Moving towards marijuana legalization

There are now four states where marijuana is legal for recreational use: Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

Comparing the two: More teens admit to underage drinking than marijuana use. Infographic courtesy of
Comparing the two: More teens admit to underage drinking than marijuana use.
Infographic courtesy of

Medical marijuana is legal in 21 states including California, but only two of these states, Arizona and Delaware, have laws that protect workers from getting fired or failing a drug test according to No state has a law that protects recreational users.

Legalizing marijuana means that its sales could be taxed. In the month of July, Colorado alone brought in over $7 million in marijuana taxes according to

According to the financial site NerdWallet, legalizing marijuana in all 50 states would bring in over $3 billion a year in taxes. The state that would bring in the most money would be California. It is projected to bring in more than $519 million per year. This is if tax is 15 percent.

Sales tax money goes toward helping public schools, universities, courts and state police to name a few. There are many schools in California that could benefit from receiving a part of $519 million.

Another issue is overpopulation in United States prisons. How many of those were arrested for marijuana?

In 2012, 749,825 people were arrested for a marijuana law violation according to, and only 658,231 of those people were arrested for possession of marijuana.

Tax dollars are being used to house these people in prison. According to, a nationwide legalization of marijuana would save the government $8.7 billion each year. This will also give police officers more time to go after criminals with a more violent background.

Why is alcohol legal in the United States when marijuana is not? Close to 88,000 people die from alcohol each year making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. In 2012 alcohol impaired driving fatalities had 10,322 deaths close to 31 percent of all driving fatalities.

Alcohol affects every organ in the body which can also lead to cancer, stroke and liver disease, according to

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2011 55 percent of drug overdoses deaths were related to prescription medication. It is very unlikely to overdose on marijuana.

Marijuana has also been known to reduce nausea, decrease pain, inflammation and spasticity, according to

Tetrahdyrocannabinol or THC can be found in marijuana however there are already approved medications with THC in them for these purposes. THC is also being tested to treat autoimmune diseases, substance use disorders and other psychiatric disorders.

The government can also put an age limit on purchasing marijuana like they do alcohol. People are going to find ways to get marijuana even if it is not always the safest way. Purchasing marijuana in the streets is dangerous and sometimes it could be laced with other toxic drugs. If the government legalized marijuana they would be able to monitor their product.

People who are against smoking marijuana will not all of a sudden change their mind just because it is legal.


Chris Whitmer

Published November 19, 2014