This I Believe; Marijuana should be legalized

Kimberly - Cleveland, Tennessee
Entered on March 27, 2009
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe that… marijuana is a misunderstood drug that is thought of as dangerous but, it isn’t . As a matter of fact marijuana is highly beneficial. Because of people’s ignorance and guliibility, marijuana has become illegal for all of the wrong reasons and should be reexamined for legalization. Over the years society has forgotten that there has been a culture behind marijuana since ancient times, and has been used by different ethnicities, for religious reasons of for spiritual and medicinal use.

Although marijuana has been illegal since 1913, when it was first outlawed in California for an obscured technical amendment by the State Board Pharmacy, there was never indication that marijuana was a problem.

More than 70 million Americans have smoked marijuana and more than 20 million have done so in the past year. As a result our prisons and jails are considerably over-populated with drug related crimes. There is a marijuana arrest every 43 seconds in the United States alone. There were 735,000 marijuana arrests in 2001 and this number increases every year.

Ironically, California was the first state to outlaw marijuana and the first to legalize it for medicinal purposes. At present there are 14 active “State Medical Marijuana Programs”. In these states the State law says those with medical prescriptions and medical professionals are allowed to posses up to one ounce and 6 plants, only 3 of which can be in “season” or “budding” at a time. However, Federal laws over-ride and oppose these state laws, therefore these people can be arrested and charged by a Federal Officer.

Despite the fact that it is illegal, domestically grown marijuana is number 4 of the top 10 cash crops in the United States. It is valued in excess of 10 billion dollars a year.

There are also some health risk myths and realities. Studies show that no one has ever died from a marijuana over-dose. Marijuana doesn’t produce harmful toxins that can kill, nor does it cause brain damage. Short term memory is only affected during “intoxication”, not before or after use. In fact studies indicate that marijuana provides symptomatic relief for a number of medical conditions. Alzheimers, Sclerosis, H.I.V., Hepititis C, Arthritis, Sleep Apnea, and many others. Patients and physicians have also reported that smoked marijuana provides releif from migraines, depression, seizures, and insomnia among other conditions. The relate being “stoned” to being relaxed and alert. That with all of the other benefits, how can the use of marijuana be considered wrong or dangerous? If it truly is a “gateway” drug, why don’ t we legalize it and by doing so, remove the gateway. After all, research has made it clear that it is safer, more benificial, and healthier than smoking cigarettes or drinking alchohol.

Amsterdam has shown us by example that legalizing marijuana would also be benificial to our economy and society as a whole. The Amsterdam government believed that by legalizing marijuana and making it manditory for medical personel to give paraphinalia out to chemical drug addicts, the chemical drug users would either change their drug of choice to marijuana, or kill themselves off by over-dosing or infections due to unsanitary living conditions. The harshness of this theory leaves it ethically questionable. However, the plan was to open “hash houses”, hand out syringes freely, and allow the possesion of up to 30 grams of marijuana. In turn they would decrease the spreading of diseases, lower crime rates, decrease prison population, and therefore lower tax rates. 10 years after these laws were put into effect these theories were proven to be true. Those who were chemically dependant had either died or changed their drug of choice to marijuana. The drug crimes had dropped unbelievably low. Disease rates were lower than any other country, and the economy was better than ever. If it worked for Amsterdam, doesn’t logic tell us it could work for us?

Many people who are pro-legalization of marijuana don’t even use it. Like them, I can see the positive effects it would have on our economy, public safety, and trillions of dollars going into programs for the people. I believe if America is smart they will look to Amsterdam as an example.