As evidenced by the legalization of marijuana in several states, many Americans are becoming more sympathetic with it. But it is still a complex legal issue, and there are a few legal facts for people to understand about marijuana.
Legalization Is Not An Ethical Issue
Something that restrains many Americans from conceding the legalization of marijuana is their own personal ethical stance. Even if it is wrong, that is irrelevant to the legalization of marijuana. The issue is whether people should be free to make their own choices (even choices that you regard as irresponsible). If you were on the verge of making a bad decision, the last thing that you would want is for some government agent to knock on your door and arrest you.
The Broken Window Theory Does Not Work
The Broken Window Theory is the idea that if police officers arrest small time weed smokers, people will be compelled to avoid the so-called gateway drug, hence reducing drug use altogether. The problem with the Broken Window Theory is that it does not work. The police force tooling up to fight the drug war only results in non-violent offenders behind bars for years. Far from rehabilitating these individuals, it ruins their lives, giving them a criminal record, and reinforcing their commitment to the black market.
Beyond ruining individual lives, there are serious social consequences to the Broken Window Theory. It typically results in over-policing minority neighborhoods. This creates a deep divide between the police force and the citizens. If the police force is going to be effective, they need the respect of the community. But it is difficult to garner that respect when they are sending kids to jail for holding a bag of pot.
Legalization Could Reduce Violence
While some politicians may suggest that the drug industry is inherently violent, there is ample evidence to the contrary. The pharmaceutical industry is one piece of evidence. If there is a market for something illegal, it will be sold on the black market. Items sold on the black market often come with violence. When alcohol was illegal, the sale on the black market instantly became a violent industry. When it was legalized again, the violence dissipated.
Something similar can be said about marijuana. Experts anticipate that if and when marijuana is fully legalized, sale on the black market will dwindle into irrelevancy and the violence will cease.
Overall, one’s personal opinion of marijuana usage is irrelevant. People need to think about social consequences of locking up kids for having a bag of pot. There is a reason that there is violence in the marijuana industry. It is called a drug war for a reason.