Legalization of Marijuana in the United States

Legalization of Marijuana in the United States

Legalization of marijuana in the U.S. has become a contentious issue in the recent period. Over the last decade, a number of states have decriminalized marijuana, allowing adults to use it like any other recreational drug. Nonetheless, Marijuana use as a recreational drug remains illegal in most states, although in some states there are debates concerning decriminalization of marijuana. A poll conducted by Gullup (2016) indicates that the support for marijuana decriminalization is gaining ground. Currently, about 60 percent of Americans support the decriminalization of marijuana, up from a partly 12 percent of Americans who wanted marijuana legalized in 1969. This paper is a critical analysis of the pros and cons involved in the legalization debate.

Pros of Legalizing Marijuana

There are several benefits in legalizing marijuana. The major benefit is the availability of medical marijuana. The legalization of marijuana has made it possible for people with certain medical conditions such as cancer and other terminal illnesses to access marijuana for medicinal purposes. Marijuana can act as a pain reliever for various conditions such as muscle spasms, nausea, and general pain. Legalizing marijuana use will increase tax revenues for both state and federal governments. According to Dufton (2017), the Department of Revenue will be responsible for taxing marijuana. This translates to additional sources of revenue for the government.

Legalizing marijuana reduces incidences of opioids overdoses in individuals suffering from pain. The findings by Bachhuber, Saloner, Cunningham & Barry (2014) indicated that there were fewer opioids overdose related deaths in states that had decriminalized the use of marijuana. This is because those suffering from pain could choose to use cannabis, thus reducing incidences of opioids overdose. Legalizing marijuana will eliminate the black market and negative aspects associated with the black market such as gang-related drug criminal acts. In states where sale or use of marijuana is still illegal, those who engage in such practices can only result to vigilantism to solve disputes. Where legalization applies, it is possible to solve disputes within the justice system.

The legalization of marijuana is likely to reduce alcohol abuse and alcohol-related consequences such as road accidents (Hall, W., & Weier, 2015). This will likely occur when individuals prefer the use of marijuana instead of alcohol. Another possible benefit is the ease of conducting research on the long-term effects of using marijuana. Legalizing marijuana will make it easier for researchers to study heavy marijuana users and understand the health impacts of using the drug. Legalizing marijuana will lead to a decrease in costs involved in arresting, prosecuting, and imprisoning users and peddlers (Hall & Weier, 2015). The saved resources can help in fighting other crimes. Lastly, rising public support for legalizing marijuana (over 60 percent of Americans support legalization) shows the need to decriminalize marijuana.

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Cons of Legalizing Marijuana

There are serious risks involved in the use of marijuana. Health concerns over the use of marijuana have pervaded the legalization debate for decades. Brooks et al. (2016) asserted that marijuana use could impair the cognitive abilities among users. Children are likely to suffer cognitive deficits if their mothers used marijuana during pregnancy. Further, adults who consume more than 10 mg of THC (chemical compound occurring in marijuana) could be at a significant risk of experiencing cognitive impairments (Brooks et al., 2016). Another negative consequence of marijuana use is addiction. Daily use of marijuana leads dependence issues. According to Leyton (2016), about 15 percent of users become addicted to marijuana. Further, marijuana use increases the chances of developing schizophrenia at an early age (Leyton, 2016).

Fears are pervasive that legalizing marijuana could increase use among adolescents (Hall & Weier, 2015). Legalizing marijuana will have the effect of easing access of the drug as well as lowering its price, hence making it more affordable among the youths. Closely related to this, legalizing marijuana is likely to influence public perception of the health risks related to using marijuana (Hall & Weier, 2015). This will create the perception that marijuana use is acceptable and there are no serious health consequences. Brooks et al. (2016) concluded that marijuana use negatively affects the academic achievement of users. It also increases the possibility of developing psychotic symptoms during adulthood. Another major issue with marijuana use is that it acts as a gateway drug to various hard drugs such cocaine.

Personal Position

My recommendation is that legalization of marijuana use for recreational purposes will have significant negative consequences in the society. Marijuana should strictly be used for medicinal purposes. Extending its use to recreational purposes will likely increase its use among adolescents and create a perception that marijuana use has no serious social and health consequences. Existing research points to the possibility of developing mental health problems such as psychosis in using marijuana. Marijuana is addictive may also influence users to try other hard drugs. It is important for governments to maintain consistency in policy decisions. Inconsistency would create the perception that the policymakers do not have the relevant details concerning the implications of marijuana use. Justice would be an important consideration since a majority of people has faced incarceration for possession or use of marijuana.

In summary, decriminalizing marijuana could have certain implications among users and the community at large. Legalizing marijuana will increase government revenue, make it easy to use marijuana for medical purposes, reduce dependence on other drugs, and will be in line with the current public opinion. On the other hand, decriminalizing marijuana could have serious implications in the numbers of those using marijuana. There are various health consequences of using marijuana including dependency and mental health issues. It is recommended that marijuana should only be allowed for medical purposes.


Bachhuber, M.A., Saloner, B., Cunningham, C.O. & Barry, C.L. (2014). Medical cannabis laws   and opioid analgesic overdose mortality in the United States, 1999–2010. JAMA Internal        Med, 174 (10), 1668–1673.

Brooks, E., Gundersen, D. C., Flynn, E., Brooks-Russell, A., & Bull, S. (2016;2017;). The            clinical implications of legalizing marijuana: Are physician and non-physician providers   prepared? Addictive Behaviors, 72, 1. 10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.03.007

Dufton, E. (2017, Dec. 7). U.S. States Tried Decriminalizing Pot Before. Here’s Why It Didn’t     Work. Time. Retrieved from

Hall, W., & Weier, M. (2015). Assessing the public health impacts of legalizing recreational        cannabis use in the USA. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 97(6), 607-615.          10.1002/cpt.110

Leyton, M., PhD. (2016). Legalizing marijuana. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 41(2), 75-76. 10.1503/jpn.160012


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