Now that, it's possible legally to buy and smoke marijuana in many parts of the U.S., it's safe to say that pot and its byproducts will be surged legally throughout the rest of the country fairly soon. When? We don't know when. But here is why legalizing marijuana makes total sense:
1.) Current drug laws are locking up marijuana users and categorizing them with heroin and methamphetamine addicts, something that legalization proponents, such as Aaron Houston, executive director of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, maintain is a punishment that far exceeds the crime.
According to MPP (Marijuana Policy Project Foundation), there are currently tens of thousands of Americans in jail for marijuana-related offenses, the overwhelming majority of which are simple possession crimes.
2.) From a purely mercenary view, legalizing marijuana for recreational use would generate a windfall of federal and state revenue, argues the Huffington Post. It cites a 2010 Cato report that estimates legalization could bring up to $8.7 billion in new taxes yearly.
3.) Currently, there is wide variation in the strength and composition of street marijuana. If legalized, the government could impose standards so that the consumer would know what he or she is buying.
4.) Legalization would take marijuana distribution out of the hands of drug cartels and into the hands of legitimate growers and distributors, argues MPP.
5.) Before pot was banned in the '30s, doctors were prescribing it to patients. However, doctors were prescribing tinctures — not flowers that you can smoke — making pot acceptable throughout the U.S. Currently, doctors aren't allowed to prescribe marijuana, even in the states where medical marijuana is legal, according to NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.) In such states, doctors can recommend such treatment, but patients must obtain the drug from state health boards.
The idea of legalized marijuana is more than just a pipe dream. There are currently two bills in Congress regarding the issue — 1.) that would remove marijuana from the list of banned substances and 2.) that would impose a 50 percent excise tax on the sale of marijuana. There are several other bills expected to be introduced in the fall session of Congress.
Popular culture has long been accepting of marijuana, at least up to a certain point. All the movies and television shows that include marijuana references, such as "That 70s Show," "Cheech and Chong" or one of the many other programs shown on your local cable-TV or satellite entertainment packages, prove the plant is on the same social scale as alcohol. Legalized, recreational marijuana may be a decade away, but legalization certainly looks as it's the direction Congress is heading.