The Question of the Legality of Marijuana | Teen Ink

The Question of the Legality of Marijuana

September 27, 2009
By Anonymous

The United States federal government has taken it upon itself to ban the use of marijuana within its jurisdiction for the incorrect and popular belief that ingesting any purely herbal form of the cannabis plant will harm the using individual and any individual(s) in their vicinity. Empirical economical, personal, and other research provides the support necessary to take a stand in this case. It is possible to legalize marijuana and put an end to the negative stigma associated with it.

Red Ribbon Week is a nation-wide event that is celebrated in public schools. During this special-education week, students are taught about the harms of drugs such as alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana. Students are told to stay very far away from these drugs, and for emphasis, signs are put up in school zones, reminding the failures of generations past not to bring their drugs anywhere near the shining beacon of a new generation. Very few people actually take it upon themselves to ask “Why?” Alcohol causes drunken rages and destroys the liver; cigarettes kill the people that smoke them and any person in vicinity, but why isn’t marijuana legal? Why shouldn’t it be made legal? What if it wasn’t an illicit substance that the general public seems to find funny? What if marijuana was legal?

Most citizens of the United States of America have been reminded many times that they’re entitled to privacy as long as what they do in private harms no one, and that the federal government only serves the people, but keeps out of state affairs, since they are out of their jurisdiction. A general question then, remains unanswered: why aren’t their state laws determining whether or not smoking marijuana is legal? If a person is suspected of or caught in possession of marijuana, their property can be seized by the federal government. The Constitution also states that the government will have nothing to say about the religious affairs of its citizens. There are religions in which marijuana plays a part; the easiest example of it being used is by Rastafarians. Even today, however, marijuana is used in various Hindu and Buddhist ceremonies. Where are the rights of those groups?

If the general public would stop and listen, they would be opened up to the benefits of legalizing marijuana. An economic advantage would be the demise of the black market in this field. The government could place a tax on marijuana, just like all other products, and place similar restrictions on it as are on alcohol and cigarettes (i.e. age limit, physical containment, banned from schools and the workplace.) In addition to those taxes, the government could establish an entirely new industry in hemp, the non-psychoactive form of the cannabis plant. As former president George Washington once said: “Make the most of the hemp seed. Sow it everywhere.” Had the federal government not outlawed all forms of cannabis, this nation would also prosper, like 30 others, from the hemp industry. “Using modern processing techniques, hemp can be used in the place of petro-chemicals. Instead of synthetics made from oil, we can use natural fiber and processed bioplastic derivatives.” (E. Rosenthal, S. Kubby, & S. Newhart (2003) Why Marijuana Should Be Legal) The most obvious and best arguing point for establishing a native hemp industry would be the limited dependence on foreign oil. Unfortunately, as long as marijuana remains illegal, “self-serving bureaucrats” will continue to outlaw hemp as well.

Unfortunately, the stubborn ways of reality would demean all points in this document. Imagine that the government would consider the numerous benefits of legalizing cannabis and all its natural counterparts.

With this new system in place, the government could let go of the 57% of federal prison inmates that are imprisoned on marijuana-related charges (U.S. DOJ, BJS, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 2000), 88% of which were arrested on simple possession charges. Once they’re set free, the taxes Americans are paying to keep them housed and comfortable (23,000 USD per inmate according to S.R. Donziger, 1996) could be used for education, which is currently at only 8,000 per child. (D.A. Olsen, May 4, 2000)

If we refuse, then the cycle continues; we spend a minimal amount on the Red-Ribbon children of the future, only to have them try to scrape up a living as a dealer or try to relax from the injustice of the world as an illegal consumer, which will land them in jail, where they’re more taken care of than when they were shining beacons on the horizon.

On the other hand, there must be a legitimate reason as to why marijuana is illegal. Surely, it being considered a “gateway drug”, that is, any substance that leads the used to advance to using “harder”, more destructive substances in the absence of the initial substance, should be evidence enough for its removal from society. Unfortunately, for advocates of this propaganda, studies have been conducted that show no physical dependence upon marijuana. It is a depressant, but any addiction to natural marijuana is solely psychological and cannabis is not at fault. Likewise, it does not make the user want to experiment with hard drugs. In young adults, it’s called peer pressure; in adults, it’s a personal issue.

From a historical perspective, marijuana was first made illegal by pharmaceutical companies (and lobbyists) that were interested in selling the new drugs that they engineered as opposed to selling natural relievers that would cure ailments without the technological side effects. Marijuana was also used commonly by entertainers, African- Americans, and Mexican-Americans, so the ban served as a legal way to harass them. In addition to that, alcohol prohibition had just ended, and most police officers would be out of a job and into the “bread line” of the Depression without any new laws to enforce or substances to prohibit. All of this empirical evidence brings us back to an earlier point: There are more arrests nationwide for marijuana use (723, 627) than there are for arson, manslaughter, rape, stolen property, vandalism, and sex offences combined (627, 132) according to the 2001 FBI Uniform Crime Reports. In October of 2002, prison populations went up as crime rates went down. And to bring it all full circle, 1 in 3 young black males 20-29 years old is under some type of correctional control, while 1 in 8 young Hispanic males are, and 1 in 15 young white males are.

From a purely emotional perspective, the laws prohibiting marijuana are horrendously unnecessary and will only widen the gap between the government and its people. Marijuana laws are akin to the Salem witch trials. At that point in time, there was mass hysteria spread over something that the common American now recognizes as false. The pandemonium associated with pot has lead to paranoia, ruined innocent lives, and in far too many cases, resulted in death. Will it take another 300 years to recognize the stupidity of the situation?

The author's comments:
I wrote this piece for my 11th grade AP English class. No, I don't smoke weed, but I do believe that individuals who enjoy it should be allowed to. I honestly hope that the people reading this will at least open their minds a little: this isn't a debate. This is my opinion, and I am just as entitiled to it as you all are.

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This article has 29 comments.

on Feb. 23 2017 at 9:58 am
InsomniAlex GOLD, Corry, Pennsylvania
14 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"All the world's a stage" William Shakespeare
"And though she be but little, she is fierce" William Shakespeare

I agree, I do smoke marijuana because I believe that it should be legal, so I smoke it.

on Feb. 5 2015 at 7:47 pm
yesimacommunist, Arvada, Colorado
0 articles 0 photos 4 comments
I can bet that you have no idea what you are talking about and I can also bet you have no good reasons to why it shouldn't be legal

Bookemist GOLD said...
on Oct. 27 2013 at 7:32 pm
Bookemist GOLD, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
13 articles 3 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I think people should be allowed to do anything they want. We haven’t tried that for a while. Maybe this time it’ll work."- George Carlin

All very legitimate concerns, but I don't think you're being entirely logical. 1. "there are other drugs that could be laced within it". This is certainly true, but this is only widespread BECAUSE marijuana is grown by underground criminals, who think it's funny  or profitable to put synthetic heroin or horse tranquilizers in their product. If pot was legal, this problem would actually be solved; pot would be primarily grown by large farmers and companies, who could afford to make it cheapest, and its quality and safety would be regulated by the FDA. 2. "It is also a gateway drug". Fair, but this argument is circular. First of all, if you're talking about leading people to addiction to harder drugs, studies have clearly shown that cigarettes are more of a gateway than pot. Secondly, this is more of a slippery slope falllacy than a legitimate concern; just because one non-harmful thing could possibly lead to harmful things is no reason to discourage it. After all, if weed was legalized and the taboo removed, it would be no more of a gateway drug than alcohol.

on Jun. 10 2013 at 12:41 pm
oxamandaleigh BRONZE, Hawley, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
keeeeep ya friends close and ya enemies closer.

I disagree that marijuana should be legal. it's not the same as it was years ago, and there are other drugs that could be laced within it. Not all of it is natural anymore, and thats the scariest part. It is also a gateway drug to more harmful substances such as perscription pills and heroin. not everyone stops at just weed. When people get tired of smoking all the time, the may want to expierience something more effective to them.

Jareeeeeee said...
on May. 4 2013 at 10:07 pm
Jareeeeeee, Detroit, Michigan
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
Being a teenager is about finding out who you are, no matter how many tries it takes.

No! Marijuana should  not be legal, we need to work harder at getting it out of the country, it is ruining us, and we need to wake up and see that!!

on Dec. 8 2011 at 2:08 pm
Who purposly coughs when they smoke? if you dont cough while your smoking you should find some better weed

legalize said...
on Sep. 18 2011 at 9:27 pm
Beautifully written. Send this to more websites to be published, the United States needs to stop hanging its witches.

on Jul. 4 2011 at 10:49 am
Thoreau420 SILVER, Martinsburg, West Virginia
7 articles 0 photos 39 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Herb is the healing of a nation, alcohol is its destruction." - Bob Marley

Good, I liked it, but you might want to cite your sources of information and add a bibliogrophy. It makes your argument much stronger instead of just taking your word for it.

on Apr. 30 2011 at 8:12 pm
GabrielMianulli BRONZE, Plymouth, Minnesota
2 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words." -Edgar Allen Poe

I like how he DID, in fact, do all of those things.

on Apr. 7 2011 at 11:23 am
SATAN4LIFE BRONZE, Waterboro, Maine
1 article 0 photos 29 comments

Favorite Quote:

I like your epic failure to produce any sort of reason, logic, or real statistics to back up your 'facts'

on Mar. 18 2011 at 10:34 am
AmmmyMarie GOLD, Silverton, Oregon
10 articles 0 photos 4 comments
i do beleive that people should legalize it. In my own experiences it has  helped alot in my own life.

Halo said...
on Jan. 14 2011 at 2:52 pm
marijuana should not be legalized because hosptials use it to. they should make it not a durg. well thats all i hav to say about it. its a good thing for people. lol lmfao hahahahaha marijuana is a awsome thing to have on  the world

on Dec. 6 2010 at 5:15 pm
jimmydane34 GOLD, Wood Ridge, New Jersey
10 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.

life is dangerous, just to inform all those people against legalality. yea its a gate way drug. god forbid we actually try to maintain control and keeping things in moderation.  yea some people do drugs after getting tired of smking pot. well when death rates far exceeds alcohol and tabbacco then you can start crying, also do not get into specifics why you think pot is bad due to personal expierences everyone in the world has personal expierences, such as alcohol and tabacco, people have died in drinking to much water because of a contest to win a television. 

hybridtheory said...
on Nov. 14 2010 at 6:32 pm
hybridtheory, Mesa, Arizona
0 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
"minority is about being an individual. it's like you have to sift through the darkness to find your place and be that individual you want to be your entire life." -billie joe armstrong. ♥

i completely agree with you! i do not use drugs of any kind, but i do do think legalization is the way to go :)

GraemeV said...
on Oct. 1 2010 at 8:17 am
GraemeV, Bundaberg, Other
0 articles 0 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
“The system’s got too much control, and they don’t wanna let it go, I’m a prisoner fighting to be free, I’m breaking out of captivity” – Ziggy Marley.

It all comes down to personal motivation, and controlling yourself.

Most people really have no control over their lives, think about it.
I think it should be legal though - it's natural.

Annual Causes of Death in the United States


Poor Diet and Physical Inactivity 365,0001


Microbial Agents75,0001

Toxic Agents55,0001

Motor Vehicle Crashes 26,3471

Adverse Reactions to Prescription Drugs 32,0002


Incidents Involving Firearms 29,0001


Sexual Behaviors20,0001

All Illicit Drug Use, Direct and Indirect17,0001, 5

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Such As Aspirin7,6006

Marijuana 0

Anna said...
on Sep. 9 2010 at 11:14 am

If marijuana is legalized then there would be less money flowing into the hands of drug cartels and more going into local economies. While legalization wouldn't come close to stemming the flow of money going south, it would provide a significant damper.

An excellent article with clear fluidity and brilliant points.

on Jul. 27 2010 at 8:21 pm
Jordan901278 BRONZE, Long Pond, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 22 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Moloch! Burns down the love of the world." - Allen Ginsberg

Marijuana is not physically addictive, it is only psychologically addictive. Which places it within the same realm as coffee, video games, and junk food. I smoked pot for years constantly, and gave it up cold turkey for 6 months. I had no symptoms of withdrawal, flared temper, nothing. The only bad thing about pot is that it's illegal and it shows up in my pee.

on Jul. 5 2010 at 9:49 pm
well i'm just wondering.... do any of the people supporting marijuana's legalization have an addicted parent? pot can ruin so many lives with the problem of addiction, and imagine how many new users would come about if weed was legalized? my parents are divorcing because my father is  an alcoholic and smokes pot, but pot lead to alcohol. if people know pot is bad, why would they want to encourage use of it, especially when it already has harmed so many???

on Mar. 17 2010 at 10:05 am
Peace420 BRONZE, Williston, Florida
2 articles 0 photos 42 comments
I never understood the reason why people would lace it with other drugs, it is so good without it. Just cough when you are smoking, it gets you higher.

on Mar. 17 2010 at 10:03 am
Peace420 BRONZE, Williston, Florida
2 articles 0 photos 42 comments
I agree with you

I love weed

and it is not bad for you!