Legalization of cannabis has been a very controversial issue in the United States for a long time; even more so after several states have already passed the legislation lifting the ban. Should all marijuana be legal? Is it dangerous? What are the possible implications of this? It is one of these topics that people just cannot help but have diametrically opposite viewpoints on.
For decades marijuana was considered to be a dangerous drug, leading to criminal behavior and personal degradation. However, by now most of these beliefs have been discredited – there is little to no proof that cannabis in and of itself has any adverse effects. Some studies even show that it is far less dangerous than many completely legal prescription drugs – both for its users and those around them.
In addition to that, there is corroborative proof of marijuana’s positive medical effects. Cannabis is beneficial for epilepsy patients, it eases nausea caused by chemotherapy and shows good results when used by people suffering from AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and a number of other conditions. In other words, legalization of cannabis can greatly improve the quality of life of all these people, while proof of its lasting or even temporary adverse effects remains more than scarce.
But even if we take medical use of cannabis aside, let’s ask ourselves a simple question: the war on drugs has been raging for decades, billions of government spending have been poured down this sinkhole, hundreds of thousands of people were convicted on drug charges, tens of thousands are getting killed in drug wars in Mexico and South America – yet the results are less than nil.
Drug trade is running rampant, tens of thousands die in drug-related shootings and gang warfare, prisons are overfilled with people charged with possession or selling drugs (and a large percentage of them has been arrested over finding a tiny amount of marijuana on them), time in prison makes it difficult for these people to find proper jobs later on, again pushing them towards criminal activities, thousands of addicts die due to overdose.
It seems that Prohibition era should have taught us that criminalizing an activity doesn’t make it disappear – it simply procreates organized crime. Most narcotic drugs are relatively simple and cheap in production – their high prices are caused by their illegal status and dangers accompanying producing and selling them. The war on drugs is exactly what causes drug mafia to exist in the first place – and in the long run, losses from the war on drugs by far exceed any positive effects it may have.
That is the prime reason to legalize marijuana and, ideally, drugs in general. It is impossible to eliminate them. It is impossible to protect people from themselves. If somebody wants to follow his or her self-destructive tendencies, it is not the state’s job to be his or her nanny. If drugs are legalized and cheap, a drug addict is very unlikely to harm anybody but himself – and we should take into account a greatly diminished risk of overdose, infection and other dangers accompanying illicit drugs.