The debate about legalizing marijuana has gained a lot of significance in recent years. Different legal opinions have been presented to argue in favor or against the proposal of legalizing marijuana. It is further proven that the use of marijuana has increased across all states in the United States. However, Garvey and Yeh (2014) argue that the current laws have not proven to improve the situation through making marijuana illegal. On the contrary, these laws increase the market value of the product as well as increasing the crime level associated with the marijuana business.
Studies on the use of marijuana have revealed that the natural herb has an enormous capability to solve certain medical issues (Garvey & Yeh, 2014). For instance, medical research has revealed that cannabis can cure cancer, glaucoma as well as multiple sclerosis. It has also been argued that marijuana helps reduce nausea and vomiting in cancer patients during subjection to chemotherapy. The use of medical marijuana has been accepted in use, and it remains to be seen whether the same will apply to the use of marijuana for recreation. Both the federal government as well as the state governments has reportedly invested a lot of money towards the fight against drug trafficking (Dills et al., 2016). The illegal branding of drugs such as marijuana and cocaine are linked to many criminal cases. Tightening the rules also increases the capabilities of gangs to match the rules and this increases both the drug value and crime cases. Legalizing marijuana has been touted as an option that would lead to various achievements that include:
Reduction in peddling related crimes
Reducing the sources of income for peddlers
Reduction in the federal and state expenditure in the fight against drug
Easy monitoring of the use and sales of marijuana in the market
This study recognizes the fact that legalization of marijuana remains a hot topic across the entire US. However, the challenges related to illegalizing marijuana are more compared to the challenges of legalizing marijuana (CAMH, 2014). Proponents of this debate argue that the legalizing of marijuana bears more benefits than costs of the society. On the other hand, critics argue that legalizing marijuana exposes the society to moral erosion which affects the social cost.
The laws aimed at legalizing marijuana in the US are gradually changing regarding complexity (NASEM, HMD, BPHPHP, & CHEM, 2017). Many states in the US have taken up the challenge by legalizing the use of marijuana, especially for medical intervention. A total of 29 states as well as the District of Columbia have established laws that legalize the use of marijuana. It has been established that seven states including the District of Columbia have legalized the commercial trade of marijuana. It is reported that several other states are in the process of developing similar policies that aim at legalizing the sale as well as the use of marijuana. Some states have presented a perception that the use and sale of marijuana are likely to be regulated the same way alcohol is regulated. This regulatory approach includes establishing a legal age which one is allowed to use marijuana, licensing the marijuana business and other public health control methods. The federal government remains adamant on the development of a federal law legalizing the use and sale of marijuana. However, it has always been a requirement by the federal government that; any bye-laws established by individual states have to sustain rules and regulations.
According to the position held by Colorado State, legalizing marijuana use and sale stands to benefit various sectors including public safety, public health as well as youth welfare (Garvey & Yeh, 2014). The California medical marijuana laws were enacted under the Medical Marijuana and Safety Act of 2015. The legal approach intended to control the use of marijuana in medical intervention in the form of medical marijuana. The legislation also recognizes the use of marijuana for recreation purposes which is a similar legal position held as far as alcohol use is concerned. The marijuana law in California provides an opportunity for a person willing to cultivate medical marijuana to acquire a license from both the state and local government. The law recognized as position 64 also emphasizes that the only authorization that will be required is accompanied by an obligation of compliance and reasonable regulation of the same. The law in California also allows any citizen is residing in that state to cultivate weed on an area not exceeding 100 sq.ft with strict adherence to the regulation established locally. In case, Proposition 64 is enacted, more families will be allowed to grow not more than six marijuana plants and also restrict the legal minimum smoking age to 21 years.
Nature and magnitude of the problem
The different legal opinions with regards to the legalization of marijuana in the US have triggered a mixed reaction (CAMH, 2014). It is evident that excess use of marijuana has proven to be harmful to the users health. In addition, it has been medically proven that marijuana is highly addictive and users of this drug can develop a drug addiction disorder. According to the critics of marijuana legalization, US citizens are starring at a future saturated with marijuana addition disorder. The cost of such a magnanimous social problem can turn out to be costly compared to the cost of fighting the drug on the street.
Proponents of this debate argue that states and the federal government stand to benefit from legalizing the drug (ASAM, 2012). It is evident that any illegal drug in the market increases security concerns as well as the cost of fighting the related crimes. To this effect, several states have developed positive reaction to legalize marijuana, and the results are commendable. States such as Colorado and California have reported a reduction in the cost of fighting marijuana. The states have also reported improved control over the use and sale of marijuana the market. It is easy to control a legal commodity that can be tracked on the market compared to an illegal commodity that is often heard than seen by authorities.
Social and economic consequences
The legislation to legalize marijuana shifts most of the responsibility to the society while at the same time reducing the burden on law enforces (ASAM, 2012). Through this legislation, control on the use of marijuana will begin at the family level. One of the consequences of such change is that the society might fail to control marijuana use at the family level. More social organizations will be required to help families deal with marijuana use. The society will be required to establish high discipline as far as the freedom to use marijuana for medical or entertainment reasons is concerned. The economy is likely to benefit in the short term since crime related to marijuana peddling s likely to reduce thus reducing public expenditure.
Legalization o marijuana has several risk factors that policymakers have to consider. One of the risk factors has already been highlighted before, and it involves the problem of addiction. Marijuana has undoubtedly one of the most addictive drugs and long-term addiction to this drug can prevent adverse health effects. Legalizing marijuana is likely to lead to a high number of health cases related to marijuana addiction disorder. Long-term use of marijuana has been linked to medical complications such as psychomotor and cognitive disorder. The negative effect on memory can further affect the state of working populations by incapacitating individuals within the labor force.
Legalization of marijuana stands to affect the entire population regardless of the age. Like alcohol, the effects of marijuana may not only be confined to the users but also to family and friends of users. CAMH (2014) indicated that men between the age of 20 and 39 are the most likely to be affected.
3) Existing Health Policy Landscape
According to ASAM (2012), the use of medical marijuana had been allowed across all states since the early stages of the 20th century. Initially, the production, supply, and use of medical marijuana were addressed under consumer safety laws (NASEM, HMD, BPHPHP, & CHEM, 2017). One of this consumer safety laws includes the Pure Food and Drug Act that was adopted in 1906. In 1911, marijuana was prohibited in the US, and this enforcement of this was mandated to the Federal Bureau of narcotics. Laws such as the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 and the Control Substance Act have been enacted in the past to illegalize marijuana. Federal laws such as the Federal Criminal Act aimed to make all other uses of marijuana illegal apart from medical uses. Powerful federal agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have been used to enforce the marijuana prohibitions allover the US.
4) Proposed Policy, Part I
The debate on legalization of marijuana has to respond to various concerns that include social and legal concerns. For instance, the concern of children vulnerability to marijuana use is of great interest (ASAM, 2012). Another concern includes the passive exposure to marijuana smoke and the impacts of marijuana on vulnerable populations. Quality control on dissemination of information to enhance consumer protection concerns many policymakers. All these concerns including negative effects of marijuana use that include social problems can be controlled under this proposal. Research has also established that marijuana use has fewer health effects compared to the health effects caused by alcohol and tobacco.
Evidence from states that have legalized marijuana use for leisure has proven that legal approach enhances transparency and accountability. For many years, prohibitions have been responsible for increased drug trafficking in the streets. According to an argument presented by NASEM, HMD, BPHPHP, & CHEM (2017), current prohibition of marijuana use have not helped to reduce the US population from exposure to this drug. Over the years, the population using marijuana in the US has gradually increased thus legalizing the law only comes as a benefit to the entire society. The approach to legalizing marijuana would ensure that users of marijuana get access to safe products whose origin can be tracked. It is evident that the peddling approach is conducted with many secrets which can affect the quality of the drug reaching the public.
Similar to the approach adopted to legalize and control alcohol use, marijuana can be controlled.
According to the position held by CAMH (2014), most of the marijuana addiction can be attributed to the strict laws prohibiting the use of the drug. It is also a concern that the prohibition of marijuana use triggers its retailing in the black market which nurtures criminals. For protection purposes, peddlers often acquire illegal firearms, form gangs and even engage in other forms of crime. In cases such prohibitions are lifted, there will be no need for the black market to retail marijuana. Marijuana users can freely buy this commodity from licensed dealers who adhere to established health policies. Legalizing marijuana can protect consumers from exposure to other illicit and more powerful drugs such as cocaine. Some of these drugs have adverse effects on the users compared to the effects of marijuana. Evidence from an approach adopted by the state...
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