Legalizing: for the Constitution Controlling the personal choices of citizens is not one of the duties mentioned for the federal government in the United States Constitution. In America what we choose to do with our bodies has nothing to do with the government, so long as we are not harming other citizens. Marijuana “is literally one of the most least toxic substances known.” It is a plant, cultivated and derived from the earth and “does not cause brain damage, genetic damage or damage to the immune system.” Unlike alcohol, which is legal, regulated by the government, and available to all citizens over twenty-one, marijuana does not kill brain cells or induce violent behavior (legalizationofmarijuana.com). The prohibition of marijuana is simply unconstitutional. Historically, marijuana was deemed illegal by the government based on the 1900’s business tycoons William Randolph Hearst and the DuPont family. They wanted to ensure that their businesses would be the sole profiteers of the hemp sales through their personal production and regulation. In the 1930’s, the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act deemed marijuana “a drug” and prohibited it from thirty-five states. The Supreme Court cases United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Coop and Gonzales v. Raich ruled that the federal government could legally deem marijuana unsafe and prohibit the use of medical marijuana (legalize.org). So, why all the fuss over making marijuana legal now? Medically speaking, marijuana works wonders. According to procon.org, multiple scientific studies have shown that marijuana “can be a safe and effective treatment for the symptoms of cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, pain, glaucoma, epilepsy, and other conditions.” Marijuana has also been shown to reduce nausea in patients with gastrointestinal illnesses and diseases, as well as soothe the pain for those with tremors or other terminal conditions.
Not only does marijuana help illnesses but it can also help the national and state economies. In 1996 California legalized marijuana for medical purposes. The bill, entitled California Proposition 215, gave citizens with a valid prescription the ability to cultivate and use marijuana (California Department of Public Health.com). According to Milton Friedman, an American economist and author, if legalized nationally, marijuana would save $7.7 billion in combined state and federal spending and would yield up to $6.2 billion a year. Friedman has joined 500 other economists in signing an open letter to all branches of government with his explanation (about.com economics). Furthermore, filling our prisons with those who do no more than use a mild sedative does not make sense economically. New FBI statistics on legalization of marijuana.com report that, â€œthe total number of marijuana arrests for 2000 far exceeded the combined number of arrests for violent crimes, including murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.â€? We do not have the time or resources to put into such needless arrests. If marijuana were to be legalized, much of the black market violence and crime that surrounds the sale of marijuana would be stopped because there would no longer be necessity for black market traffickers who produce and sell it across international lines. The government could regulate the production, trade and regulation of marijuana, making it safer for everyone. With proper education and regulation of the substance, marijuana could be used for its medical benefits and controlled like tobacco or alcohol. The prohibition of marijuana is hypocritical to the very form of government we live in. We enjoy a democracy where we value our personal freedoms. It is the governmentâ€™s job to protect our individual rights and freedoms. We all agree that it would be unconstitutional for the government to produce a law wherein citizens cannot overeat. While obesity is a national
epidemic, it would be unconstitutional for the government to outlaw overeating because that would infringe directly on the rights of citizens to make their own life decisions. Marijuana falls into the same category. Since smoking marijuana does not directly lead to harming other people, there is no reason for it to be outlawed. For its medical and economic benefits and its lack of serious negative consequences, the American prohibition against marijuana should be lifted so citizens can choose to live their lives the way they deem appropriate.