As a non-user of marijuana, I find it interesting and unfortunate that many other non-users are opposed to marijuana legalization. My argument starts fiscally. Illegal marijuana is a net cost to society. It finances crime syndicates both in the US and particularly Mexico. Illegal marijuana also poses several direct fiscal burdens:
- Law enforcement costs to arrest and pursue marijuana use and sale cases.
- Expenses to incarcerate marijuana transporters, sellers, buyers and users.
- Cost of taking employed users away from their jobs and family.
Conversely, legalized marijuana provides fiscal benefits:
- Decreased law endorsement expenses. Law enforcement can focus on under-age (under 21) marijuana crimes.
- Decreased incarceration expenses. Freeing non-violent users (and sellers) from prisons will save tremendous sums of money. Further not incarcerating such people in the future saves money.
- Otherwise law-abiding individuals will retain jobs.
- Tax revenue can be collected on legal marijuana.
That is just the beginning of my supporting argument. Think of the other “Freakonomic” effects of marijuana criminalization:
- Drug violence in the form of turf wars and transportation route protection (esp. at border crossings).
- Financial support of other illegal enterprises, such as human smuggling and weapon smuggling.
- Lack of quality controls (regulations) leading to contaminated (with pesticides) and laced marijuana leading to sickness, disease and occasional death of consumers.
Please note that I am NOT advocating the use of marijuana, in the same way (as a non-smoker) that I do NOT advocate the use of tobacco! I avoid both because of their negative health effects.
However, I do use alcohol. I like microbrew beers, fine Scotch, and assorted other libations. I have done some research and have learned that 1-2 alcoholic drinks per day is an overall health-enhancing activity.
I liken marijuana prohibition with alcohol prohibition in a few ways. For example, both have lead to increases in organized crime and related violence. And both reduced sales tax revenues. Further, both moratoriums have lead to poor quality products… such as blindness induced by the lacing of ethanol with methanol during Prohibition.
Now I switch gears to the ethical arguments. I have seen a loved one die of cancer and cancer-induced starvation. Cancer and chemotherapy frequently leads to nausea and vomiting. These are miserable symptoms and lead to weakness and premature death. The 70-something person I refer to was a vital, strong and healthy person before cancer struck. He could do manual labor in his 70s that 30-year-olds would struggle to do. And his mental faculties were also razor sharp. Nonetheless his cancer deprived him of the ability to eat and retain food. This reduced his weight from a trim 165 pound pre-cancer 6’1″ frame to a sad 110 pounds. I personally believe, based on my research, that marijuana would have helped his appetite and nausea, which would have greatly improved his *quality* of life.
There you have it. Financial and ethical arguments for the legalization of marijuana. Note, I don’t couch the arguments in terms of medical marijuana… I speak in general terms. I have had friends and dare I say colleagues who have used marijuana. Some of whom have retained great talents and intellects. On close inspection I have seen their short-term memory impaired in a manner similar to that produced by overindulgence in alcohol. In my college years I have “babysat” many an alcohol overdose “patient” including one time we had to call 911. Conversely, I never had to “babysit” a marijuana OD person. My research confirms that anecdotal evidence. Cliff Notes version: “Alcohol OD bad, marijuana OD… virtually impossible.”
It makes no sense to make marijuana illegal. Tobacco and alcohol are arguably more dangerous… but society has wisely seen clear to regulate rather than prohibit their sale and use. Marijuana should be no exception.