Marijuana Legalization 2013: What's Good For Smokers is Also Good For the Taxpayer

Marijuana or pot are not strange words anymore, detached from our lives in some place far away. Now they are almost dinner table conversation, with varying reactions.  This discrepancy isn't only seen in terms of how states look at this with respect to judicial and federal reasons but also cultural ones. Most states in America, most consider smoking pot as a decriminalized activity or as a misdemeanor. However, how far is it from being a completely legalized activity, if not due to its ubiquity in terms of consumption and possession, but over the massive amount of federal money spent on law enforcements to combat drug use?

A recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) speaks of how over 3.6 billion a year is used up in enforcement of laws against drug possession. This comes to light after most marijuana-related arrests came in form of possession, which alone amounted to 88%.Though, the report also hints at a darker scheme of things with respect to these arrests. ACLU reports how the consumption dynamics of drugs is of a similar pattern in both African-Americans and white Americans; however there is a stark difference between how law is enforced towards both these races. Out of the one arrest every 41 seconds, African-Americans are four times more likely to be arrested than whites. So, essentially the taxpayers' money is being aimlessly used to enforce cultural and social disparity.

Is legalization of marijuana such a bad thing? Colorado did it, as did Washington in November 2012. The legalization in Washington was an epic phenomenon in itself and even inspired a movie to come out of it, one that explains the route of legalization in Washington. Evergreen is a documentary film which showcases how the consumption of marijuana was finally voted as a decriminalized and legal activity in this state. Both states now see themselves benefitting economically in tax revenues. This brings us to a difficult paradigm though. Aside from the prescribed medicinal reasons, the main advocacy against marijuana is not just the economic ramifications but also health hazards. Legalizing it would just make it more accessible and therefore more harmful. However, all the financial resources which would be contained within the state due to a decrease in searching for illegal possession, can be successfully employed towards public programs which indicate the health disadvantages of smoking pot. If these laws are drastically changed on both state and federal levels, then unnecessary arrests made of racial biases will cease to exist, at least in the realm of drug abuse. Along with this the common man's money would be put to good use, but it would be important to note here how taxing marijuana can benefit the states which legalize them even more in terms of financial aspects. It will then be a voluntary choice of the citizen to indulge in smoking pot despite the identified health concerns and not because it is a federal offense.

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Shiralie Chaturvedi

Enthusiastic, compulsively passionate and opinionated about world politics. Currently pursuing MA in Media Studies from The New School. I sometimes rant on about fashion too!

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