The Debate About Making Marijuana Legal in the US

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The debate about making marijuana legal in the U.S and in individual states has been going on for a long time, but over the past few years has actually been making real progress. I think that Michigan should look at the benefits other states have experienced and seriously consider if something similar could work for us. There is a lot of money that could be made for the state and local governments, among several other upsides including freeing up space in prisons and allowing police to focus on other issues. Our currents laws trying to fight marijuana use have obviously not been working, so I think its time to change the way we approach this issue.

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Four states and Washington D.C have legalized marijuana over the past several years and they have been seeing large amounts of tax money come in because of it. Colorado collected almost $70 million in marijuana taxes during that time, nearly double the $42 million collected from alcohol taxes. (Basu) reports Time. Most people expect that number will keep rising as more people change from black markets to legal ones. This money can then be used to help fund things that could really use it, like education or road/transportation funds. Everyone who has lived here in Michigan for a few years has an intimate relationship with potholes, so Im sure people can get behind the government having more money to fix those roads. Now taxing marijuana and freeing up money spent on prisoners of marijuana related crimes would help a lot, but it wouldnt automatically fix our roads issues. Legislators have been fighting about how to fix this problem for years with nothing to show, but this could be a good starting point. Research shows that Michigan could make up to $122 million since we have a higher population than Colorado or Washington where most of the tax data has come from so far. (Rawes) If the roads issues are solved another way the money could easily go to education or other local government funds.

Another plus side of the legalization of marijuana is that it would take away money from black markets like the drug cartels of Mexico. Outlawing marijuana has only helped server to bolster the pockets of the cartels for years. Time says that Americans spend about $100 billion on illegal drugs every year, according to a White House report. The estimate puts marijuana at about 40% of this (Grillo) so if more states and the federal government legalize and tax marijuana it will cut into a large amount of their profits. It really makes no sense to give our money to vicious cartels instead of using that to help fund our own state and local governments. Legalized marijuana wouldnt just stop cartels right there, but there is no reason to help them either. The more states that keep legalizing marijuana, the more likely others would be to do so, like a domino effect. Which in my book is another reason for Michigan to legalize, it will be easier here than in the past since there are several other states out that have already accomplished this, and it will help make this easier for future states.

Getting marijuana legalized is a very realistic proposal, thoughtit will require some effort. I remember people always used to dismiss legalization as a pipedream, a waste of time, of something for those damn hippies to ramble on about, but with four states and Washington D.C on board if doesnt seem too unrealistic anymore. Michigan already has several initiative processes trying to get the issue on the 2016 ballots. All of the places where marijuana has been legalized has come through this initiative process, so these have shown they can work. This requires that people get out and sign these initiatives, and that the initiatives themselves have solid plans set up to tax, regulate and cultivate. In an article by mlive, they reported that Recent polling suggests roughly 50 percent of Michigan voters support the concept of legalization and taxation of marijuana. (Oosting) which means that this is still a fairly split issue, but those are solid numbers for legalizing and shows that this is an issue that should be taken seriously by both sides of the argument.

In the end I think that legalizing marijuana has more positives than negatives and could do a lot of good for our state if implemented. This issue has started to pick up real steam and there is a solid possibility that in more states than not marijuana is legalized in the next 10-15 years. More money for the states that doesnt have to come from fighting about which other budgets to slash could be a real boon to many areas. Prohibition proved not to work with alcohol and created more problems than it solved like creating the mafias, and I think its proving not to work here as well. Jails are filled up with marijuana related crimes causing over population but its not stopping many people from still using it. It is one the other hand funneling money into prisons, and the Mexican cartels which are probably even more dangerous than the mafia was at the height of its power. Most governments arent quick to keep up with the times but Michigan has a chances to be early to the game here, at least in the U.S, with several potential ballots later this year.

Works Cited

Basu, Tanya. "Colorado Raised More Tax Revenue From Marijuana Than Alcohol." Time. Time, 16 Sept. 2015. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.

Grillo, Ioan. "U.S. Legalization of Marijuana Has Hit Mexican Cartels' Cross-Border Trade." Time. Time, 8 Apr. 2015. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.

Rawes, Erika. "7 States That Would Earn the Most Money by Legalizing Marijuana." The Cheat Sheet. N.p., 13 Sept. 2015. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.

Oosting, Jonathan. "Michigan Marijuana Legalization Advocates Confirm Plans for 2016 Ballot Proposal." Mlive. N.p., 12 Mar. 2015. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.

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