The war on drugs cost the U.S. billions of dollars, putting countless people in prison for using a plant that has never been the direct cause of a death.
Nationally, marijuana is becoming accepted and eventually legalized. According to the Pew Research Center, about 60 percent of Americans are pro-legalization of cannabis.
“It's everywhere; it's a huge part of American culture,” said Boston teen Thalia Correll.
According to Vox, marijuana is now legal for recreational use in eight states, Massachusetts being one of them. Legal marijuana helps the buyers and communities by being a healthier alternative to drinking or smoking cigarettes and creates taxes which can be used for repairing faltering infrastructure or towards needed social programs.
Marijuana legalization will not only help the community, it will stimulate the economy.
“The state-regulated marijuana industry has created tens of thousands of jobs and generated hundreds of millions of dollars for state and local governments,” said Tvert. According to Vox, the marijuana industry in California alone could be worth $5.1 billion by the end of the year.
“Adult marijuana sales have generated more than half a billion dollars in state tax revenue...more than $225 million has been allocated to the Department of Education to benefit schools,” said Tvert.
In addition to improving the economy, legalizing marijuana would discourage the use of more dangerous drugs.
“Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, tobacco and many other legal products,” said Tvert. “Researchers have concluded it has fewer and less severe addictive properties.” In 2014, about 30,000 people died from alcohol use, and the statistics would be much higher if alcohol-induced violence were included. Cigarettes too, present much higher risks than marijuana. According to cancer.org, 48.5 percent of cancer deaths are tied to smoking cigarettes. Marijuana, on the other hand, has known medical uses and according to the Washington Post, there have been zero deaths from overdoses.
A common argument against legalization is that marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to abuse of more dangerous drugs. Psychiatrist Robert L. DuPont recently penned a New York Times op-ed arguing “people who are addicted to marijuana are three times more likely to be addicted to heroin.” He came to this conclusion largely based on the fact that many heroin addicts have regularly used marijuana as well. However, while there is a correlation between marijuana use and heroin use, in a New York Times piece written by Ethan Nadelmann, the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance says this does not mean that marijuana users are more likely to use heroin.
Legalizing marijuana has nothing but positive effects on the community. It will help the economy, allow people to buy safely without being exposed to dangerous people and drugs and provide a healthier alternative to cigarettes and alcohol. The war on marijuana is a complete failure that had severe effects on America, and it is time that it finally came to an end.