For Recreational Marijuana Legalization Debate: For Legalization
The classification of marijuana as a schedule II drug makes it a criminal offense to produce, supply, or
use it except where permitted by the law. The access to marijuana in America has been made easier
through steps such as legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use and the decriminalization
of its production and use. Recreational marijuana is legalized for people 21 years of age and above in
a handful of countries across the globe such as Canada and Uruguay as well as in various America states
such as Washington, Alaska, and Ontario. Debates stemming from recreational marijuana legalization
are based on the benefits of the move as well as its public health effects.
Marijuana is one of the most widely used drugs globally for non-medical purposes, with an estimated
181.8 million consumers between the ages of 16 and 60 (Bennett & Walsh, 2014). It is, therefore,
evident that with stringent laws put in place, the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes
will open up a large market that could be explored for economic benefits such as jobs and taxes. It
would allow free access of marijuana to users, pushing the demand for the drug up. The effect would
be an increase in the production and supply of the drug to match this demand, creating numerous jobs
for licensed businesses and individuals that would also become a source of tax revenue for the
The huge number of imprisonments for minor drug offenses across the globe is clear evidence of the
failed war on drugs. Marijuana accounts for the largest percentage of minor drug offenses in the U.S.,
which has seen millions of American citizens spend time in prison. It is a cost to the human capital of
the country and eventually leads to loss of taxes. Many people are spending time in jail for minor
marijuana-related offenses instead of working. Legalizing marijuana is also a good way to minimize the
drug’s social impact on families. Families are broken when one or both parents are locked up in prison,
leaving children to look after themselves. Some end up on the streets while others fall into active
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, law enforcement has been accused of being racially biased when
enforcing marijuana prohibition. Legalizing the drug creates a safe, legal, and well-regulated system
for people over 21 to access and use the drug. This will promote balanced enforcement, reducing cases
of racial bias. It will also help control the quality of marijuana, increasing consumer safety. Testing of
the drug has become a common trend in legalized states to ensure consumers get a quality product.
The legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes has resulted in a huge increase in commercially
available marijuana, though it has also seen a decrease in treatment admissions (Maxwell & Mendelson,
2016). Numerous studies have repeatedly shown that acute marijuana use poses psychological and
physical health hazards to the user. Legalization of recreational marijuana will allow the user to use
the drug anywhere, either in public or private places. The drug is mostly consumed through
combustion, and smoke exposure for non-marijuana users poses second-hand intoxication, which leads
to health complications in the long run (Hall & Weier, 2015). Legislation to limit public use of
marijuana has been established, such as Smoke-free Ontario, but it seems ineffective in minimizing
public health risks.
Risks stemming from the acute toxicity of marijuana may be uncommon, but the drug is known to cause
a short-term effect on the user, similar to that observed in alcohol users. Alcohol and marijuana cause
psychomotor impairment, which could be dangerous for drivers driving under their influence. Countries
that have legalized marijuana either for medical or recreational use have reported an increase in
cannabis-related accidents. Most of the health risks associated with marijuana use arise from its longterm use. It's believed that a great percentage of regular marijuana users are highly likely to also use
other illicit drugs like alcohol and tobacco. The combination of these drugs, especially marijuana and
tobacco, causes an addictive effect, which accelerates the need to consume them (Akhigbe et al.,
Much of the debate about legalizing marijuana for recreational use is wedged between arguments
about the effects of the drug. It is clear that legalizing the drug presents both an economic advantage
and positive criminal justice consequences for society. However, we cannot ignore the adverse health
effects associated with the drug to users and also non-users. This is a debate that should be
approached with great care, and both sides of the argument should be carefully evaluated before
recreational marijuana legalization is considered.
Bennet, W., & Walsh, J. (2014). Marijuana legalization is an opportunity to modernize international
drug treaties. Center for Effective Public Management. Brookings, Washington.
Maxwell, J. C., & Mendelson, B. (2016). What do we know about the impact of laws related to
marijuana? Journal of Addiction Medicine,10(1). pp. 3-12.
Akhigbe, J., Ebbadi, V, Huynh, K., Leckie, J., Major, M., Robinson, C., Suarly, M., & Wasserstein, D.
(n.d.).The Public Health Implications of the Legalization of Recreational Cannabis. Ontario Public
Health Association (OPHA).
Re:Re:Recreational Marijuana Legalization Debate: For Legalization
It is true that marijuana causes acute psychological and physical health issues to the participant,
however, there is more data coming into light that suggests long term use of marijuana can cause
cognitive deficits. These cognitive deficits can impair the user’s memory, their ability to comprehend
material, and ultimately impact their life goals. The acute side effects such as euphoria, anxiousness,
and a sense of relaxation are not worth the long-term effects that marijuana can impose on an
individual. The Royal College of Psychiatrists (2017) state that if an individual starts smoking marijuana
at the age of fifteen, their chance of getting a psychotic illness can become above average (p.
1). Legalizing marijuana seems like the easy way out in regard to unlawful arrests and incarcerations
on minor drug problems. However, it will become more difficult to put laws in place and discern what
is appropriate. For example, what would be an acceptable amount of marijuana to smoke before
driving and how are police going to test for it if they get pulled over? Legalizing marijuana seems like
an answer to several problems, but it also unveils a lot of new problems that will have to be dealt with
Royal College of Psychiatrists. (2017). Cannabis and mental health. Retrieved from
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