Question 1: The case for legalizing marijuana

Ronald Reagan once said during a speech on the War on Drugs, “Marijuana, pot, grass, whatever you want to call it, is probably the most dangerous drug in the United States.” Now, although many scientific studies have come forward showing this to be blatantly untrue, the sensationalized fear of marijuana from the beginning years of the War on Drugs is still present in the psyche of many Americans. As a result, the legalization of weed has become a hot button issue, with many people perpetuating misconceptions and lies left over from the bygone era of Reagan.

First of all, America was founded on the rights of the individual over the state. That means that as long as you are not violating the same rights given to someone else, no one should have the right to tell you what you can and cannot do. No one has the right to force you to eat right, go out and exercise, or to take care of yourself. Therefore, why does someone have the right to mandate how you can get high? If you are not hurting anyone, why are you not allowed to do it?

The War on Drugs is also illegal. According to our Constitution, which I may need to remind some people is still the supreme law of the land, powers not specifically given to Congress shall be deferred to the states and then to the people. Therefore, an overarching federal drug prohibition violates this principle. There is a reason why the 18th amendment exists. Congress knew it had no constitutional right to ban the sale of alcohol under the constitution without an amendment, so why is there not one for drug prohibition? A common complaint from those who stand against weed legalization is that states, like Colorado and Oregon, are breaking federal law by legalizing the recreational use of weed in their states. However, it is important to understand that these federal mandates have no legal right to exist in the first place.

There are many people who fear that the legalization of marijuana will lead to the increased use of other more harmful drugs. However, there is little evidence to support the fact that marijuana is a gateway drug. According to studies done by the National Institute for Drug Addiction, although there is a biological explanation for the gateway drug claim due to the fact that weed primes the brain to be more receptive to stimulus, they are unable to rule out the fact that other factors may play a larger role in someone’s descent into harder, more dangerous drugs. These factors include someone’s social environment and the fact that some people are naturally more susceptible to fall into addiction. Also important is the fact that substances such as nicotine and alcohol prime the brain in a similar way to weed, and yet we understand the ridiculousness of banning them.

Marijuana prohibition is also insanely expensive. According to Jeffrey Miron, a senior lecturer at Harvard who studied the cost of drug prohibition, the cost of banning marijuana in 2010 was approximately $8.7 billion spent on law enforcement and another $8.7 billion lost on potential taxes. To adjust to inflation that comes to almost $20 billion annually. We could build two Donald Trump walls a year with that money. More realistically, however, that is money and time from our law enforcement officers that could go to into preventing murders or rapes or robberies. That’s not even factoring the cost of Mexican lives lost due to the cartels and organized gangs that are able to smuggle drugs like weed into and around the United States.

Is preventing someone from smoking a joint really worth someone’s life?

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