is the amount of damage legalizing marijuana can do for society. The first major reason is that marijuana is incredibly addictive. According to Dr. Drew Pinsky, a board-certified internist and addiction medicine specialist, people who are addicted to cannabis, cocaine, and alcohol have the most difficult time giving up cannabis. If marijuana is legalized chances are addiction rates will go up and along with that will come a myriad of withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, nausea, chills, and stomach pain. A second con of legalizing marijuana would be the commercialization of the drug. It is possible that Commercialized marijuana will create a Marijuana industry that will look to exploit people for profit and target children. There are already multiple companies like Big Tobacco, which marketed cigarettes using ads that appealed to kids, even using the joe camel cartoon character. Finally, another major reason why marijuana should perhaps not be legalized would be that growing it is actually severely detrimental to the environment. Marijuana cultivation results in deforestation, soil erosion, habitat destruction, and river diversion. Marijuana requires nearly double the amount of water needed to grow grapes or tomatoes and taking this water directly from rivers and streams in the summer not only reduces the water available for agriculture but also threatens many wildlife species. The legal indoor growing of the drug is also harmful as indoor growing requires a lot of electricity for lighting, heating, and ventilation. This could produce an amount of greenhouse gas emissions equal to the amount produced by 3 million cars each year.

There are both pros and cons to the legalization of marijuana and there will never be unanimity on whether this drug should be legalized or not but it is still important to look at the facts and the arguments of both sides and make our own decisions on whether we believe the legalization of marijuana is something that could improve our world or harm it even further.