Marijuana is a naturally occurring substance that is extracted from cannabis plant. Its traditional use was as a psychoactive drug but it has been abused in most circumstances. Such an abuse has identified marijuana as a hard drug and most jurisdictions have made it illegal. However, the drug’s benefits exist and could help people if it were to be legal. It has for example been associated with economic and medicinal benefits that some groups have used to advocate for legalization of the drug. The debate on legalization of marijuana has further been significant in the United States in which it is argued to be a lesser threat to life than other drugs such as alcohol. This discussion explores ways in which legalization of the drug affects America’s economy and patients who need marijuana for medical purposes through answering the following question.
How does the legalization of marijuana affect America’s economy and patients who need marijuana for medical use?
Economic benefits of marijuana
One of the arguments that have been fronted in advocacy for marijuana legalization is the potential economic benefits that the move could offer at macroeconomic level. Bradford (1) reports economic effects that two states in the United States, having legalized marijuana, could benefits. Professional opinions among economists support this. According to estimates, Colorado and Washington are likely to expand their revenues by a total of $ 550 million and estimates from similar sources indicate an annual expansion of the United States economy by about $ 14 billion. Legalizing marijuana and levying fee for dealership is another significant benefit to the government as a source of revenue and this has proved successful in Mendocino county of California. This is good news especially because the nation is facing problems of budget deficit that the additional revenue can remedy. In addition to the direct benefits that legalizing marijuana could offer, it would also reduce government expenses that are associated with enforcement of marijuana laws. According to data from the year 2007, the nation spends as high as $ I billion dollars on incarcerating convicts on marijuana charges and a change in the law would save the expenditure that can be used in other utilities, especially on investment expenditure for economic development. Reports by economists estimate that the government spends about $ 13.7 billion in enforcing current marijuana laws and legalization would save this amount that could be used in funding social or investment projects. The savings also include potential tax revenues that the legalization could derive. Price reduction is another potential economic benefit of marijuana legalization. Even though its trade exist under the current laws, the associated risks dictates high prices that could reduce by about 100 times should the drug be legalized. This will lead to savings among consumers that could be used in other utilities. At significant levels, legalization is likely to increase purchasing power ad propensity to save, among marijuana users because of the reduced prices (Bradford 1).
Marijuana also holds prospects of the nation’s economy. Despite its regulated use in the past, Cannabis has been a significant cash crop. In the state of California alone, the crop’s farming contributes $ 14 billion annually and a change in the laws is likely to improve farming of the plant towards greater revenues. Legalization is also likely to encourage other state to engage in the farming for an expanded economic potential. Economic benefits of marijuana also spread to other industries. Legalizing its trade will make the drug competitive and induce need for advertisement by dealers. Advertisement revenues from medical dealers indicate the potential as it has generated significant revenues for Sacramento News and Review. Effects on other industries can further be inferred to such industries as packing and logistics industries as well as the retail industry. In addition, experts estimate that legalizing marijuana could be a boost to the economy because it is a viable independent industry that could generate as high as $ 100 billion into the economy. Making the drug legal also offers job opportunities workers in marijuana firms and intermediaries. WeGrow supply chain illustrates this potential as each of its centers employees about 75 people. Legalization means an expanded trade with more supply chains that will therefore absorb more people. With unemployment as a significant social and economic problem in the nation, the effects of marijuana legalization will be a boost to the economic war against unemployment (Bradford 1). While illegalization of marijuana is meant to control its use at a cost to the economy and the level of ineffectiveness still allows for trade in, and use of the drug, using economic strategies such as taxation would still regulate the drug’s use but at economic benefits (Benson 1). Dighe (1) supports the notion of economic legalization of marijuana, but from a relativist’s perspective. According to the author, legalizing marijuana has economic benefits beyond quantifiable dollar amounts. He argues that while use of marijuana may not have adverse economic effects on the users and people around him or she, enforcing laws against marijuana use has such effects as separation due to imprisonment. This also implies reduced economic activities by the convict.
Medicinal advantages and disadvantages of marijuana
Exploration of economic aspects of legalizing marijuana identifies many advantages such as increased revenues and employment opportunities. Advantages of legalizing marijuana however extend beyond economic aspect into medical and social perspectives. Dighe (1) explains of consequences of arresting marijuana users whose consumption was never detrimental to the society but whose absence, due to imprisonment, induced significant psychological effects on his family members and on the entire neighborhood. Extreme psychological effects such prolonged stress, arising from enforcement of marijuana laws however identifies health concerns with threats of such terminal diseases as obesity and cardiovascular complications. Legalizing the drug would however eliminate such stress and ensure people’s wellness. Consequently, legalizing marijuana will eliminate such legal interference with people’s social well being. Marijuana also has advantages of safety in application as a medicine. Unlike many medicines, especially chemically processed medicines, that have reported adverse effects, even death, marijuana has not reported any of such effects. Consequently, it should be promoted as an alternative to the dangerous drugs and legalization is the first step into such a usage. According to Smith, marijuana’s consumption is safer than use of drugs as aspirin that are considered safe and are sold over the counter. It is even safer to use unlimited amount of marijuana than it is to use coffee or wine. Medicinal value of marijuana that cures hundreds of conditions also establishes the drug’s advantages that can prevent associated dangers with other drugs. Empirical studies, for example, have established significance of marijuana as a medicine for “Alzheimer’s disease,” “epilepsy,” “multiple sclerosis,” and “glaucoma” among other complications (Smith 1). Marijuana also helps in managing anxiety and depression, common complications in the society. From this perspective, it substitute chemically processed drugs that may be expensive and harmful and therefore facilitate quality of life.
Even though marijuana has been associated with complications, O’Connor (1) explains that this only occurs with extreme level of usage. Data from government office shows that regular smoking of marijuana does not have adverse effects on the lungs, even if such an application is prolonged. The drug is also gaining popularity and is no longer considered unethical, as many states have legalized it for medicinal use. In addition, states could not legalize the drug for medicinal use if it has adverse health effects (O’Connor 1). Consequently, medical disadvantages that may be raised against marijuana uses are not significant while its medicinal value is evident.
Opinion on legalization of marijuana has also transformed over the past seven decades. In the year 1969, for example, only 12 percent of people supported legalization of marijuana while 84 percent of people opposed legalization. The proponent side has however gained popularity and consistently expanded while that of proponents has consistently diminished. By the year 1985, the proportion of proponents of legalization had almost doubled to 23 percent while that of opponents had reduced by 11 percent. The change in public opinion continued, equalized by the year 2010 and proponents of marijuana legalization are currently more than the opponents are. Transition in opinion is also evident among political leaders as data from the years 2012 and 2013 shows increasing percentages of those who support legalization of the drug. Percentage of republicans in favor of legalization increased by two percent while percentage of democrats who support the legalization increased by four percent. Independent politicians have similarly been more liberal to the marijuana debate to support its legalization. The transition, by time is further evident in opinion by age group as younger generations are more liberal than older generations to support legalization of marijuana (Swift 1).
The debate on legalization of marijuana is a controversial one because of existence of opposing views. Legalization however has economic benefits through increased revenues to the government, creation of employment opportunities, expansion of cultivation of the Cannabis plant that is a source of income, and reduction of price of marijuana. The drug also has medicinal benefits as it is safe for use and helps in managing many complications. In addition, there has been a changing trend in opinion on the legalization debate. While a majority of people previous opposed legalization, the trend has changed and more people now support legalization.
Benson, Jonathan. “Hundreds of economists agree marijuana legislation could save U.S. taxpayers $ 13.7 billion per year.” Economy. 22, September 2012. Web. 8, April 2014.
Bradford, Harry. “14 ways marijuana legalization could boost the economy.” Huffington Post. 11, July, 2012. Web. 8 April 2014.
Dighe, Ranjit. “Legalize It — The Economic Argument.” Huffingpost. TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc. 30 January, 2014. Web. 11 March, 2014.
O’Connor, Anahad. “Moderate Marijuana Use Does Not Impair Lung Function, Study Finds.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company . 11 January, 2012. Web. 11 March, 2014.
Smith, Dave. “‘Medical’ Marijuana: 10 Health Benefits That Legitimize Legalization.” International Business Times. IBT Media Inc. 08 August, 2012. Web. 12 March, 2014.
Swift, Art. “For First Time, Americans Favor Legalizing Marijuana” Gallup. Gallup, Inc. 22 October, 2013. Web. 13 March, 2014
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