The debate continues. Should the United States legalize medical marijuana or not? After years of discussions and sometimes heated arguments, it is hard to say if our country is any closer to a consensus about this topic today than we were years ago. In fact, more and more people seem to be joining the debate, with economists now taking sides as they predict how legalizing the drug would affect the recession our country is going through.
On the one hand we have those that say we should legalize marijuana as soon as possible, or at least allow medical marijuana to be sold and used by patients, with some regulations. Some people, filled with empathy for those suffering with an illness such as AIDS or cancer, believe that marijuana can provide relief for symptoms and pain of these diseases. In fact, the American Public Health Association, American Nurses Association, and other medical groups support the use of medical marijuana for those that are seriously ill.
Another group to join in the legalization debate are the economists that argue that legalization will give our country an economic boost. Some say that if the government made marijuana legal they could tax it, and new industries and jobs would indirectly come of growing it, selling it, and selling its accessories. If you figure in a reduction in law enforcement, it seems that there is a benefit to making marijuana legal. A new tv campaign from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has created a stir about these points among the media.
It’s not worth it
On the other side of the issue are those that have seen the effects of marijuana on their loved ones and those that don’t believe the stories about economic improvement. Every year, people get hurt and die in drugged driving crashes, and other people waste their lives away because they are stoned all the time. The decrease in productivity by many people that smoke marijuana, the risky behavior associated with it, and treatment costs all are reasons for keeping this drug illegal. Many young people start out their lives of drug abuse by trying marijuana. It is thought to be a gateway drug by many people, meaning that people that start out with this drug may soon turn to harder, more addicting drugs. It is such a common drug of choice that in many areas of our country it is almost accepted, and at times it can be difficult to even find treatment for marijuana abuse.
Some people also argue with the point that legalizing and taxing marijuana could help our economy. They say that the amount of money generated by legalization and taxation would not mean much for our government, and once the societal costs of allowing everyone to possess marijuana are added up, it is pretty much a wash. And so, the debate continues.