Decriminalize Marijuana for the Good of America
Currently, drugs remain high on the lists of concerns of Americans and are
considered one of the major problems facing our country today.
We see stories on
the news about people being killed on the street every day over drugs.
people drugs are only an inner-city problem, but in reality they affect all of us -
users and non-users.
I believe that the negative affects we associate with drugs
would be greatly reduced if the United States adopted a policy towards the total
decriminalization of marijuana.
The current drug policy of our government is
Drug laws have created corruption, violence, increased street
crime, and disrespect for the criminal justice system.
Current drug legislation
has failed to reduce demand.
It's just too hard to monitor illegal substances when
a significant portion of the population is committed to using drugs. (Inciardi and
Marijuana comes from the hemp plant, which can readily be grown on fields
across the nation and was cultivated heavily in colonial period.
After 130 years
of being legal, the potential problems of marijuana were brought into the public
eye by Harry J. Anslingler, the commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and
author of Marijuana: Assassin of Youth (Goldman 88).
In his book, Anslinger
portrayed images of Mexican and Negro criminals, as well as young boys, who became
killers while under the influence of marijuana.
With the added public pressure,
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.
This law made the use and dale of marijuana federal offenses.
At this point
marijuana was removed from the public eye, and heavy users included poor Negroes,
migrant Mexicans, and Jazz Musicians (Himmelstein 3).
Marijuana reappeared in the mid 1960's with the emergence of the "Hippie."
Widespread objection to the use of marijuana remained because of the set of valued
and lifestyles associated with it, but use appeared in colleges and among middle-
class youths in the suburbs (Himmelstein 103).
Marijuana became a symbol of a
counter-culture, and youthful rebellion.
As a consequence, marijuana use rose for
the next ten years.
Marijuana was becoming more accepted across the nation.
the users of Marijuana changed, the attitudes about the danger of
In 1970, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act reduced the
classification of simple possession and non-profit distribution from felonies to
misdemeanors (Himmelstein 104).
This was a good start.
However, President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs in 1973 and over the
next 20 years, each succeeding president continued to escalate the drug war.
policy has obviously done nothing to stop the recreational use of drugs in this
country, on the contrary it is causing great harm.
It's time to try something new.
When most people imagine the legalization of marijuana, they fear a marijuana