It’s hard to go a single day without stumbling upon an article, video, or television news show talking about the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana. Especially nowadays when the president (Barrack Obama) even says most of the mail they get it by young citizens writing about the legalization of marijuana. After decades of being stigmatized and penalized, marijuana has finally begun to be seen by, at least some, as less harmful than it was previously believed to be in the past. For some, it remains a polarizing hot button issue separating those that support the legalization and sell of marijuana from ardent defenders of the status quo. Marijuana remains one of the most popular recreational substances in the United States, only behind cigarettes and alcohol. Over seventeen million people in the United States are believed to use marijuana on a regular basis.
Lobbying for Marijuana
Alcohol and tobacco are currently legal in the United States even though both have been proven to be harmful and even fatal. Cigarettes account for 480,000 deaths a year and alcohol far exceeds that at 2.5 million deaths a year. All this is happening while marijuana still relates to 0 deaths a year nor is there a record death from pot. The reason these drugs are legal and marijuana is not has a lot to do with effective lobbying. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, is a not-for-profit lobbying agency based out of Washington D.C. The agency is focused on removing all legal penalties for the possession, growth, and use of marijuana by adults within the United States by lobbying to Congress for more reasonable regulations regarding marijuana.
Legalization and Decriminalization in the States
Currently, twenty-three states have legalized marijuana in some way or another whether it’s medicinally or recreationally. Even the nation’s capital Washington D.C. has legalized the substance yet the federal government still insists the substance remain criminalized on the federal level. Colorado and Washington have legalized the sale of marijuana to adults which has resulted in a major economic impact for both. Recently, Alaska, Washington D.C, and Oregon joined them too. Many believe that other states are not far behind them. Some studies claim to have the whole united stated legalized in the next 10 years.
Prison for Pot
A large percentage of the nation’s prison population are incarcerated for crimes involving marijuana. Over ninety percent of those in prison for marijuana are serving time for possession. Imprisoning people for nonviolent crimes involving marijuana has led to the destruction of many lives within the United States prompting both human rights and marijuana advocates (Including NORML) to take action for the reformation of current marijuana laws.
Common Sense of Marijuana
NORML, along with many marijuana advocates, believe that use of marijuana by anyone under the age of 18 should strictly be prohibited and that anyone caught selling marijuana to underage persons should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. They also believe that driving under the influence of marijuana should also strictly be prohibited.
Not the Gateway People Believe In
While many have made the claims that marijuana is a gateway drug to harder, more dangerous substances, many studies have been conducted to prove that this is simply not true. Others argue that it’s the prohibition of marijuana which causes users to seek it on the black market where other illicit substances can be obtained that is the actual gateway. Marijuana has not yet proven to be a non-addictive substance but studies have shown that it is much less addictive than currently legal substances like alcohol and tobacco. It has also been proven to be an effective medicinal property, even prescribed to cancer patients suffering from nausea and loss of appetite which are both normally experienced during chemotherapy.