Today, marijuana for medical purposes or recreational use is already legalized in several states in the U.S. Medical cannabis is legalized in Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Florida. In Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada marijuana is legalized for recreational use. In Washington, California, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska marijuana are legal for both medical and recreational use. To see the positive and the negative aspects of the legalization of marijuana on the economy, it is needed to compare and contrast the facts, opinions, evidence, and views on the subject of the advocates and the opponents of legalization.
In the United States of America, the first official case of considering cannabis a harmful substance took place in the year 1906. The prohibition of marijuana began in the 1920s, and it was first regulated by the federal government by the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Since then, the Federal Government had the right to regulate and criminalize marijuana. In 1973, when the possession of small amounts of marijuana was decriminalized, eleven states have canceled the criminal responsibility for cannabis. It has become a signal for legalization advocates to struggle for their aim (Kilmer et al., 2013).
Current Situation and Its Challenges
The consideration of the marijuana policy in the United States of America is a very severe and important question for the country. After years of citizens’ non-formal discussions on that subject, today, marijuana policy and the options, which apply to the legalization, are discussed in legislatures. In the year 2012, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed the Washington state’s initiative 502, and thus she has signed it into the law which made it legal to possess one ounce of marijuana for anyone aged 21 and older. The law also requires the state to regulate and tax the legal marijuana industry and allows businesses to produce commercially oriented quantities for non-medical use. After that, remaining illegal under the federal law, marijuana legalization is not being blocked in Washington and other states with high regulatory systems (Kilmer et al., 2013). It is mentioned, “Today’s society appears to be shifting from the view that medical marijuana is a criminal issue to seeing it as a health care issue” (Philipsen et al., 2014). Nowadays, the United States of America is moving towards federal marijuana legalization.
Views on the Subject
Due to the high public support and new legalization laws, the effect of legal marijuana on the economy is rapidly growing, and it is not expected to stop. Cannabis is considered a dangerous drug, and the possible legalization became a hot topic not only in the United States of America but all over the world. To understand whether the legalization of marijuana is the right or wrong step for the U.S. economy, one has to go through the major arguments of the advocates and the opponents of legalized marijuana (Miron, 2016).
The supporters of the idea have some strong arguments on how legalization can affect the economy positively. The first case that should be mentioned is that the prohibition of marijuana does not stop the supply. A significant part of society continues to demand marijuana, despite the prohibition, thus, developing the black market rather than destroying the drug supply. There are several ways the prohibition affects people and makes them buy illegal marijuana. The first is that the prohibition laws are enforced weakly. The evidence shows that there are a lot of individuals who neglect these laws. Second, due to the psychological causes, some groups of people, especially teenagers, tend to desire what is prohibited (Miron, 2016). Another convincing argument of the legalization advocates is the boost of revenue caused by the taxing of marijuana. They offer to tax and regulate it, rather than putting the possible money into the black market. Taxing marijuana could save the U.S. government a lot of money by removing prohibition financing and adding billions of dollars in revenue. Tax revenue from medical marijuana is already giving state budgets a notable boost. Also, the advocates believe that the legalization will cut off the revenues for illegal drug dealers, and, will provide more time and money for the police to follow more dangerous criminals. At the time, the opponents say that the huge revenues from the marijuana taxing are a myth, thinking it will only add extra expenses such as the public health costs and the cost of implementing the new laws. Some of the legalization opponents believe that legal marijuana will not destroy the black market but will help it to have a profit. Their argument for that statement is that legal cannabis will be too expensive, and a significant number of people, unable to pay for it, will still buy from illegal traders. One more point of the opponents is that the legalization will increase the number of illegal marijuana growers and develop the black market.
Steps of Federal Government to Affect the Situation
Although the state governments have legalized the medical use of marijuana, Federal Government does not admit medical marijuana possession or use. The main reason for that is the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which classifies marijuana as a high dependency drug without medical value (Kilmer et al., 2013). Despite the act, the Federal Government policy today is oriented on large drug operations, and it focuses on issues bigger than individual medical cannabis patients. In the year 2011, federal enforcement agencies have been requested to prosecute growers and the labs (Kilmer et al., 2013).
To see the positive and the negative aspects of the legalization of marijuana on the economy, it is needed to compare and contrast the facts, opinions, evidence, and views on the subject of the advocates and the opponents of legalization. The Federal Government of the United States of America does not admit marijuana possession or use and focuses on the large cannabis issues, rather than individual medical marijuana patients. Though there are a lot of people who still question the positive influence of marijuana legalization on the economy, there is a reach stream of evidence, facts, opinions, and predictions of the benefit the economy will come to with the help of legalization. The main advantages are the boost of tax revenue and the elimination of the black market. Although those who are against legal marijuana try to deny its obvious positive influence on the economy, the facts about the states where the legalization has happened say that they are wrong.
Kilmer, B., Caulkins, J. P., Midgette, G., Dahlkemper, L., MacCoun, R. J., & Liccardo, P. R. (2013). Before the grand opening: Measuring Washington State’s marijuana market in the last year before legalized commercial sales. Rand Corporation.
Miron, J. A. (2016). The economics of drug prohibition and drug legalization.Social research, 835-855.
Philipsen, N., Butler, R. D., Simon-Waterman, C., & Artis, J. (2014). Medical marijuana: A primer on ethics, evidence, and politics. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 10(9), 633-640.