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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

Legalizing Marijuana


In the 1800’s marijuana was used for its medicinal effects. Once aspirin was invented at the end of the 19th century, medicinal marijuana was no longer found in pharmacies. Then through the 20th century it gradually became more and more illegal, until now, as it’s making a comeback. People are starting to realize once again the medicinal benefits of using marijuana, seeing that there is more than just recreational use. Not only could it help people with such a broad range of diseases and disorders, but it can be researched and made more predictable, creating one of the largest cash crops, and so many jobs.


In the 20th century marijuana slowly became more illegal up to the point when the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 was put in motion. Under this act, marijuana use was illegal across all of the United States. Since then, states have passed their own laws to legalize it again. First was California in 1996, then Colorado followed in 2012 after Amendment 64 was passed allowing the state to sell recreational marijuana. 6 years later, 29 states have legalized the use of marijuana. (Martin, n.d.)

There are numerous health benefits to marijuana. Some of these benefits include pain relief, seizure prevention, slowing of cancer growth, calming OCD/Tourette’s, curing insomnia, and aiding in the recover from eating disorders. There is a tremendous amount of evidence that shows that marijuana works as a medication, so why do all the anti-legalization voters not realize that? (Staff, 2016)

An explanation for this could be the fact that marijuana is considered a schedule 1 drug. Schedule 1 drugs are substances classified by the DEA to have high potential for abuse and no medical value. The government isn’t the only body that has categorized marijuana, society has too. They [we] have related it to cigarettes. However, cigarettes contain lighter fluid, candle wax, toilet cleaner, arsenic, batteries, and rocket fuel. Marijuana is just a flower and a piece of paper, of course. (“DEA / Drug Scheduling,” n.d.)

Another way that could elucidate their prejudice is explained by Patrick Kennedy and Christopher Lawford, two recovering marijuana addicts. They were interviewed by O’reilly on the O’reilly Factor to elaborate that legalizing marijuana is going to lead to marijuana dependence and that it’s as equally atrocious as smoking a cigarette. Kennedy feels that the legalization will cause mood disorders and that the industry will make money off of addicts which, “is not what makes America great.” Lawford says that it is hard to treat marijuana addicts, and since legalization will increase the number of addicts, it’s not a good idea. (News, 2014)

If marijuana is legalized, it makes sense that there will be money spent, but the government could make a profit from legalization. If it is legalized, it will require a monumental increase in our nation’s workforce, therefore, lowering our unemployment rate. We will also be able to save an abundance of money. By not arresting people in possession of marijuana, the government won’t have to spend money on the process of incarceration. Legalizing also means it will have to be taxed. Leading marijuana to becoming one of the largest cash crops in America. Last, it will promote consumer safety. Testing marijuana before a sale is becoming a standard requirement in states where marijuana is legal. Further legalization means that marijuana will undergo a higher standard of quality control which leads to safer consumption. (“Marijuana Legalization and Regulation,” n.d.)

Not all politicians agree with the fact that marijuana is bad, there are politicians that feel legalization is a good idea. Like Gavin Newsom, the Lieutenant governor of California who says, “These [recreational marijuana users] are incredibly upstanding citizens: leaders in our community, and exceptional people. Increasingly, people are willing to share how they use it and not be ashamed of it. …These laws just don’t make sense anymore. It’s time for politicians to come out of the closet on this.” Another example would be the Senator of New Jersey, Cory Brooker. He says, “Medical marijuana, heck yes. I do not understand, that there are drugs more toxic, more dangerous, more challenging, in drug stores all over my city and all over my state, but yet we single out this one drug and say you can’t even have it in a medical fashion. The reason why I said I want to go beyond that is because of the drug war. …We have seen so much of our national treasure being spent in the drug war.” (Shim, 2014)


There are a lot of people who have agreed with legalization, but there are those who are reluctant and are still holding us back. I understand the negative perspectives of marijuana, but recreational and medicinal use of marijuana are two completely different concepts.

Legalizing [medicinal] marijuana doesn’t only benefit people with problems like seizures, severe pain, or any other disease/disorder that could be lessened or completely treated by the use of medicinal marijuana. It also benefits the criminal justice system. The criminalization of marijuana use has supported violence and corruption. Legalization means a reduction in the violence and corruption there is today.

Patrick Kennedy and Christopher Lawford make some strong points in their arguments. Arguing that the health benefits don’t outweigh the negatives of legalizing marijuana. Today, that is simply not true anymore.

I don’t understand how the DEA feels that marijuana could be considered a Schedule l drug. I know that there is marijuana dependence, but not when it is used for medical reasons. It should fall under, at most, as a schedule ll drug, but being put in the same category as heroin? Marijuana doesn’t kill you like those other drugs do. I surmise that this is why there are people against legalizing marijuana, because they don’t view it as marijuana itself, but as a drug as bad as the others in its assigned category. They just see it a high-risk drug. The DEA is trying to persuade lay people that marijuana is simply a bad drug and to steer clear of it.


DEA / Drug Scheduling. (n.d.).

Marijuana Legalization and Regulation. (n.d.).

Martin, S. C. (n.d.). A Brief History of Marijuana Law in America.

News, F. (2014). Consequences of marijuana legalization.

Shim, E. (2014, April 10). A Running List of All the Politicians Who Support Marijuana Legalization. So Far.

Staff, T. (2016, February 21). 10 Major Health Benefits Of Marijuana |


Keywords: DEA, Health, Addicts



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