Why is marijuana illegal? Is it economically necessary to outlaw it or are the reasons medical? Or are we living according to the laws based on the distant past? As the age of availability of information advances, it becomes more and more obvious to everyone that the marijuana prohibition policy is both economically and medically deprived of logic, and therefore should be finally recognized as obsolete.
All governments worldwide have at some point invested the effort to organize a massive propaganda on how harmful drugs are in response to the organized drug crime. The result is that nowadays most people drink up the elementary school propaganda on drugs and stay comfortable with this level of knowledge for life. This prevents documents like the J. Miron report from raising awareness; it even shocking facts from being at least mildly known. Economical legend Milton Friedman, backed by more than 500 economists like the Noble Laureate George Akerlof backed legalization and signed a letter to the government requesting to finally have an open, fair discussion on the topic. In this letter, they mention their estimated economical effect of a hypothetical legalization; according to them, it would save the U.S. government $7.7 billion per year from expenses like prison inmates, of which marijuana prohibition generates hundreds of thousands yearly in U.S.A. Legalization would also generate $2.4 billion of tax revenue if marijuana is taxed like a consumer good, and up to $6.2 billion if taxed like tobacco and alcohol (Moffatt). Their statistics go on and on about similar effects on crime rates and even on usage rates. Apparently, a group of more than 500 world-renowned scientists means as much as a crowd of poster-waiving potheads for the government: nothing.
One might argue that the main reason for the prohibition of marijuana is, after all, medical, and therefore any economic evidence is irrelevant. Well, let us assume the government is trying to protect people’s health. So far, a few substantial facts about marijuana have been scientifically proven. First, while there are registered death cases from alcohol poisoning, there is not a single death case from marijuana overdose for one very simple reason: it is physically impossible to intake enough marijuana in order to overdose (MacCoun). The substance is not potent at all. Furthermore, while there are still debates about the claim that cannabis is not addictive at all, it is a proven fact that it is not more addictive than tobacco or cigarettes, the two legal drugs. Then, marijuana is said to be three to four times more cancerogenous than cigarettes, but for that one does not need science to realize: even if a person smokes marijuana once a day, still, how many cigarettes per day does the average smoker chain up? Therefore, my question remains: where is the actual medical basis for the ongoing prohibition?
Summing up, it suddenly turns out that the reasons behind marijuana prohibition, unlike any other drug, are neither economical nor medical. So, how come it is still illegal? I believe marijuana prohibition is based merely on misperceived morals, the millennia of tobacco and alcohol presence in various cultures, and the same millennia of cannabis absence in those same cultures. So, it is time to stop living in the inertia of the distant past and to make use of the new information available in order to bring about the obviously logical changes.
- Moffatt, Mike. “Time to Legalize Marijuana? – 500+ Economists Endorse Marijuana Legalization.” About.com. http://economics.about.com/od/incometaxestaxcuts/a/legalize_p ot.htm. May 9, 2009.
- MacCoun, Robert J. “American Distortion of Dutch Drug Statistics.” Vol. 38: March 2001. 1936-4725 (Online). http://www.springerlink.com/content/4bl4r65mxmh7rwd8/ May 9, 2009.