Will the legalization of certain drugs reduce the crime rate in the United States? This question has baffled United States lawmakers, reformists, and citizens alike for so long that many people probably consider it a rhetorical question. With this in mind, I think that the only solution would be to go to the research and see what studies would say about the dilemma. For this particular paper, I found some research that looked at the legalization of marijuana in the United States, and I think for all intents and purposes, it is the best drug to discuss in respect to legalization. To be completely honest, I think that marijuana should be legalized in our country. That is just a personal opinion that I’m sure is shared by the majority of kids my age.
Personally, I do not use marijuana for medical or medicinal purposes. However, at least fifty percent of the people that I associate with do use it, so I am familiar with it. One of the reasons that I think it should be legalized is the fact that alcohol is legal. In all of my experiences with the two drugs, I believe that the effects of alcohol definitely outweigh those of marijuana. Let’s just say that I would much rather be on the highway with someone who is stoned on pot than to be on the highway with someone who is really drunk. I also think that legalizing marijuana would cause the supply and demand to shift, and the price would plummet, alleviating the need for some to rob and kill for enough money to support their habit. I could argue my point for paragraphs, but instead, I will see what research says about it, and who knows, I may change my mind.
The article I used for this paper came from the June 1998 issue of The Journal of Legal Medicine. It is entitled Is the Debate a Smoke Screen for Movement Toward Legalization?” The author cites an episode of the sitcom Murphy Brown, where actress Candice Bergen smokes a joint on national television for medicinal purposes while suffering from breast cancer. The author believes that the nationally televised sitcom endorsed a drug that has not been accepted by the FDA yet and that the event may be a foreshadowing of the drug’s future in our country. In the article, the author posed the same question that we are faced with in this essay. The author believes that before the US legalizes the drug, they should look at another country’s experiences with crime where the drug is legal. In this particular case, he uses Holland as a comparison.
The statistics that he found were very shocking to me. The author of the article found that between 1984 and 1992, marijuana use among males between the ages of 12 and 18 increased by 277 percent. During this time, shootings increased 40 percent, car thefts increased 62 percent, and hold-ups increased 69 percent. Whether or not these statistics can be proven to be due to the legalization of marijuana is hard to prove, but they definitely make one think about it. Also in the article, the author reveals that 75 percent of criminal offenders in the United States believe that they were under some influence of marijuana at the time of the crime, and 7 percent of those who committed homicides believe their actions were directly related to their use of marijuana. Although there are flaws on both sides of the dispute, one of the strongest points to the anti-legalization movement is the argument that marijuana is a gateway drug which leads to the use of harder, more addictive drugs.
In this particular article, the author cites a study in which 20 percent of the persons studied who used marijuana were three to ten times more likely to go on to use cocaine, and 75 percent of persons who used marijuana 100 or more times later used cocaine. Another strong argument is that if the US legalizes the drug for medicinal purposes, then it will precipitate the legalization of marijuana on a higher, more recreational scale. So, the only thing that I can conclude is that the legalization of marijuana is a very problematic dilemma that the United States has been faced with for many years. Both sides have considerable arguments, but there is still so much controversy and gray area that follows the subject. Like most other Americans, I have difficulty taking either side.
I think that the only way to resolve the problem is to continue to research marijuana, its benefits, and its dangers, and see which ones outweigh the others. It is then, and only then, that lawmakers should make their ultimate decision about the fate of the drug in our country.
Bibliography: Is the Debate a Smoke Screen for Movement Toward Legalization?” The Journal of Legal Medicine, June 1998.