The debate over drug legalization rages white-hot but not along clear partisan lines. The majority of Americans favor legalization as they believe it would boost the economy while having a negligible effect on the rest of society and should not be a matter arbitrated by the government. Those against it seek to undermine this line of thinking with a heavy emphasis on the damage it will do to society as a whole.
Many who are pro-legalization realize the economic implications of opening up an entirely new sector in the market. Several states have already legalized recreational drugs and thus serve as relevant case studies for what could happen if this plan were instituted nationally. Many believe that legalizing recreational drugs improves the economy by providing investment opportunities and increasing job growth. If made legal, it would allow investors to capitalize on the development of the industry. RCG Economics and Marijuana Policy Group produced a study on Nevada saying that the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state could create over 41,000 jobs till 2024 and $1.7 billion in labor income. An ICF study predicted exponentially greater values for California. Nationally, 1 million jobs could be created with federal legalization. Legalization is also a positive for the government's budget, as it allows a previously illegal, untaxed segment of the economy to generate taxable income. Legalizing marijuana could potentially destroy the black market for it if government regulations are not too strict. Proponents argue that this Democratic republic should represent its citizens' views; public support for legalization has risen from 12% in 1969 to 66% today. Marijuana supporters also argue the drug decreases crime because people are less likely to drink alcohol, which is ten times more effective at increasing the rate of violent crime.
Most people against the legalization of marijuana point out the adverse effects of weed and other drugs, arguing that selling it would be irresponsible. Multiple studies, including one from the National Epidemiological, found that marijuana is a "gateway drug," which leads users to try other, more harmful substances. The study showed that the use of weed also increases people's likelihood of becoming addicted to alcohol and other drugs. Some opponents of legalization also argue that the homeless population will increase concurrently with more alcohol and drug addicts. A study by the National Coalition for the Homeless showed that 26% of homeless people are addicted to harmful substances, and 38% are addicted to alcohol. This would be detrimental to the economy because there would be fewer people working. It would also lead to even worse conditions for the average American, for drug and alcohol addiction is correlated to crime, including violence and driving accidents.
Many people also argue that the legalization of marijuana would lead to less freedom, not more. Drug dependency removes the ability to think and act independently, a tragic condition that marijuana legalization would make all the more common.
- Should marijuana be federally legalized?
- Which is more harmful to society, alcohol or marijuana?
- Should alcohol be legal?
- What about other toxic substances, like sugar?
- Do you think legalizing marijuana will have an impact on the day-to-day for many Americans?
Krishna, Mrinalni. “The Economic Benefits of Legalizing Weed.” Investopedia, 2019. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/insights/110916/economic-benefits-legalizing-weed.asp.
Murray, Krystina. “Homelessness and Addiction - AddictionCenter.” AddictionCenter, 2017. https://www.addictioncenter.com/addiction/homelessness/.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?” Drugabuse.gov, 2018. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-gateway-drug.
ProCon.org. “Recreational Marijuana ProCon.org.” Procon.org, 2016. https://marijuana.procon.org.