211 Marijuana Essay Topics & Examples

Should marijuana be legalized? This question is controversial and worth discussing!

🔝 Top 10 Marijuana Research Topics

🌱 marijuana essay: how to write, 🏆 best marijuana essay examples.

  • 💡Interesting Cannabis Topics to Write about

🥇 Exciting Marijuana Essay Topics

🎓 controversial weed topics, 🔎 marijuana research paper topics, ❓ marijuana research questions.

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is a psychoactive drug made from a plant and used for recreational and medical purposes. Being fully prohibited in some countries, it is fully legalized in others. In your essay about marijuana, you might want to focus on the pros and cons of its legalization. Another option is to discuss marijuana dependence. One more idea is to compare and contrast marijuana laws in various US states. Finally, you can discuss the business aspects of the issue.

Whether you have to write an argumentative, descriptive, or cause and effect essay, our article will be helpful. It contains marijuana topics to research and write about. You can use them for a paper, speech, or any other assignment. Best marijuana essay examples are added to inspire you even more.

  • Mental and physical effects of cannabis
  • Marijuana and mental ability: the correlation
  • Cannabis consumption: the key modes
  • Marijuana: short-term and long-term effects
  • Cannabis and reproductive health
  • History of cannabis
  • Legal status of marijuana in various countries: compare and contrast
  • Should cannabis be legalized?
  • Cannabis as a gateway drug
  • The use of marijuana for medical purposes

With the current-day process of drug legalization and the popularization of cannabis, writing a marijuana essay becomes more than a one-track, anti-drug endeavor.

Whether your stance is for or against recreational drug use, you should be able to call upon credible sources to form a well-rounded and informed opinion that may sway your readers toward your cause.

Starting from your pre-writing process and bibliography and until you write your conclusion, you need to keep in mind particular points that will make tackling any marijuana essay topics easy. From a structural and pre-writing viewpoint, you should:

  • Brainstorm your ideas. Doing so will allow you to decide on a particular approach to your subject.
  • Do your research, compiling your bibliography, and perusing various book and journals titles, as well as research papers, interviews, and statistics.
  • Utilizing authoritative sources to support your argument will make your writing more academic and respectable.
  • Write a marijuana essay outline, which should help you better your essay structurally.
  • Compose an eye-catching title. Marijuana essay titles are already intriguing, so do your best not merely to draw your readers in but to prepare them for your argument by demonstrating your stance on the topic.

If you are still not sure how to begin your paper, look for sample ones online. Searching for good examples will help you understand the tools that work in essay writing, which ones you can apply to your issue, and which bore the audience.

Just remember that plagiarism is a punishable offense. However, gaining some inspiration from the work of others is not!

Now you are ready to begin, having carried out the research and created guidelines for your writing process. However, an intriguing title and an issue that may easily excite people is not enough to convince your readers of your subject’s validity.

Nonetheless, the potentially provocative nature of your paper provides you with the ability to write a fail-safe marijuana essay hook. Your introduction should build upon the sentiment expressed in your title and give your audience an initiative to read further.

You can start by providing surprising statistics or describing a present drug scenario. The goal of writing an introduction is to give your readers a brief understanding of your issue and present them with partial facts, making them want to continue reading.

Do not be afraid to expand your topics and link various data together while keeping in mind an academic approach.

Adverse societal effects of marijuana use may include an increase in the number of car accident cases, especially if there is no culture of safety around recreational drug use. However, trying to link it to society’s degradation may require more evidence than mere statistics.

Understand which approach is more likely to convince your audience and be ready to respond to potential counterarguments to your facts. Treating your audience as knowledgeable is one of the central characteristics of a good essayist.

Remember to write only sentences that are relevant to your argument. A sound mental practice when writing an essay is to continuously ask yourself, whether each phrase relates to your thesis statement.

If yes, does it help advance it forward? If the answers for these questions is no, you may have to rephrase, remove, or even re-research your facts to demonstrate a compelling understanding of the issue.

Need more essential tips to get your essay started? Use IvyPanda for all your academic needs!

  • Reason Why Marijuana Should Be Legal This is an important consideration since data on the prevalence of Marijuana indicates that the US is still the world’s largest single market for the drug.
  • Alcohol and Drugs Effects on High School Students According to Martin, “society also advertises the image of individual and social happiness for alcohol and drug users; this misconception results in the societal decrease of achievement, especially, of high school age students”.
  • Advantages and Disadvantages of Marijuana Countries including Netherlands, Israel and Canada have lenient laws regarding the use of marijuana, cases in point that proponents of its legalisation have used to highlight the merits of legalising it.
  • Legalizing Marijuana: Pros and Cons The focus of this paper will be on the impact of the legalization of the U.S.economy with possible positive and negative sides of the matter.
  • Legalization of Marijuana: Arguments For and Against It will therefore be difficult to regulate the use of marijuana among young people and other unauthorized people if it is legalized. It should be noted that marijuana has various negative effects to the health […]
  • How Does Marijuana Affect the Brain? One of the profound findings of the studies is on the negative effects of marijuana on the brain. Research findings on the brain show that abuse of marijuana for a long time affects the brain […]
  • Should Marijuana Be Legal? It is perhaps very essential to be acquainted with an account of laws that surround marijuana in order to understand the reasons why the drug ought to be legalized.
  • Marijuana and Its Effects on Mental Health The effects of the use of marijuana can be comparable to those exhibited by the removal of this important part of the brain.
  • Medical Marijuana Legalization by National Football League However, it must be realized that some of these players are usually in excruciating pain to the point that some may have lost consciousness.
  • Usage and Effects of Marijuana In the modern world, more and more countries are recognizing the role of cannabis in bringing benefits to the population. For the purposes of better understanding the drug and navigating the modern realities, it is […]
  • Political Opinion on Legalization of Marijuana On the other hand, the case introduces the man as a member of the Methodist Church, and this community is known for its strict opinion about marijuana as a gateway drug.
  • Discretion Powers Regarding Marijuana Laws Albeit, marijuana laws in New York are favorable for the users as marijuana was fully legalized in March of 2021, allowing for both medical and recreational use.
  • Marijuana as an Alternative Medication for Pain Relief The PICOT question for the identified health care issue is the following: in a patient population requiring pain relief, does marijuana represent a viable alternative medication as compared to opioid-based prescription drugs for alleviating the […]
  • Marijuana: Properties, Effects, and Regulation At the same time, a regulated cannabis industry slowly emerges, with companies attempting to profit off of the legalization and destigmatization of marijuana.
  • Preventing Negative Effects of Marijuana Use The aim of the study is to ascertain specific interventions that would allow reducing cannabis use within the framework of the environment where marijuana is legal.
  • Analysis of Arguments: Should Marijuana Be Legalized? Pro Arguments: The majority of Americans agree on the necessity to legalize marijuana. This initiative is accompanied by concerns regarding the actual use of marijuana.
  • Risks and Benefits of Medical Marijuana The use of marijuana in the medical sphere is a highly debated and discussed topic. Patients with epilepsy claim that the use of marijuana prevents seizures and provides immense relief.
  • Medical Marijuana: Issues & Ethical Considerations The use of medical marijuana in anxiety disorders and PTSD has many concerns. Prescribing medical cannabis can potentially benefit a patient but can cause additional health and legal issues.
  • The Benefits of Medical Marijuana This paper aims to discuss that medical marijuana is helpful in the treatment and management of chronic pain conditions such as cancer and epilepsy.
  • The Issue of Legalization of Marijuana The issue of the legalization of marijuana in the territory of the state is not unambiguous, therefore it is analyzed by a large number of specialists.
  • Synthetic Marijuana: Physiological and Social Factors The report generated by Drug and Alcohol Dependence article in the year 2010 showed that the majority of the people who used synthetic marijuana were between the ages of 12 to 29.
  • Cannabis or Marijuana for Medical Use In the West, for the first time, medical use became known thanks to the work of Professor O’Shaughnessy, who personally observed the process of her treatment in India.
  • Marijuana Research: Personal Connection and Medical Use In the United States, military marijuana is prohibited, but initially, it was used for recreation and as a form of medicine in the twentieth century.
  • Marijuana Possession in a High-School Student Case Her participation in the program will be an educational experience and put the juvenile offender in touch with professionals who can understand the motives of her behavior instead of giving Jane Doe an actual criminal […]
  • Marijuana Legitimization and Medical Controversy The proponents of the legitimization of marijuana for medical use argue that it has numerous medical uses. Currently, in the US, there is a rather peculiar situation with the legalization of marijuana for medical use.
  • Workplace Policy on Marijuana Use in Michigan The legalization and decriminalization of marijuana use in 23 states of the US lead to complicated issues when it comes to the consideration of workplace policies.
  • Law: Legislation Regarding Marijuana Farming To evaluate the applicability of the proposed marijuana farming bill, the current marihuana production legislation needs to be reviewed, and the changes in social norms regarding criminal behavior are to be analyzed.
  • Marijuana Legalization: Controversial Issue in Canada Canada became the second country in the world to legalize the cultivation and consumption of cannabis in 2018. Besides, the substance is addictive, and it is challenging to stop consuming it.
  • Marijuana: Myths and Legal Justification Over the past decades, much attention has been drawn to the question of the categorization of marijuana in terms of the national systematization of drugs controlled by the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
  • Marijuana Legalization and Issues to Consider If marijuana is fully legalized, there might be a rise in use among youth, which is dangerous from the physiological point of view, and there will be no legal justification to end it.
  • Hip-Hop and Marijuana Use in College Students It has been estimated that over half of the college student population regularly use marijuana, while over 25% used it during past month.
  • Marijuana Use among American and Bolivian Students The study is a perfect example of the use of theory in a research. As such, it is possible for college students in Bolivia to have a similar deviant behavior, which in this case is […]
  • The Relationships Between Marijuana and the Legal System The most common ideas discussed within a framework of this debate are connected to the issues of permission to keep marijuana at home for personal needs such as medical needs, and a total ban on […]
  • Should Marijuana Be a Medical Option? Medical marijuana is used to refer to the use of marijuana as a physician-recommended form of medication in its natural or synthetic form.
  • Use of Marijuana for the Medicinal Purposes It is therefore quite evident that even though the marijuana legalization will go hand in hand with a set minimum age within which individuals will be allowed to use it, at the long run the […]

💡 Interesting Cannabis Topics to Write about

  • The Medicinal Value of the Marijuana: There Are Potential Benefits to a Patient Other Than Risks This article provides an insight to the effects of chemotherapy treatment to the body of the cancer victims. It defines the drug in a lengthy way including what the drug is, the effects of taking […]
  • Pros and Cons of Legalization of Medical Marijuana It is evident that medical treatment with the use of marijuana would be beneficial for both: patients and the government because of the opportunity to earn on taxation.
  • Legalization of Recreational Use of Marijuana The role of the Supreme Court in the specified case boils down to stating the conditions, in which the prescription and the following use of marijuana by the patient, can be deemed as legitimate.
  • The Chances of a Successful Appeal by a Marijuana Convict The Superior Court ruled that the Fourth Amendment rights of the defendant were violated; a decision that was upheld by the Court of Appeal.
  • Marijuana Legalization: Chronic Seizure Treatment With that said, despite numerous states already having legalized one or both applications, the federal government remains opposed to either form of legalization, and marijuana possession and use remain federal offenses.
  • Adverse Effects of Marijuana Use This paper aims to provide an analysis of the article that gives a perspective on the adverse health effects and harm related to marijuana use. Thus, the academic article on the adverse effects of marijuana […]
  • “Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use” by Volkow et al. Based on national marijuana studies and DSM-IV, the researchers conclude that addiction to marijuana is a non-debatable statement and that starting marijuana use in adolescence doubles or even quadruples the risks of cannabis use disorder.
  • Marijuana Use May Double the Risk of Accidents for Drivers According to the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the number of Americans driving under the influence of illegal substances has risen drastically. The risk of a crash is also related to the number of […]
  • Legalized Marijuana: Negative and Positive Sides The economy and finance from the very beginning were anticipating that this law will bring the largest income to the state’s budget and create plenty of job opportunities under the rule of law.
  • Marijuana: Legislative History and Future The focus of the legislation in many states is to end the illegal sale of cannabis and monetize it for tax purposes and so that distribution can be controlled.
  • Ethical Perspective of the Legalization of Marijuana In spite of a popular view of the medical benefits of marijuana, doctors insist that the use of marijuana provides the same dangerous effect as other drugs.
  • Marijuana Legalize: Advanatages and Disadvantages The truth that marijuana is illegal and prohibited is suitably caused by the number of funds invested in the war against drugs.
  • Arguments for Banning the Legalization of Marijuana Marijuana is a dangerous drug that should not be legalized even if it is in the context of it containing the medicinal value.
  • Federalism and Medical Marijuana Needless to say, United States faced political and social challenges as well, and the disputes over federalism and over the legal use of marijuana in medicine are still the most burning and controversial issues in […]
  • The Effects of Marijuana on the Body, Mind and Brain Cells A drug is a substance that changes the bodily function of a body when consumed, there are several definitions of the word drug but it is believed that the most important function of a drug […]
  • College Students in UK and Marijuana The reasons for the punishments are very different but the result remains the same: marijuana is still used by the majority of students and is available for everyone.
  • Decriminalizing Marijuana for Medicinal Use Because of inconsistent and problematical data, it is impracticable to access quantitatively to what extent that drugs encourage the incidence of crime.
  • Psychological Effects of Marijuana Some people experience panic reactions, which tend to be temporary and often are triggered by a feeling of not being in control Marijuana’s psychological effects include a sense of euphoria or well-being, relaxation, altered time […]
  • Logical Benefits of Legalizing Marijuana This will be a source of revenue to the government; when the revenues increase, it means that gross domestic product for the country increases. It will be a source of income not only to the […]
  • Social Effects of Marijuana Research has shown that the use of marijuana affects the smoker’s day-to-day lifestyle in relation to society, the environment, and day-to-day activities.
  • Federal vs. State Law: Medical Marijuana in the US The main problem is that these laws and regulations have not reduced the number of people who use marijuana for medical purposes.
  • Medical Marijuana: Pros of Legalizing It must be admitted that at the time of the passage of these laws, histories from some, but not all, heroin users indicated that the use of marijuana had preceded the use of heroin.
  • Marijuana: To Legalize or Not to Legalize? Marijuana, which is also known under dozens of nicknames such as weed or pot, is now the most widespread illegal drug across the US. Moreover, the vast majority of marijuana abusers claim pot to be […]
  • Marijuana Legalization and Consumption Among Youth The most popular excuse among drug consumers is the instrumental use of the drug. As long as the drug influence is undermined, the number of college students willing to experience the marijuana effects will be […]
  • Legalization of Medical Marijuana: Help or Harm? Nowadays, a majority of people worldwide support the legalization of marijuana, and it is possible to predict that this support will keep getting stronger in the future.
  • Medical Marijuana Legalization Concerns This change raises political concerns and requires the government to review its economy to adapt to the use of MM. The representation of the legal process highlighted the history of previous legislations and reported on […]
  • Medical Marijuana: Legal and Research Concerns However, while the purpose of recreational marijuana is often disconnected from its long-term effects on people’s health in scholarly discussions, the use of medical marijuana is viewed from the point of patient’s health and the […]
  • Medical Marijuana in the Army: Addressing a Problematic Issue Denying the use of medicinal marijuana as one of the fastest and the most efficient ways of relieving pain in the military setting, one will inevitably infringe upon the rights of American troops.
  • Should Marijuana Be Legalized? Marijuana legalization is a topic of social trends and beliefs that are based not only on health but political and economic factors as well.
  • Marijuana Legalization and Its Benefits for Society The example of several states that have already introduced the appropriate law provides the ground for vigorous debates about the absence of the expected deterioration of the situation and emergence of multiple problems associated with […]
  • Marijuana Legalization in 5 Policy Frameworks The legalization of marijuana is still one of the debatable issues at the federal and state levels. For instance, the use of marijuana is prohibited at the federal level while the recreational and medical use […]
  • Marijuana Legalization in California The muscle relaxation effect of marijuana also appears to be a positive effect that should be used to argue for its legalization.
  • Legalization of Marijuana in the United States It should not be forgotten that it is a cause of numerous tragedies. Also, some studies show that the use of marijuana is especially dangerous for young people.
  • Marijuana: Users, Desired Effects and Consequences The frequent users consist of youths and adults who have abused Marijuana to the extent they have become dependent on it.
  • Effects of Marijuana on Memory of Long-Term Users The pivotal aim of the proposed study is to evaluate the impact of marijuana use on long-term memory of respondents. The adverse impact of marijuana after the abstinent syndrome refers to significant changes in prefrontal […]
  • Trends in the Use of Marijuana The researchers claim that the legalization of marijuana in California led to the development of the acceptance of marijuana use as well as the increase in this drug consumption.
  • Medical Marijuana Legalization Rebuttal The claim of fact is that A.C.A.continues to be beneficial despite the arguments of Republican politicians and current challenges. The claim of policy is the appeal to Republicans and Democrats to work together on the […]
  • Marijuana Legislation and Americans’ Contribution To identify whether patients with intractable pain hold more favorable views regarding legislation of marijuana use than the general public, it is necessary to determine various inclusion and exclusion criteria that might influence the society’s […]
  • Medical Marijuana Policy and Framing Approach This is a clear indication that different arguments can be presented by these actors to support the legalization and use of medical marijuana.
  • Policy Analysis: Rules for Growing Medical Marijuana Overall, the main goal of the document is to address the health needs of people requiring marijuana to relieve the manifestations of their illness as well as the implications of growing marijuana for medical purposes.
  • Marijuana Crime in California State and Federal Courts To compare the severity of the punishment that could be imposed by a federal court to what was announced at a state institution, it should be remembered that the investigation process would not take long […]
  • Legal Marijuana Market Analysis and Taxes Impact Consequently, the primary goal of this paper is to understand the impact of taxes on the financial stability of the market for legal marijuana with the help of the law of supply and demand and […]
  • Controversy Around Medical Marijuana Legalization The consideration of the problem of marijuana legalization from the perspective of public safety involves such points as crime rates and traffic accidents. The fact of economic benefits of the Cannabis legalization is also apparent: […]
  • The Legalization of Marijuana: Regulation and Practice It is imperative to note that legalization of marijuana is a topic that has been quite controversial and has led to numerous discussions and disagreements.
  • Marijuana History, Medical Purposes and Threats Although many people believe that marijuana is harmless and the access to it should be unlimited, it has a number of negative health effects and might lead to addiction.
  • Marijuana Use and Serious Mental Illnesses 21% of the respondents of 18 years and above claimed to have used marijuana for the first time prior to their 12th birthday.
  • Marijuana as an Unjustifiable Pain Reliever The debate on whether to legalize the use of marijuana has been there for the last 20 years. In addition to this, it causes panic and anxiety hence causing the user to hallucinate.
  • The Safety of Using Medicinal Marijuana for Pain Relief Speaking about the introduction section of the study, it is important to note that it is rather short if compared to other parts of the article as the researchers were paying more attention to presenting […]
  • Should Marijuana Be Treated Like Alcohol? Considering the benefits that would accompany the legalization of marijuana and its treatment like alcohol, I strongly agree with Buckley’s comparison; marijuana should be treated like alcohol. First, the use of marijuana affects the body […]
  • Political Issues of Marijuana in America The largest demographic groups against the legalization of marijuana include the Republicans and the southerners. Most of the Democrats continue to support the legalization of marijuana in the country.
  • Changes in Laws of Marijuana Regulation In addition, the study intends to uncover the impacts of the said laws and the accompanying changes. The case studies will be compared to assess the impacts of legislations on marijuana in the society.
  • Concepts of Legalizing Marijuana Although in most cases, most individuals associate Marijuana with numerous health complications and social problems, for example, brain damage, and violent behavior hence, supporting its illegalization, such individuals take little consideration of its significance in […]
  • Marijuana Legalization in Illinois The case for legalization of marijuana in Colorado evidences the need to alter federal laws prohibiting marijuana for its legalization law to have both statutory and federal backing in the state of Illinois.
  • Public Safety and Marijuana Legalization Some of the states have failed to tax marijuana. Hence, it is difficult to get the precise figures in terms of tax values that states could collect from marijuana.
  • Heroin and Marijuana Abuse and Treatment The success in the process of drug addiction treatment is only possible when the patient is willing to co-operate and has a desire to recover and defeat the habit.
  • The Marijuana Usage Legislation This research paper is aimed at discussing the effects that can be produced by the changes in the legislation on the use, storage, and distribution of marihuana.
  • Medical Marijuana Program in California The physicians should also do a periodic review of the treatment and how the patients respond to the medical marijuana. The medical marijuana is only restricted to patients who are qualified and recommended by a […]
  • History and Effects of Legalization of Marijuana As predicted, the legalization of marijuana in several states has led to an increase of marijuana abuse among youngsters Studies have shown a pattern of the use of cannabis and risky behavior of the individuals.
  • Debates Around Legalization of Medical Marijuana The supporters and opponents of the legalization of marijuana have opted to focus on either the positive or the negative aspects of the effects of the drug to support their views on policies to legalize […]
  • Federal Drug Laws vs. State Medical Marijuana Acts A senate bill for the case of Los angeles is on the process of considering the use of marijuana for medical purpose.
  • The Use of Marijuana and Its Benefits Criminalization of the use of marijuana and negative reviews as well as negative exposure from the media has driven marijuana use to the black markets with often negative consequences to the economy and society.
  • Medical Marijuana use for Terminal Colon Cancer The author hopes to use this paper to highlight the uses of marijuana in management of colon cancer at its terminal stage.
  • How New York Would Benefit From Legalized Medical Marijuana The arrests resulting from possession of marijuana in New York is quite huge compared to those in California and New Jersey states in America.
  • Should Be It Legal to Sell the Marijuana in the United States? What I want to know is the reasons of why so many people use such serious psychoactive drug as marijuana of their own accord and do not want to pay special attention to their activities […]
  • Supporting of Marijuana Legalization Among the Adult Population Proponents argue that legalization of marijuana will lead to increased revenues for the government amid economic challenges. Legalizing marijuana will not lead to cancer and deaths but will spark the debate for apparent effects of […]
  • Marijuana: The Issues of Legalization in the USA To understand all the possible effects of the marijuana legalization, it is necessary to pay attention to the definition and classification of the drug with references to determining the most important social and legal aspects […]
  • Reasons for Legalization of Marijuana The legalization of the drug would bring to an end the discrimination of the African Americans in marijuana-related arrests, reduce the sales of the drug and its use among teenagers, encourage the development of hemp […]
  • Legalizing Marijuana: Arguments and Counter-Arguments On the other hand, many groups have outlined that the legalization of marijuana would lead to an increase in the rate of crime in addition to opening up of the gateway to the abuse of […]
  • Drug use and misuse in western society: Effects of chronic marijuana use among young women and girls It is also based on the fears of the impacts of the drug use, concerns over the reduced productivity that’s likely to cause harm to the user and the society and so on.
  • Medical Marijuana Policy in the United States The importance of legalization of medical marijuana is that, the government will be able to monitor and control marijuana in the country.
  • The Arguments For and Against Marijuana Decriminalization The production, preparation, trade and use of marijuana has been prohibited in most parts of the world and a lot of resources are used every year to combat it.
  • The Illegal Use of Marijuana Canada is among the leading nations in the percentage use of illegal marijuana as stated in the World Drug Report of the year 2007.
  • Marijuana and Its Economic Value in the USA The grim reality of the economic performance of the United States of America lies in the lengthy debate over the legalization of marijuana.
  • Should We Legalize Marijuana For Medical Use? In addition to that, the use of Marijuana especially by smoking either for medical reasons or to heal ailments, is a social activity that will help bring them together and improve their social ties.
  • Why Marijuana Should Be Legalized? The government should save that money it uses in prohibiting the use of marijuana as it has no proved harm to the users.
  • Arguments on Why Marijuana Should Be Illegalized The greater part of the population believes that the sustained use of this product is beneficial in numerous ways. Therefore, it is clear that the negative effects of the drug outdo the constructive ones.
  • A Case for Legalizing Marijuana Marijuana is one of the drugs that the government policy targets and as it currently stands, the government uses a lot of resources in prosecuting and punishing marijuana consumers through the legal system.
  • The Marijuana Industry and Its Benefits Marijuana use also slows down the growth of cancerous tumors in the brain, lungs, and breasts; thus, it is valuable in the management of cancer.
  • The Decriminalization of Marijuana One of the main reasons that the supporters of this argument have progressed is that by decriminalization of marijuana, the government would save huge amounts of money that it uses on enforcing laws that relate […]
  • The Use of Marijuana in California The US government ensures that its use is limited to a minimum by enforcing harsh punishments to the dealers and users of marijuana.
  • Federal Government Should Not Legalize the Use of Marijuana On the other hand the use of marijuana actually increased in the country. It is not only the DEA or the federal government that is reluctant in the legalization of marijuana.
  • Issues with Marijuana Legalization in the United States This is the reason why the debate on the legalization of marijuana has been on the increase since the past 10 years.
  • The history of marijuana According to the new set of legislation, it was considered illegal to be found in possession of 25 grams of marijuana.
  • Does Legalizing Marijuana Help or Harm the United States? The latter measure is not merely being advocated by the proponents of marijuana use since the legalization of marijuana has been supported by NAACP not because it fully backs the smoking of marijuana.
  • Marijuana, Heroin and Prescription Opiate Abuse and How Are They Related to the Society The core issues mentioned in the article revolves around addiction and abuse of opioid agents as well as its relation to the use of heroin and marijuana.
  • Increasing Marijuana Use in High School The author’s concerns in the article are that the usage of marijuana is becoming prevalent among the American youth. It is evident that the author is against the publication and marketing of the medical marijuana […]
  • The Union: The Business Behind Getting High by Brett Harvey Some other reasons advanced by the documentary include the ability of the government to control the sale of such drugs to minors and also collection of tax revenue. The documentary espouses a number of reasons […]
  • The Debates on the Legal Status of Marijuana This means that the use of marijuana encourages the consumption of other drugs such as alcohol and cigarettes. Additionally, the use of marijuana is associated with increase in crime and consumption of other illicit drugs.
  • Marijuana Is a Healthier Alternative to Cigarettes Cigarette smoking has also been reported to cause respiratory infections due to the damage caused in the cells that prevent entry of microorganisms into the respiratory system hence reducing the immunity of the system.
  • Marijuana’s Negative Effects and Advantages Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug among the youths and adults in the United States and other countries in the world.
  • Use of Marijuana and Its Consequences The plant was grown in the United States of America for agricultural purposes during the colonial period up to the beginning of the 20th century.
  • Should Marijuana Drugs Be Decriminalized? The production, preparation, trade and use of marijuana has been prohibited in most parts of the world and a lot of resources are used every year to combat it. Thus, decriminalization of marijuana is likely […]
  • Argument About Legalizing Marijuana in America Therefore, if at all the government of the United States is to prohibit the use of marijuana in the country, it should be ready to cater for the high costs that come in hand with […]
  • Marijuana’s Positive and Negative Effects The main aim of creating these institutions is to evaluate the impact and the effects of marijuana on the abusers and on the environment.
  • Limited and Controlled Use of Marijuana The question of legalizing marijuana refers to the legal use of marijuana both in private and public places for medical use or otherwise.
  • The Moral and Ethical Reasons Why Marijuana should be legal It is my humble opinion that the billions of dollars being spent on the war against marijuana should be diverted to more useful projects like feeding the less fortunate in the society.
  • The Problem of Legalization of Marijuana and Hemp Many individuals tend to believe that the use of Marijuana is morally wrong as it alters the mental state of the user and leads to dangerous addictions and actions in the end.
  • Minor and Major Arguments on Legalization of Marijuana Premises 1: If marijuana were to be legalized it would be impossible to regulate its’ sell to, and use by the minors. Making marijuana illegal is denying them a right to the use of this […]
  • The Reasons Why Marijuana Should be Made Legal Among the reasons that support the legalization of marijuana include: the medical basis that marijuana has some benefits and that the state could gain revenue from the trade of marijuana as opposed to the costs […]
  • Why Is Marijuana Legalized In Some States And Not Others? I consider the legalization of marijuana to be a positive step as its prohibition entails intrusion of personal freedom and just like any other substance it is only harmful when it is not taken in […]
  • Marijuana Legalization and Crime Rates The possible outcome of this effort will be the safe consumption of the drug, easy monitoring, and creation of awareness to the public on the dangers of excessive use of the drug and lastly the […]
  • The Effect of Legalization of marijuana in the Economy of California It has been predicted that if the government legalizes the drug, there will be a lot of changes pertaining to the demand for the drug in the market and as a result, there will be […]
  • Marijuana Must Not Be Legalized According to the national institute of drug abuse, the active chemical in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, act on the region of the brain responsible for time awareness, sensory, attention, thoughts, memory and pleasure.
  • Decriminalization of Marijuana The decriminalization of marijuana resulted due to public outcry over the effects of marijuana. Among the disadvantages include the saving of money and time for other businesses, promotion of the judicial justice as the centre […]
  • Policy Brief: Why Marijuana Use Should Be Legalized in the Us In this perspective, it is valid to argue that marijuana users may be undergoing long incarcerations in US jails due to the misconceived fantasies that took root in the public mind in the 1930’s, and […]
  • Medical Uses of Marijuana The feelings of hallucination make one to lose consciousness and feel as though in very different world that is full of bliss.
  • Should Marijuana Be Legalized in Canada?
  • Drug Testing and Legalization of Marijuana
  • Has the Time Come to Legalize Marijuana?
  • Framing the User: Social Constructions of Marijuana Users
  • Drugs and Legalization Drug Marijuana Dealing
  • Decriminalization and Marijuana Smoking Prevalence
  • Has Marijuana Become More Accepted in Today’s Culture?
  • Get Ready for Americas Fastest-Growing Industry: Marijuana
  • Clearing the Smoke Between Cigarettes and Marijuana
  • Key Findings and Decriminalization of Marijuana
  • Facts That Most People Don’t Know About Marijuana
  • Issues Hampering the Legalization of Marijuana
  • Economical Argument for the Legalization of Marijuana
  • Juvenile Smoking and Marijuana Use
  • All the Reasons Why Marijuana Should Be Legalized for Medical Purposes
  • Exploring the Effects and After Effects of Marijuana
  • Factors That Influences Teenagers to Use Marijuana
  • College Students Attitude Toward Marijuana Use on Campus
  • Drugs Case for Legalizing Marijuana
  • Logical Reasoning for the Legalization Marijuana
  • Future Trends and Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes
  • Countering Anti-Medical Marijuana Efforts in Massachusetts
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CLB | Criminal Law Brief

The Wider Impact of Drug Legalization on the Criminal Justice System

by aseneviratne | Mar 16, 2021 | All , Criminal Justice Reform , Public Health

drug legalization essay topics

This paper will discuss the effect of legalizing possession of all drugs on the criminal justice system. This paper will begin with a brief history of the modern War on Drugs to establish why drug possession should not be a criminal matter. Discussion of the impact of legalization will primarily focus on reduction in caseload and the resulting benefits.

The modern War on Drugs began during the Nixon presidency with the passage of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (“CSA”), which established federal regulatory power over the manufacture, importation, possession, use, and distribution of certain substances. [1] The CSA was ostensibly a public health response to the growing heroin epidemic in the mid-1960s. [2] In 1973, Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”) to carry out enforcement of the CSA. [3]

The War on Drugs expanded into a system of mass incarceration under the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, which increased criminal penalties associated with cannabis possession and established mandatory minimum sentences. [4] From 1980 to 1997, “the number of [individuals incarcerated] for nonviolent drug law offenses [jumped] from 50,000 . . . to over 400,000.” [5] “By 1991, the United States had surpassed the former Soviet Union and South Africa as having the largest prison population in the world.” [6] The racial impact from the ‘Tough on Crime’ approach reared its ugly head as “the sentences of black inmates were 41% longer than that of whites.” [7]

Most critically, the War on Drugs has been ineffective in deterring drug use. [8] In 2000, law enforcement seized over 4.4 million tablets of ecstasy, an increase from 350,000 tablets just two years prior. [9] From 2010 to 2015, the lifetime prevalence of 8th graders who have used illicit drugs consistently hovered around 20%. [10] Over that same period, the number of drug-induced deaths increased from 40,393 to 55,403. [11]

In light of the racial bias stemming from the War on Drugs as well as its failure to achieve its supposed intended purpose, drug possession is a worthy candidate for exploration into forms of treatment outside of the criminal realm. [12]

Legalization v. Decriminalization

For the purposes of this paper, assume that legalization means that the possession, sale, and manufacturing of all drugs would be regulated similarly to alcohol or cigarettes. At the outset, it is important to note why legalization is preferable to decriminalization. Decriminalization of drug possession simply means that possession is not a criminal offense. [13] In 2001, Portugal decriminalized all drugs, and the public health benefits have been palpable. [14] Under a system of decriminalization, however, the manufacturing and sale of drugs is still criminal. [15] As a result, the drug market is still propped up and supplied by drug cartels, just as it is in a system of prohibition. [16] Legalization goes further than decriminalization by legalizing drug production. [17] Allowing companies to manufacture drugs removes the viability of the black market drug trade, such as in Mexico where one cartel alone “had annual earnings calculated to be as high as $3 billion.” [18] In 2018, the DEA spent over $445 million on international enforcement to decrease the impact of these cartels in the United States. [19] Legalization treats the cause of the disease, and the consequent reduction in symptoms would decrease the need for these yearly international enforcement expenditures.

Court Decluttering

In 2017, there were 1,632,921 drug related violations in the U.S., of which 85.4% were for possession; an average of 3,820 possession arrests per day. [20] Under a system of legalization, American courts would no longer be inundated with this entire class of offense. The benefits of legalization on the courts are multifaceted: for the drug possessor, who is no longer a victim of the fruitless War on Drugs; for the judge, who enjoys greater flexibility with a decluttered docket; and most importantly, for the public defender, who can take advantage of the much-needed decrease in workload to provide better counsel to clients. [21]

In 2016, Louisiana had an estimated annual workload of 147,220 total cases to be divided among its 363 public defenders. [22] This meant that “the Louisiana public defense system [could only] handle 21 percent of [its] workload in compliance with [state] guidelines.” [23]

“Unsurprisingly, excessive workloads diminish the quality of legal representation.” [24] With such an enormous caseload, public defenders do not have the time available to conduct basic defense tasks necessary for a trial, creating an incentive for guilty pleas. [25] Guilty pleas based on time constraint rather than merit render “an ethical and constitutional plea bargain . . . impossible.” [26]

Given the sheer number of drug arrests, legalization would likely drastically reduce the public defense system’s case load. [27] With this caseload reduction, public defenders would be able to work towards closing the gap between the actual and necessary amount of time devoted to each client. [28] With more time to evaluate each case, public defenders can more effectively assess the appropriateness of a plea deal on the merits, rather than time constraints. [29] The increased legitimacy and efficiency of the public defense system resulting from legalization will likely lead to broader indirect benefits for all public defense clients, no matter what crime they are accused of. [30 ]

An argument against legalization posits that these reductions in public defense caseload would be offset by an increase in crime, such as petty crime and driving under the influence, due to legalization. [31] This line of reasoning rests on the assumption that if there are no criminal penalties for drug possession or use, then the number of drug users will increase. [32] With more people using drugs, more people will become addicts, who are more prone to committing crimes. [33]

The assumption that the absence of criminal sanctions entails more people using drugs is unsound, as under Portugal’s system of decriminalization, “in almost every category of drug, and for drug usage overall, the lifetime prevalence rates . . . were higher” prior to decriminalization. [34] Cocaine usage in Portugal was significantly lower than usage in the United States, which was head and shoulders above the rest of the world. [35] The heroin usage rate in Portugal from 1999 to 2005 actually decreased from 2.5% to 1.8% among those in the 16-18 age group. [36] Decreased drug use does not necessarily follow from from punitive state response, just as increased drug use does not necessarily follow from rehabilitative state response. [37] If the pool of drug users remains consistent after legalization, then pool of criminal drug users would likely remain consistent as well.

Still, even assuming that the number of drug addicts would increase post-legalization, leading to an increase in the number of petty crime and driving under the influence (“DUI”) cases, these cases differ quantitatively and qualitatively from possession and crimes currently associated with the black market for drugs.

Quantitatively, the increased caseload for petty crime and driving under the influence would still be significantly less the number of possession charges the system currently deals with. [38] Further, under the current system of prohibition, courts and society at large must deal with violent crimes associated with the black market for narcotics: in 2016, 11.2% of all federal prisoners held in state correctional facilities were incarcerated for drug trafficking and drug offenses other than possession. [39] Under a system of legalization, the profitability of the black market is greatly reduced, which would likely result in these arguably more serious crimes becoming less prevalent and further decreasing the caseload related to drugs despite a potential increase in petty crime and driving under the influence cases. [40]

Qualitatively, DUIs directly present significant and real risks of harm to other members of society in a way that drug possession does not. “In 2016, 10,497 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.” [41] Given the increased culpability and blameworthiness of these crimes, it is not a waste of the public defense system resources to criminalize DUI and bear the associated costs of doing so; rather, these are precisely the crimes which fall under the purview of the criminal justice system. [42]

In conclusion, the War on Drugs has disproportionately impacted minorities [43] and has not effectively reduced drug consumption and usage. [44] In light of this, the United States should take steps to legalize drug possession and emulate the success of other nations who have treated drug use as public health matter, instead a criminal one. [45] Further, the benefits of legalization extend beyond drug users. [46] Globally, legalization helps to curtail the influence of cartels. [47] Domestically, legalization frees up the criminal justice system, permitting more efficient and legitimate legal representation for all individuals. [48]

[1] See Controlled Substances Act of 1970, 21 U.S.C. § 811.

[2] See Pub. Broadcasting Serv., Interview Dr. Robert DuPont , FRONTLINE: DRUG WARS, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/interviews/dupont.html (last visited Mar. 20, 2020).

[3] See History , DRUG ENF’T AGENCY, dea.gov/history (last visited Jun. 29, 2020).

[4] See Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, Pub. L. No. 98-473, 98 Stat. 1976.

[5] A Brief History of the Drug War , DRUG POL’Y ALL., https://www.drugpolicy.org/issues/brief-history-drug-war, (last visited Mar. 23, 2020).

[6] Charles Ogletree, Getting Tough on Crime: Does It Work? 38 Boston B. J. 9, 27 (1994).

[8] See Ross C. Anderson, We Are All Casualties of Friendly Fire in the War on Drugs , 13 Utah B.J. 10, 11 (2000).

[9] Id. at 11.

[10] See OFFICE OF NAT’L DRUG CONTROL POL’Y, NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL STRATEGY: PERFORMANCE REPORTING SYSTEM REPORT 27 (2016); What is Prevalence? NAT’L INST. MENTAL HEALTH (Nov. 2017), https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/what-is-prevalence.shtml (explaining that “[l]ifetime prevalence is the proportion of a population who, at some point in life has ever had the characteristic.”).

[11] Id. at 12.

[12] See Anderson, supra note 8, at 11.

[13] See GLENN GREENWALD, DRUG DECRIMINALIZATION IN PORTUGAL: LESSONS FOR CREATING FAIR AND SUCCESSFUL DRUG POLICIES 2 (2009), https://www.cato.org/publications/white-paper/drug-decriminalization-portugal-lessons-creating-fair-successful-drug-policies.

[14] See id. at 14-15 (explaining that since decriminalization, Portugal has experienced a slight decline in drug use, a significant decline in drug related pathologies such as HIV, and a substantial increase in use of treatment programs).

[15] See i d. at 2.

[16] See German Lopez, What People Get Wrong About Prohibition , VOX (Oct. 19, 2015), https://www.vox.com/2015/10/19/9566935/prohibition-myths-misconceptions-facts.

[17] See GREENWALD, supra note 13, at 2.


[19] DRUG ENF’T ADMIN., FY 2019 BUDGET REQUEST, 4 (2018).

[20] See 2017 Crime in the United States: Persons Arrested , FED. BUREAU INVESTIGATION: UNIFORM CRIME REPORTING, https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2017/crime-in-the-u.s.-2017/topic-pages/persons-arrested (last visited Aug. 15, 2020).

[21] See Lisa C. Wood et al., Meet-and-Plead: The Inevitable Consequence of Crushing Defender Workloads , 42 LITIG. 20, 23 (2016).


[24] Wood et al., supra note 21, at 23.

[25] See id.

[27] See id. at 26.

[28] See id .

[29] See id .

[30] See id.

[31] See Paul Stares, Drug Legalization?: Time for a Real Debate , BROOKINGS INST. (Mar. 1, 1996), https://www.brookings.edu/articles/drug-legalization-time-for-a-real-debate/.

[32] See id.

[33] See id.

[34] GREENWALD, supra note 13, at 14-15 (emphasis added).

[35] See id. at 22-24.

[36] Id. at 14.

[37] See Stares, supra note 31 .

[38] See 2016 Crime in the United States: Table 18 , FED. BUREAU INVESTIGATION: UNIFORM CRIME REPORTING, https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/topic-pages/tables/table-18 (last visited Aug. 15 2020) (illustrating that arrests for drug abuse violations are nearly eight times as high as arrests for burglary – a petty crime that is often related to drugs).


[40] See Lopez, supra note 16 .

[41] Impaired Driving: Get the Facts, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION ( Aug. 24, 2020, 12:00 AM), https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html.

[42] See Janine Geske, Achieving the Goals of Criminal Justice: A Role for Restorative Justice , 30 Quinnipiac L. Rev. 527, 530-31 (2012).

[43] See Anderson, supra note 8, at 11 .

[44] See id.

[45] See GREENWALD, supra note 13, at 14-15.

[46] See Stares, supra note 31.

[47] See i d.

[48] See Wood et al., supra note 21, at 23, 26; s ee also Lopez, supra note 16.

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The World’s View on Drugs Is Changing. Which Side Are You On?

Should we decriminalize drugs, or legalize.

Today on “The Argument,” is it time to legalize all drugs?

Last November, an overwhelming majority of Oregonians voted to decriminalize most drugs via referendum. Medical marijuana is now legal in Alabama. And in a matter of months, cannabis products could be available to those who qualify.

Truth of the matter is, there’s not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug. And I want a lot more before I legalize it nationally.

President Biden may not be ready for legalized, recreational marijuana, but many states are way ahead of him. Connecticut just became the 18th state to legalize recreational marijuana. And it’s not just weed. Several cities have recently decriminalized magic mushrooms, and Oregon just decriminalized possession of small amounts of all drugs, including heroin, methamphetamines, and cocaine. It seems like the War on Drugs is over and drugs won big. I’m Jane Coaston, and there seems to be more and more consensus that jailing our way out of the addiction crisis in the United States is not working. But even hardcore drug policy reformers have vastly different takes on how we get to a better place with drugs, like our guests today. Ismail Ali is the Policy and Advocacy Director at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, and Jonathan P. Caulkins is the H. Guyford Stever University Professor of Operations, Research, and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. I started out by asking Ismail to define the difference between drug decriminalization and legalization.

So when people think of decriminalization, they’re usually thinking of the reduction or elimination of criminal penalties, sometimes including civil penalties. And legalization tends to be when the law actually is fully recognizing, regulating activity from point A to point Z. So you can decriminalize, for example, personal use and possession. But if every behavior up to that point is still illegal, you have an island of maybe legal or decriminalized behavior in a sea of illegal behavior. So they get through all this illegal behavior to get to the legal behavior. And I think legalization implies a full spectrum, regulated approach to the whole piece.

Ismail, you do think that ultimately the goal would be to legalize all drugs. Why?

I do think that legal, regulated access is likely the best environment for a number of drugs, but I think it’s going to depend very much on the substance itself, and factors that have to do with the supply and demand questions with respect to where and how it’s produced. Not having a legally regulated system puts us in a position where the very, very large and lucrative drug trade, which exists, whether or not there’s a regulated industry, entirely is captured by underground actors with various levels of ethics and morals. And I think that that whole conversation around legal access must also look at — and has looked at, historically — the uptake of all substances in illegal markets, and then the effects of those behaviors. My mother’s family is Colombian, and they left Colombia in the 1980s as a result in part of the massive increase in cocaine violence and cartel use. And that continued underground. Engagement has not really ceased — not just with cocaine, but with a number of other drugs. And even Colombia now is having a very serious conversation at the governmental level about what it would look like to legally regulate cocaine, because — despite pressure from the U.S. and other actors, they have realized that, actually, having some sort of legally regulated system could be the way to reduce the violence in the country. So while I do think that legalizing drugs, which sounds like such a scary thing to a lot of people, really means bringing them under more regulatory control. It’s hard, I think, to really think through what an effective addiction response strategy at the social level would be while we’re under an environment of prohibition, because prohibition does exacerbate some of those secondary effects of drugs, like, for example, addiction independence.

I’m curious as to your thoughts, Jonathan, on decriminalization versus legalization.

These have to be decided drug by drug. Drugs are different. For a long time, we’ve had caffeine be legal. That was probably fine. I don’t think that it’s — one should be cavalier about other substances. Opioids make the point. The prescription opioid crisis was a crisis that killed tens of thousands of people every year for a drug that was highly regulated, much more so than the typical recreational drug. Opioids are intrinsically dangerous, much more so than caffeine or cannabis. It has to be decided on a case by case basis.

I think that that’s something that’s also important to note here, is that, for instance, in Oregon — Oregon just passed Measure 110, which makes possession of small amounts of LSD, methamphetamines, cocaine, and heroin punishable by a civil citation. That is not legalization. That is decriminalization. So I’m interested, Jonathan, can you talk about — when we’re talking about decriminalization, it sounds to me that it is still a civil penalty in Oregon to possess these — crimes. It’s like a traffic ticket, but that’s still a crime-ish.

Yeah, with the ish. The other thing it’s important to say is that, usually, when people talk decriminalization, they’re talking about decriminalizing or changing the consequences for people possessing amounts suitable for personal use. Whereas if you just say legalize, without any qualification, the presumption is you’re legalizing supply. So there is a big difference there. And sometimes it helps to keep them straight by remembering a third term, which is legalizing use. So decriminalization is usually reducing penalties for use so that you don’t have people getting a criminal record for use. Then you can go a step farther, as Ismail was saying, and legalize use, meaning you don’t even get the equivalent of a fine or a traffic ticket. Both of those are very different than legalizing supply.

Jonathan, you made a really fascinating argument in a piece called “The Drug Policy Roulette,” and I’d like you to explain more about this, because it actually was counterintuitive for me, which is — my view was that legalizing drugs would do what the end of Prohibition did for alcohol, which is when you aren’t legally allowed to drink, you can drink all the time. But with the end of Prohibition and with a regulated alcohol market, you have places — you have counties that are dry. You have a liquor store that can only be open from this time to this time. There are prohibitions on drunk driving, and societal prohibitions against when you can — like, drinking in the morning, drinking by yourself, this is looked down on. And I think societal prohibitions play into how we think about using drugs and alcohol anyway. But in the case of drugs, you made the point in this piece that one of the issues that would be unexpected from this is that prohibition makes drugs expensive, and that drugs like heroin and cocaine would actually be pretty cheap to obtain if they were legalized, because a part of what makes them expensive is what’s called compensating wage differentials. Namely, it’s really hard to bring cocaine into the United States. You are paying for the cost of how hard it is to bring cocaine into the United States. But with that price collapse, the taxes required to make it so that you weren’t just having cheap cocaine everywhere would be incredibly high, which would then contribute to the kind of gray market smuggling that we see with cigarette smuggling in the United States and in other countries. This is a financial issue I had never thought about.

Sure. The first point is that prohibition prevents one from producing these things in straightforward ways. None of the drugs are hard to produce. If it was legal and you could allow a regular company to do it, then they become very cheap. You can see that, for instance, just in the price of cocaine in Colombia is about 1 percent or 2 percent what it is in the streets in the United States. And the illegal distribution system effectively charges $15,000 to move a kilogram from Bogota to New York City that would cost $70 on FedEx. So prohibition makes things far more expensive than it would be if they were legal. As a practical matter, there’s no way that we will have taxes high enough to prevent prices from declining substantially. And that is in part because there probably wouldn’t be the political will, but also in part because of practicalities. Drugs are very potent in the sense that it doesn’t take very much material. A daily cannabis user using one and a half grams a day consumes only a little more than a pound over a year, about the same weight as one 20 ounce can of beer. So we just can’t effectively collect very high taxes on these easy to smuggle commodities.

Yeah, and many people have talked now for some years about this concept, the Iron Law of Prohibition, which maybe it would be good to bring in here, which is essentially the idea that because smuggling is such a lucrative activity, and because smuggling smaller things, more concentrated substances is easier, it actually incentivizes higher concentrations of substances to be taken across borders. So for example, if you want to take enough heroin for 500 people, you need a trunk of a car. If you want to take enough fentanyl for 500 people, you need something about the size of your phone or maybe much, much, much smaller. So there might be the case where as smuggling gets more difficult, it’s actually incentivizing higher concentrations of drugs, because it’s easier to smuggle those drugs as opposed to ones that take up more physical space.

Well, we should unpack this, though. I mean, the movement from heroin to fentanyl is not a response to a change in the legal status of either substance. But the Iron Law of Prohibition has been completely refuted by the experience with cannabis legalization. It’s the iron law that holds no water. Cannabis did not exceed average potency of 5 percent until 2000, and now it’s — typical flower potency in a legal stores is over 20 percent. And we now have common use of vapes and dabs, which are much more potent than that. So the Iron Law of Prohibition has just been disproved by experience with cannabis legalization.

I’d probably push back on that a bit, because cannabis is also produced in state. We’re not talking as much about taking things across borders, but the big difference is that with a lot of cannabis products, they’re being produced at the place or near the place they’re being used, which is different from things that are crossing international borders.

The weight of drugs doesn’t matter much at all after they are legal, because the weight is so small. Again, I make reference this —

Yeah, no. I agree after they are legal, for sure.

So it doesn’t matter that at the moment we’re in this weird situation where we have a bunch of state specific markets. That’s a temporary artifact of the fact that there’s not yet national legalization. Once there’s national legalization, we can no longer have these state specific markets because of the Interstate Commerce Clause in the Constitution.

Jonathan, you brought up the opioid crisis. And I think that there have been a host of people who’ve written on how they used to support drug legalization. And the opioid epidemic and how it took place changed their minds. And I want to point to a great piece — my former colleague at Vox, German Lopez, wrote about this, where he said that essentially with opioids, you had companies that got a hold of a product. They marketed it irresponsibly and lobbied for lax rules in influencing government, and people died. As he points out, the United States historically is very bad at regulating drugs. Ismail, does the experience of the opioid epidemic — has that changed your viewpoint on what legalization would look like?

No, because I don’t see legalization as only a question of the regulations that have to do with the drug. I think that there are factors beyond just the way opioids are regulated and are regulated that has to do with why there’s a crisis today. And I actually personally tend to frame it as an overdose crisis. I do think opioids are a big part of that. But if you’ve been following the numbers for the last couple of years, it’s absolutely the case that overdoses with methamphetamine and other drugs are also extremely intensely increasing. And the way that, as you said, a certain framework of pharmaceutical regulation has operated with certain opioids is such a good example of what I imagine legalization to be. Like, I think if I were putting together a thinking through with people — what would be an ideal legalization scheme? And I really agree with what Jonathan said, where it’s a case by case basis. And there may be drugs that don’t need or shouldn’t have fully legally regulated systems, and maybe decriminalization is the appropriate environment for that. And maybe decriminalization of certain kinds of behaviors — and I think one really good example that feels like it’s at the center of this is this question about advertising and marketing. I think that what companies are allowed to say, what claims they’re allowed to make, how they’re allowed to advertise, what expectations are setting with consumers — those factors are pretty significant. That’s not to say that if there wasn’t the aggressive marketing campaign with some of these opioids that we’d be in the same or a different position today. It’s really difficult to tell. It’s a system that has been highly affected by interests that are not in that of the consumer, not in the interest of the public. When society was flooded with cigarette ads, a lot of people started smoking more cigarettes. That’s not — and of course, there’s a risk to smoking cigarettes. But to me, that’s an artificial pressure that comes from the market and its incentives. And I think that once you take out some of those things to the extent that that’s possible in a legal market, you might actually be able to adjust some of those outcomes.

But I think that’s the point. It’s easy to imagine an ideal legalization, but that’s not what we’re going to get. We’re going to get the legalization that comes out of our political process and institutions. And marketing is the concrete example. Once a product is legalized, the companies that produce it will enjoy First Amendment commercial free speech protections that will allow them to market.

Should they?

It doesn’t matter whether they should or should not. In the United States, under our Constitution, which protects commercial free speech, they will. In another country, with a different constitution, the government would have greater power to restrict advertising. Many of the current restrictions on cannabis advertising only are constitutional because it is still illegal under federal law.

Yeah, I spent a brief time looking at some of the ads that were made for OxyContin. And there’s one that says that, when you know acetaminophen won’t be enough, OxyContin 12 Hour — which is, like, acetaminophen is Tylenol. And going from Tylenol to OxyContin is a real — it’s a real leap. But I think that gets to something I’m curious about — because the United States has been a leader in determining the control of drug trade and practice, Jonathan, how do you think hypothetically that a legalization or decriminalization would impact international markets? Do you think that there would be a collapse in the price, internationally, of cocaine or heroin? What would that even look like?

Yeah, it’s a great question. And sort of the short answer is that in any place that legalizes and allows for profit industry, you’re going to see a price collapse. And because these things are so easy to smuggle, that would put downward pressure on other countries that are connected commercially to the country that legalized. And in an interconnected world, that’s a lot of places. You’re seeing some of this already, even without legalization, from the switch to synthetics which can be produced anywhere and are easier to produce surreptitiously than with crop based products. And legalization would be a little bit like the innovation of fentanyl coming into the market. It would greatly reduce the cost of production. And over time, that puts downward pressure on prices.

Ismail, I know that your organization has been thinking a lot about this with regard to psychedelics, so whether that’s LSD, whether that’s the use with MDMA in Oregon and other places, psychedelics and the use of psychedelics is getting increasing state support. The California State Senate in June of this year passed a bill that would legalize the social sharing and possession and use of psychedelics. It’s something that’s coming around. What does that look like, and how has your organization participated in that conversation?

Yeah, a couple of things. So I work for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which was founded in 1986 after MDMA was criminalized in an emergency scheduling decision by the D.E.A. MDMA — best known as the active ingredient in ecstasy. It’s now— through MAPS and the Public Benefit Corporation, which we work with — in that entity is taking MDMA through the F.D.A. process, with the intention of having it recognized as a prescription medicine. But while we’re focusing primarily on MDMA, it’s absolutely the case that one of the large goals and kind of value systems that MAPS has utilized over the last 35 years is toward legal, regulated access for psychedelic substances, and specifically, in a legal, medical, or cultural context. And while my personal perspective on this does have to do with really shifting drug laws for all of the substances involved, it is absolutely true that psychedelics are experiencing a kind of like zeitgeist, or some sort of like resurgence in society, now that we have a couple of decades of solid clinical and observational data, you know, depending on the substance, depending on the environment, that show that they may have benefits for certain people in certain mental health contexts. That’s happening simultaneously to this renewed awareness of the spiritual use of some of these substances in certain contexts, which regulatory and structurally speaking, looks very different from like a medicalized, or like, a medical adjacent system. So you mentioned Measure 110 in Oregon. At the same time, Oregon also passed Measure 109, which is a legal psilocybin services system, and psilocybin being the active ingredient in what people call magic mushrooms. And that’s relevant, because it’s actually the first legalized, or attempt at a legalized regulated system for access to one of these substances aside from cannabis. And I’ll just say — to kind of close this thought — that psychedelics are an interesting bridge, because while I think some people want them to be the silver bullet for mental health. And they have all these benefits, and it’s certainly true that for certain people and in certain contexts, they do have tremendous benefit. But they do come with risks. And the thing about psychedelics is that they’re actually more known for their psychological risks as opposed to their physical risks.

And that’s a really interesting thing, because it brings up how we actually navigate and handle mental health in the United States.

I want to push back very lightly on that, because I think that when — in D.C., the language around the decriminalization of mushrooms, which I supported, it very much implied that not only should mushrooms be decriminalized, but that you should do them.

I think that this gets into the question of — we don’t necessarily exist in the ideal regulatory and cultural marketplace for legalized psychedelics or legalized drugs in general. And I’m curious as to how you’re thinking about how, yes, it would be fantastic if these drugs would be used in these safe contexts, in these — whether secular or religious ceremonies, or with the right groups of people. But they won’t be. And I’m curious how you’re thinking about this.

Well, this brings me to the question of education, which we haven’t touched on too much in this conversation yet. I think that the current legal status of psychedelics has — and all drugs - has significantly warped the education that people receive about them. I was part of the DARE generation, and when I learned that —

Oh, I was too.

I was too. Some would say it did not prove effective.

Totally. Do you remember the doobies with the big googly eyes, like, they’re going to come get you. Like, when I learned that methamphetamine and marijuana were not the same, that were they were not equally dangerous, which is what I was taught in sixth grade, I experienced a big rupture where I actually — it was probably the beginning for me of beginning to really doubt what education I was receiving, not just about drugs, but about other things in general. And I would say now, especially looking back at what feels like propaganda for the drug war, it makes it really difficult to trust what kind of education and information people are getting. So to answer your question, you’re right. There’s absolutely no way to control the way people use drugs. Like, there’s no guarantee that even with the best regulatory system and the best policy in every way, people will use them the way that we want every time. However, I do think that stigma and misinformation and drug hysteria contributes to people using drugs in less educated ways. And that’s not to say that more information would fix the overdose crisis. It would not fix a lot of these issues with addiction. But I do think that with psychedelics specifically and especially, better education about the environment would make quite a big difference. One of the most persuasive things I can say when I’m doing advocacy work around psychedelics is that psychedelic therapy is not that fun. I mean, it is true that people can have super ecstatic and joyous experiences with psychedelics, but psychedelic therapy as a treatment modality is actually quite challenging. And dealing with one’s own internalized trauma is not a particularly fun process. It’s not something you want to do at a festival surrounded by your friends. You want to do it in a safe place, maybe with a blanket and some chill music going on, in a room where you can do that with people who you can trust. So it’s — a lot of that has to do with the environment that people are in. And because all psychedelics are equally illegal and you can’t do them anywhere, then that means you can do them anywhere, you know.

Yeah, when you’re surrounded by 90,000 people, it’s maybe not the best time to maybe encounter God.

On the psychedelics, the people who are optimistic about legalization are often very optimistic about the potential of education. My caution is when you allow a for profit industry, a lot of the education, quote unquote, is going to be provided by the industry. You referred earlier to — I may get the details wrong, but I think it might have been a Purdue advertisement that said when Tylenol is not enough, take Oxy. I mean, I don’t have the details right, but that is them trying to educate you about the right — in their mind — set and setting for drug use, not for your benefit, but for their profits’ benefit. Legalizing supply is night and day different than just decriminalizing. The power of the market that is unleashed when you create corporations that make money by inducing greater use of their product, coupled with — intrinsically, some of these products are appealing or addictive — that’s a potent combination we need to be very careful about.

Hi, Jane. My name is Blake and I live in Boston. One thought that’s been occupying my mind, and something I talked to my dad and family about, is on cryptocurrency — in particular, Bitcoin. And I guess one thing that I’ve been struggling with is trying to determine whether I believe it’s something that’s going to stick around or if it’s just a fad. It’s been really hard for me to find sources that are objective and look at both sides of the coin, no pun intended there. Thanks so much. Take care.

Hi Blake. Well, I have a lot of thoughts on cryptocurrency, but I think the question isn’t it a fad, or is it something that’s going to stick around forever, because the answer to both of those can be yes. I don’t think cryptocurrency is going to save the world. I also think that it’s going to be around for a long time. And it’s something that I’d like to learn more about. But I have a feeling that both sides tend to overstate either the importance or the lack of importance of cryptocurrency. That seems to be how this kind of thing goes.

What are you arguing about with your family, your friends, your frenemies? Tell me about the big debate you’re having in a voicemail by calling 347-915-4324, and we might play an excerpt of it on a future episode. Jonathan, can you talk a little bit about overdoses and the potential health impacts?

Opioids are particularly dangerous in terms of overdose risk, but what makes them less problematic because we do have pharmacological therapies for them, methadone being the original and most famous — perhaps buprenorphine. We do not have anything like that in terms of pharmacotherapies for the common stimulants. And it makes a difference, because if you’re going to legalize — particularly legalize supply, allow for profit companies to promote the use, you’re going to get more use. You’ll get more dependence. And it’s a very different thing. If you are choosing policies that promote dependence to something for which there is no real effective treatment, as opposed to opioids — it’s not that opioids are gentle, but we do at least have a treatment.

Ismail, how do we think about recovery, and how do we think about the aftershocks of legalization? I’m just curious how you think about addiction in this conversation.

Yeah, I have what might be a slightly unpopular opinion, especially in today’s time. Like, addiction itself — let’s say, like, drug dependency, to be a little more specific — itself, I don’t necessarily see as a social harm or a social bad. I think that a lot of people manage a lot of addictions totally fine, regularly, because it’s not disruptive to them, because they have access to a safe supply of what it is that they’re addicted to. Of course, the effects of a caffeine addiction or caffeine dependency are significantly less dramatic and less likely to cause some sort of antisocial behavior than a withdrawal from a different substance. But I think that what both Jonathan and you have mentioned, Jane, that I think is more relevant, has to do with the consequences and the secondary effects — of course, on the individual, but especially on society. Alcohol is a great example, because we do have what people would consider a safe supply of alcohol. It’s a regulated product with tons and tons of social externalities that are still there. The difference is that the purchase, the manufacture, the use of alcohol — if criminalized, I believe, would make our current alcohol related issues worse. But I do think that the big difference with other substances is that because they’re criminalized, you have all of those effects, those secondary antisocial effects of dependence or antisocial use, et cetera. And you have the additional layer of criminalization for the use itself. I’m curious about — especially Jonathan’s perspective on this, because there are examples where certain countries like Switzerland are using heroin to manage heroin addiction. Right, they’re actually allowing people to have a safe, consistent supply of heroin. In places like Portugal and Spain, you have a huge percentage of people who were on heroin in the ‘80s and ‘90s who’ve transitioned onto methadone, and are still on methadone decades later. But they’re able to have jobs. They’re able to have families. They’re able to do x, y, z — so.

I think this gets right to the heart of where you and I differ, if I may. I mean, on the last — we had legal supply of prescription opioids and still had a lot of overdoses. There’s no question that an inconsistent supply exacerbates the problem. But I don’t think legal supply of opioids would eliminate overdoses. But to be more fundamental about it, you and I differ on whether or not legal supply necessarily can stabilize a person who is dependent on the substance. To me, that’s substance specific. Caffeine and nicotine are two drugs for which if you have legal supply that is not adulterated and so on, the person can function in everyday life just fine, even if they are dependent. But for the stimulants — crack, methamphetamine, and for alcohol, just providing abundant amounts of unadulterated, free supply does not let those people stabilize their lives. And that has terrible repercussions for them and their families.

Yeah and I would just — to clarify, I don’t necessarily think that an uninterrupted, as much as you want, supply of any drug is going to be good for everyone. Like, I —

Well, that’s what for profit companies are going to want to supply if we legalize.

But there is nuance there. But my question — actually, back to you is — I wonder about your thoughts about why there hasn’t been the same — because while there is a tremendous amount of methamphetamine use, it’s not the case as far as I understand that the increase in methamphetamine use is a result of increased, for example, prescribing of dexamphetamine or other amphetamine analogs that are legal for various treatments, whereas you do see a little bit more of that shift from prescription opioids to underground use of opiates with that market. So I hear what you’re saying. And it seems to be the case that a regulated, safe supply of something like Adderall actually doesn’t have the same effect as in bringing people into a super unregulated, dangerous, unadulterated market in the same way you see with opioids. And it’s true that we also don’t have the pharmaceutical interventions for stimulants as we do with opioids, but I wonder what makes that different. Why are people going to meth in that way versus the other?

Yes, stimulants is a broad category. And some of them are tougher than others. I mean, at some level caffeine is a stimulant, but it’s not a very powerful one, to speak informally, whereas methamphetamine definitely is. Adderall is more on the caffeine end of the spectrum, blessedly, although there is actually some diversion of Adderall. But it’s a different feel. This is like somebody with access to Adderall selling it or giving it to their friend in college to help them study, because they think it’s going to be a performance enhancing smart drug. But on the whole —

I’ve never I’ve never heard of that happening, ever — definitely don’t know anything about that.

Adderall’s worth talking about for a minute here, because it does illustrate the phenomenon that — the trick with providing generous supply to some people is, in part, can they make money by diverting it to other people — money, or do favors for friends. The prescription opioids got out of control for a whole bunch of reasons, many reasons. But one of them was the fact that there was already this value in the illegal market. And you also could seek a prescription based on symptoms that could not be objectively assessed by the clinician. And that combination was a problem. You could show up and say, oh, my back hurts a lot. Give me these things for the cost of a co-pay, and I can turn around and sell them for a lot of money. We’re going to always be vulnerable if you, through the medical system, provide subsidized access to anything for which there is demand in the illegal market. And Adderall does have that character. It just fortunately is nowhere near as bad for you, or risk of overdose, as the opioids were.

Yeah, or meth. I hear that. That makes a lot of sense, and I appreciate that answer. And also I think that the other factor, especially with regulated stimulants — and this is, I think also one of the questions with respect to regulations in general, which is method of administration. Because I do think that the fact that you don’t have smokable amphetamines or injectable amphetamines through regulated system also means that people who are accessing it through a regulated market tend to be doing it in a way that’s not going to have the same super rapid onset, and then related withdrawal, et cetera that you might have with methamphetamine use or other related things.

Yeah, I’ll agree with that. And then it’s also location of administration. So cocaine is available as a medicine. It turns out to be a vasoconstrictor and topical anesthetic that’s useful in minor surgeries. We have no problem with diversion of medical cocaine to illegal markets, because it’s only used inside the medical facility, administered by the clinician. So if we were to talk about, like, psychedelics used by a psychiatrist, on site, under supervision, that sort of medical use would have next to no risk of diversion to a market. But if we were ever to say to somebody, here are two pills a day for the next month. Take them home, do what you want with them. Then, there’s much greater risk of some of those being diverted into the market.

Yeah, and just to clarify — the way that psychedelics are being incorporated into health care now, it’s more like a procedure or a surgery than it is like other psychiatric interventions, where it actually is in the presence of a therapist or a psychiatrist or someone who has specific training to work with both these altered states of consciousness as well with the substances themselves.

Jonathan, I’m curious. Are we asking some of the wrong questions about consumption and distribution if we’re thinking about something as big as what decriminalization or legalization of substances beyond marijuana would look like?

Well, first of all, the bigness of decriminalize and legalize are very, very different. Decriminalization would be a big change, but it’s not a change the world. Legalization of supply, that’s totally different. You said that’s a big shake up. It’s a once in a century event. I would just stress — it’s a once and for all time event. Once you create a legal industry, it’s going to be really hard to get rid of it. When you create a legal industry, you create a powerful lobbying force. One of the challenges we have is regulatory capture. It’s already starting with cannabis. We haven’t even gotten to national legalization yet. But you just presume- - if you’re going to legalize supply of something, presume that there will be regulatory capture, presume you will never go back. And presume that a lot of the regulations are actually going to be shaped by what’s in the industry interests much more so than public health. Public health doesn’t tend to win in the lobbying battles against industry.

I totally agree that legalizing drugs, legalizing supply would be a generational event. It would be a massive, massive shift in the way things are done — even though, as I like to remind people, drugs were legal and traded until about 100 years ago. And it was US pressure on international actors that really brought us into the realm of prohibition that we have now — among others, because even large colonial powers, the Dutch and the English and others, were very happily trading a lot of these drugs for a long time before prohibition in its current form existed. So I also think that we are in a new paradigm in the sense that people have much more awareness and a willingness to talk through the stigma around the dependency and addiction and so on. And that does give me hope, that as we look at these questions around advertising and marketing and so on, that maybe it is possible that these public health perspectives could be better considered. I hope that our experience with tobacco and with opioids could lead to a more rational drug policy with respect to legal access of other substances. That could be naively optimistic, but I feel like as a policy reform advocate, if I’m not somewhat optimistic, then there’s really no point to going forward. And I think it’s really good to have some level of possibility for what there could be beyond where — we currently are.

I admire that optimism. I’m usually the one who’s accused of being optimistic. Compared to you, I guess I’m the jaded, cynical one. We’ll see.

Jonathan, Ismail, thank you so much for joining me. And I really appreciated this conversation.

Good. It was a joy to be here.

Thanks so much, Jonathan. Thank you so much, Jane.

Ismail Ali is a Policy and Advocacy Director at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. Jonathan P. Caulkins is the H. Guyford Stever University Professor of Operations, Research, and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. If you want to learn more about drug policy of the United States, I recommend “Is There A Case For Legalizing Heroin” by Benjamin Wallace-Wells in The New Yorker, published in April of 2021. For the other side, you can read “The Drug Policy Roulette” by Jonathan P. Caulkins and Michael A.C. Lee in the National Affairs Summer 2012 edition. And listen to “Michael Pollan’s ‘Trip Report,’” an episode on The New York Times opinion podcast “Sway.” You can find links to all of these in our episode notes.

“The Argument” is a production of New York Times opinion. It’s produced by Phoebe Lett, Elisa Gutierrez, and Vishakha Darbha, edited by Alison Bruzek and Sarah Geis, with original music and sound design by Isaac Jones. Additional engineering by Carole Sabouraud, and additional mixing by Sonia Herrero. Fact checking by Kate Sinclair, and audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks this week to Kristin Lin.

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Medical marijuana is now legal in more than half of the country . The cities of Denver, Seattle , Washington and Oakland, Calif., have also decriminalized psilocybin (the psychedelic element in “magic mushrooms”). Oregon went one step further, decriminalizing all drugs in small quantities, including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Attitudes toward drugs have changed considerably over the years. But the question of whether all drugs should be legalized continues to be contentious. How much have attitudes toward illegal drugs changed? And why?

[You can listen to this episode of “The Argument” on Apple , Spotify or Google or wherever you get your podcasts .]

This week, Jane Coaston talks to Ismail Ali, the policy and advocacy director for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, and Jonathan P. Caulkins, a professor of operations research and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College, about the pros and cons of legalizing all drugs.

Mentioned in this episode:

“ Is there a Case for Legalizing Heroin? ” by Benjamin Wallace-Wells in The New Yorker

“ The Drug-Policy Roulette ” by Jonathan P. Caulkins and Michael A.C. Lee in the National Affairs Summer 2012 edition

“ Michael Pollan’s ‘Trip Report,’ ” on The New York Times Opinion podcast “Sway”

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

drug legalization essay topics

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“The Argument” is produced by Phoebe Lett, Elisa Gutierrez and Vishakha Darbha and edited by Alison Bruzek and Sarah Geis; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; mixing by Sonia Herrero, and audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

2018 Theses Doctoral

Essays on Cannabis Legalization

Thomas, Danna Kang

Though the drug remains illegal at the federal level, in recent years states and localities have increasingly liberalized their marijuana laws in order to generate tax revenue and save resources on marijuana law enforcement. Many states have adopted some form of medical marijuana and/or marijuana decriminalization laws, and as of 2017, Washington, Colorado, Maine, California, Oregon, Massachusetts, Nevada, Alaska, and the District of Columbia have all legalized marijuana for recreational use. In 2016 recreational marijuana generated over $1.8 billion in sales. Hence, studying marijuana reforms and the policies and outcomes of early recreational marijuana adopters is an important area of research. However, perhaps due to the fact that legalized recreational cannabis is a recent phenomenon, a scarcity of research exists on the impacts of recreational cannabis legalization and the efficacy and efficiency of cannabis regulation. This dissertation aims to fill this gap, using the Washington recreational marijuana market as the primary setting to study cannabis legalization in the United States. Of first order importance in the regulation of sin goods such as cannabis is quantifying the value of the marginal damages of negative externalities. Hence, Chapter 1 (co-authored with Lin Tian) explores the impact of marijuana dispensary location on neighborhood property values, exploiting plausibly exogenous variation in marijuana retailer location. Policymakers and advocates have long expressed concerns that the positive effects of the legalization--e.g., increases in tax revenue--are well spread spatially, but the negative effects are highly localized through channels such as crime. Hence, we use changes in property values to measure individuals' willingness to pay to avoid localized externalities caused by the arrival of marijuana dispensaries. Our key identification strategy is to compare changes in housing sales around winners and losers in a lottery for recreational marijuana retail licenses. (Due to location restrictions, license applicants were required to provide an address of where they would like to locate.) Hence, we have the locations of both actual entrants and potential entrants, which provides a natural difference-in-differences set-up. Using data from King County, Washington, we find an almost 2.4% decrease in the value of properties within a 0.5 mile radius of an entrant, a $9,400 decline in median property values. The aforementioned retail license lottery was used to distribute licenses due to a license quota. Retail license quotas are often used by states to regulate entry into sin goods markets as quotas can restrict consumption by decreasing access and by reducing competition (and, therefore, increasing markups). However, license quotas also create allocative inefficiency. For example, license quotas are often based on the population of a city or county. Hence, licenses are not necessarily allocated to the areas where they offer the highest marginal benefit. Moreover, as seen in the case of the Washington recreational marijuana market, licenses are often distributed via lottery, meaning that in the absence of an efficiency secondary market for licenses, the license recipients are not necessarily the most efficient potential entrants. This allocative inefficiency is generated by heterogeneity in firms and consumers. Therefore, in Chapter 2, I develop a model of demand and firm pricing in order to investigate firm-level heterogeneity and inefficiency. Demand is differentiated by geography and incorporates consumer demographics. I estimate this demand model using data on firm sales from Washington. Utilizing the estimates and firm pricing model, I back out a non-parametric distribution of firm variable costs. These variable costs differ by product and firm and provide a measure of firm inefficiency. I find that variable costs have lower inventory turnover; hence, randomly choosing entrants in a lottery could be a large contributor to allocative inefficiency. Chapter 3 explores the sources of allocative inefficiency in license distribution in the Washington recreational marijuana market. A difficulty in studying the welfare effects of license quotas is finding credible counterfactuals of unrestricted entry. Therefore, I take a structural approach: I first develop a three stage model that endogenizes firm entry and incorporates the spatial demand and pricing model discussed in Chapter 2. Using the estimates of the demand and pricing model, I estimate firms' fixed costs and use data on locations of those potential entrants that did not win Washington's retail license lottery to simulate counterfactual entry patterns. I find that allowing firms to enter freely at Washington's current marijuana tax rate increases total surplus by 21.5% relative to a baseline simulation of Washington's license quota regime. Geographic misallocation and random allocation of licenses account for 6.6\% and 65.9\% of this difference, respectively. Moreover, as the primary objective of these quotas is to mitigate the negative externalities of marijuana consumption, I study alternative state tax policies that directly control for the marginal damages of marijuana consumption. Free entry with tax rates that keep the quantity of marijuana or THC consumed equal to baseline consumption increases welfare by 6.9% and 11.7%, respectively. I also explore the possibility of heterogeneous marginal damages of consumption across geography, backing out the non-uniform sales tax across geography that is consistent with Washington's license quota policy. Free entry with a non-uniform sales tax increases efficiency by over 7% relative to the baseline simulation of license quotas due to improvements in license allocation.

  • Cannabis--Law and legislation
  • Marijuana industry
  • Drug legalization
  • Drugs--Economic aspects

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112 Marijuana Legalization Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

Inside This Article

Marijuana legalization has been a hot topic of debate in recent years, with many states and countries opting to legalize the drug for both medicinal and recreational use. Whether you are in favor of or against marijuana legalization, there is no denying that it is a complex issue with many different facets to consider.

If you are tasked with writing an essay on marijuana legalization, you may be wondering where to start. To help you out, we have compiled a list of 112 marijuana legalization essay topic ideas and examples that you can use as inspiration for your own writing.

  • The history of marijuana prohibition in the United States
  • The economic impact of marijuana legalization
  • The social impact of marijuana legalization
  • The medical benefits of marijuana
  • The negative health effects of marijuana use
  • The racial disparities in marijuana arrests
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on crime rates
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on drug trafficking
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on youth drug use
  • The role of marijuana in treating chronic pain
  • The role of marijuana in treating anxiety and depression
  • The role of marijuana in treating PTSD
  • The role of marijuana in treating epilepsy
  • The role of marijuana in treating cancer
  • The role of marijuana in treating glaucoma
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on opioid addiction
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on alcohol consumption
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on tobacco use
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on workplace productivity
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on traffic accidents
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on school performance
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on mental health
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on public health
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on public safety
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on tax revenue
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on tourism
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on property values
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on small businesses
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on big corporations
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on the black market
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on the environment
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on social justice
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on civil liberties
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on individual freedom
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on government regulation
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on public opinion
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on international relations
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on public policy
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on criminal justice reform
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on healthcare reform
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on education reform
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on immigration reform
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on prison reform
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on social welfare reform
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on economic inequality
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on poverty
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on homelessness
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on mental illness
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on addiction
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on public education
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on public health education
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on drug education
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on sex education
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on LGBTQ rights
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on women's rights
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on minority rights
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on disability rights
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on indigenous rights
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on immigrant rights
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on worker rights
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on animal rights
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on environmental rights
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on reproductive rights
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on civil rights
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on human rights
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on global justice
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on social justice movements
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political movements
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on cultural movements
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on artistic movements
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on scientific movements
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on technological movements
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on economic movements
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on environmental movements
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on social movements
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political parties
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political ideologies
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political campaigns
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political candidates
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political leaders
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political systems
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political institutions
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political processes
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political power
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political authority
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political legitimacy
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political accountability
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political transparency
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political participation
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political representation
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political decision-making
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political discourse
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political debate
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political dialogue
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political communication
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political negotiation
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political compromise
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political cooperation
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political collaboration
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political conflict
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political resolution
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political stability
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political change
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political reform
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political transformation
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political revolution
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political evolution
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political progress
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political development
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political growth
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political innovation
  • The impact of marijuana legalization on political leadership

With so many different angles to explore, writing an essay on marijuana legalization can be a fascinating and informative experience. Whether you choose to focus on the economic, social, medical, or political aspects of the issue, there is no shortage of topics to discuss.

So, whether you are writing a research paper, a persuasive essay, or a personal reflection on marijuana legalization, we hope that these 112 topic ideas and examples will help you get started and inspire you to delve deeper into this complex and controversial topic.

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Drug Legalization?: Time for a real debate

Subscribe to governance weekly, paul stares ps paul stares.

March 1, 1996

  • 11 min read

Whether Bill Clinton “inhaled” when trying marijuana as a college student was about the closest the last presidential campaign came to addressing the drug issue. The present one, however, could be very different. For the fourth straight year, a federally supported nationwide survey of American secondary school students by the University of Michigan has indicated increased drug use. After a decade or more in which drug use had been falling, the Republicans will assuredly blame the bad news on President Clinton and assail him for failing to carry on the Bush and Reagan administrations’ high-profile stand against drugs. How big this issue becomes is less certain, but if the worrisome trend in drug use among teens continues, public debate about how best to respond to the drug problem will clearly not end with the election. Indeed, concern is already mounting that the large wave of teenagers—the group most at risk of taking drugs—that will crest around the turn of the century will be accompanied by a new surge in drug use.

As in the past, some observers will doubtless see the solution in much tougher penalties to deter both suppliers and consumers of illicit psychoactive substances. Others will argue that the answer lies not in more law enforcement and stiffer sanctions, but in less. Specifically, they will maintain that the edifice of domestic laws and international conventions that collectively prohibit the production, sale, and consumption of a large array of drugs for anything other than medical or scientific purposes has proven physically harmful, socially divisive, prohibitively expensive, and ultimately counterproductive in generating the very incentives that perpetuate a violent black market for illicit drugs. They will conclude, moreover, that the only logical step for the United States to take is to “legalize” drugs—in essence repeal and disband the current drug laws and enforcement mechanisms in much the same way America abandoned its brief experiment with alcohol prohibition in the 1920s.

Although the legalization alternative typically surfaces when the public’s anxiety about drugs and despair over existing policies are at their highest, it never seems to slip off the media radar screen for long. Periodic incidents—such as the heroin-induced death of a young, affluent New York City couple in 1995 or the 1993 remark by then Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders that legalization might be beneficial and should be studied—ensure this. The prominence of many of those who have at various times made the case for legalization—such as William F. Buckley, Jr., Milton Friedman, and George Shultz—also helps. But each time the issue of legalization arises, the same arguments for and against are dusted off and trotted out, leaving us with no clearer understanding of what it might entail and what the effect might be.

As will become clear, drug legalization is not a public policy option that lends itself to simplistic or superficial debate. It requires dissection and scrutiny of an order that has been remarkably absent despite the attention it perennially receives. Beyond discussion of some very generally defined proposals, there has been no detailed assessment of the operational meaning of legalization. There is not even a commonly accepted lexicon of terms to allow an intellectually rigorous exchange to take place. Legalization, as a consequence, has come to mean different things to different people. Some, for example, use legalization interchangeably with “decriminalization,” which usually refers to removing criminal sanctions for possessing small quantities of drugs for personal use. Others equate legalization, at least implicitly, with complete deregulation, failing in the process to acknowledge the extent to which currently legally available drugs are subject to stringent controls.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government—including the Clinton administration—has done little to improve the debate. Although it has consistently rejected any retreat from prohibition, its stance has evidently not been based on in- depth investigation of the potential costs and benefits. The belief that legalization would lead to an instant and dramatic increase in drug use is considered to be so self-evident as to warrant no further study. But if this is indeed the likely conclusion of any study, what is there to fear aside from criticism that relatively small amounts of taxpayer money had been wasted in demonstrating what everyone had believed at the outset? Wouldn’t such an outcome in any case help justify the continuation of existing policies and convincingly silence those—admittedly never more than a small minority—calling for legalization?

A real debate that acknowledges the unavoidable complexities and uncertainties surrounding the notion of drug legalization is long overdue. Not only would it dissuade people from making the kinds of casual if not flippant assertions—both for and against—that have permeated previous debates about legalization, but it could also stimulate a larger and equally critical assessment of current U.S. drug control programs and priorities.

First Ask the Right Questions

Many arguments appear to make legalization a compelling alternative to today’s prohibitionist policies. Besides undermining the black-market incentives to produce and sell drugs, legalization could remove or at least significantly reduce the very problems that cause the greatest public concern: the crime, corruption, and violence that attend the operation of illicit drug markets. It would presumably also diminish the damage caused by the absence of quality controls on illicit drugs and slow the spread of infectious diseases due to needle sharing and other unhygienic practices. Furthermore, governments could abandon the costly and largely futile effort to suppress the supply of illicit drugs and jail drug offenders, spending the money thus saved to educate people not to take drugs and treat those who become addicted.

However, what is typically portrayed as a fairly straightforward process of lifting prohibitionist controls to reap these putative benefits would in reality entail addressing an extremely complex set of regulatory issues. As with most if not all privately and publicly provided goods, the key regulatory questions concern the nature of the legally available drugs, the terms of their supply, and the terms of their consumption (see page 21).

What becomes immediately apparent from even a casual review of these questions—and the list presented here is by no means exhaustive—is that there is an enormous range of regulatory permutations for each drug. Until all the principal alternatives are clearly laid out in reasonable detail, however, the potential costs and benefits of each cannot begin to be responsibly assessed. This fundamental point can be illustrated with respect to the two central questions most likely to sway public opinion. What would happen to drug consumption under more permissive regulatory regimes? And what would happen to crime?

Relaxing the availability of psychoactive substances not already commercially available, opponents typically argue, would lead to an immediate and substantial rise in consumption. To support their claim, they point to the prevalence of opium, heroin, and cocaine addiction in various countries before international controls took effect, the rise in alcohol consumption after the Volstead Act was repealed in the United States, and studies showing higher rates of abuse among medical professionals with greater access to prescription drugs. Without explaining the basis of their calculations, some have predicted dramatic increases in the number of people taking drugs and becoming addicted. These increases would translate into considerable direct and indirect costs to society, including higher public health spending as a result of drug overdoses, fetal deformities, and other drug-related misadventures such as auto accidents; loss of productivity due to worker absenteeism and on-the-job accidents; and more drug-induced violence, child abuse, and other crimes, to say nothing about educational impairment.

Advocates of legalization concede that consumption would probably rise, but counter that it is not axiomatic that the increase would be very large or last very long, especially if legalization were paired with appropriate public education programs. They too cite historical evidence to bolster their claims, noting that consumption of opium, heroin, and cocaine had already begun falling before prohibition took effect, that alcohol consumption did not rise suddenly after prohibition was lifted, and that decriminalization of cannabis use in 11 U.S. states in the 1970s did not precipitate a dramatic rise in its consumption. Some also point to the legal sale of cannabis products through regulated outlets in the Netherlands, which also does not seem to have significantly boosted use by Dutch nationals. Public opinion polls showing that most Americans would not rush off to try hitherto forbidden drugs that suddenly became available are likewise used to buttress the pro-legalization case.

Neither side’s arguments are particularly reassuring. The historical evidence is ambiguous at best, even assuming that the experience of one era is relevant to another. Extrapolating the results of policy steps in one country to another with different sociocultural values runs into the same problem. Similarly, within the United States the effect of decriminalization at the state level must be viewed within the general context of continued federal prohibition. And opinion polls are known to be unreliable.

More to the point, until the nature of the putative regulatory regime is specified, such discussions are futile. It would be surprising, for example, if consumption of the legalized drugs did not increase if they were to become commercially available the way that alcohol and tobacco products are today, complete with sophisticated packaging, marketing, and advertising. But more restrictive regimes might see quite different outcomes. In any case, the risk of higher drug consumption might be acceptable if legalization could reduce dramatically if not remove entirely the crime associated with the black market for illicit drugs while also making some forms of drug use safer. Here again, there are disputed claims.

Opponents of more permissive regimes doubt that black market activity and its associated problems would disappear or even fall very much. But, as before, addressing this question requires knowing the specifics of the regulatory regime, especially the terms of supply. If drugs are sold openly on a commercial basis and prices are close to production and distribution costs, opportunities for illicit undercutting would appear to be rather small. Under a more restrictive regime, such as government-controlled outlets or medical prescription schemes, illicit sources of supply would be more likely to remain or evolve to satisfy the legally unfulfilled demand. In short, the desire to control access to stem consumption has to be balanced against the black market opportunities that would arise. Schemes that risk a continuing black market require more questions—about the new black markets operation over time, whether it is likely to be more benign than existing ones, and more broadly whether the trade-off with other benefits still makes the effort worthwhile.

The most obvious case is regulating access to drugs by adolescents and young adults. Under any regime, it is hard to imagine that drugs that are now prohibited would become more readily available than alcohol and tobacco are today. Would a black market in drugs for teenagers emerge, or would the regulatory regime be as leaky as the present one for alcohol and tobacco? A “yes” answer to either question would lessen the attractiveness of legalization.

What about the International Repercussions?

Not surprisingly, the wider international ramifications of drug legalization have also gone largely unremarked. Here too a long set of questions remains to be addressed. Given the longstanding U.S. role as the principal sponsor of international drug control measures, how would a decision to move toward legalizing drugs affect other countries? What would become of the extensive regime of multilateral conventions and bilateral agreements? Would every nation have to conform to a new set of rules? If not, what would happen? Would more permissive countries be suddenly swamped by drugs and drug consumers, or would traffickers focus on the countries where tighter restrictions kept profits higher? This is not an abstract question. The Netherlands’ liberal drug policy has attracted an influx of “drug tourists” from neighboring countries, as did the city of Zurich’s following the now abandoned experiment allowing an open drug market to operate in what became known as “Needle Park.” And while it is conceivable that affluent countries could soften the worst consequences of drug legalization through extensive public prevention and drug treatment programs, what about poorer countries?

Finally, what would happen to the principal suppliers of illicit drugs if restrictions on the commercial sale of these drugs were lifted in some or all of the main markets? Would the trafficking organizations adapt and become legal businesses or turn to other illicit enterprises? What would happen to the source countries? Would they benefit or would new producers and manufacturers suddenly spring up elsewhere? Such questions have not even been posed in a systematic way, let alone seriously studied.

Irreducible Uncertainties

Although greater precision in defining more permissive regulatory regimes is critical to evaluating their potential costs and benefits, it will not resolve the uncertainties that exist. Only implementation will do that. Because small-scale experimentation (assuming a particular locality’s consent to be a guinea pig) would inevitably invite complaints that the results were biased or inconclusive, implementation would presumably have to be widespread, even global, in nature.

Yet jettisoning nearly a century of prohibition when the putative benefits remain so uncertain and the potential costs are so high would require a herculean leap of faith. Only an extremely severe and widespread deterioration of the current drug situation, nationally and internationally—is likely to produce the consensus—again, nationally and internationally that could impel such a leap. Even then the legislative challenge would be stupendous. The debate over how to set the conditions for controlling access to each of a dozen popular drugs could consume the legislatures of the major industrial countries for years.

None of this should deter further analysis of drug legalization. In particular, a rigorous assessment of a range of hypothetical regulatory regimes according to a common set of variables would clarify their potential costs, benefits, and trade- offs. Besides instilling much-needed rigor into any further discussion of the legalization alternative, such analysis could encourage the same level of scrutiny of current drug control programs and policies. With the situation apparently deteriorating in the United States as well as abroad, there is no better time for a fundamental reassessment of whether our existing responses to this problem are sufficient to meet the likely challenges ahead.

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Public Health Implications of Cannabis Legalization: An Exploration of Adolescent Use and Evidence-Based Interventions

Joseph donnelly.

1 Department of Public Health, Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ 07043, USA; ude.rialctnom@eittudlas

Michael Young

2 Center for Evidence-Based Programming, South Padre Island, TX 78597, USA; moc.oohay@desab_ecnedive

Brenda Marshall

3 Department of Nursing, William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ 07470, USA; ude.jnupw@3bllahsram

Michael L. Hecht

4 REAL Prevention LLC, Clifton, NJ 07013, USA; moc.liamg@uspthceh

Elena Saldutti

This article examines the relaxation of state marijuana laws, changes in adolescent use of marijuana, and implications for drug education. Under federal law, use of marijuana remains illegal. In spite of this federal legislation, as of 1 June 2021, 36 states, four territories and the District of Columbia have enacted medical marijuana laws. There are 17 states, two territories and the District of Columbia that have also passed recreational marijuana laws. One of the concerns regarding the enactment of legislation that has increased access to marijuana is the possibility of increased adolescent use of marijuana. While there are documented benefits of marijuana use for certain medical conditions, we know that marijuana use by young people can interfere with brain development, so increased marijuana use by adolescents raises legitimate health concerns. A review of results from national survey data, including CDC’s YRBS, Monitoring the Future, and the National Household Survey on Drug Use, allows us to document changes in marijuana use over time. Increased legal access to marijuana also has implications for educational programming. A “Reefer Madness” type educational approach no longer works (if it ever did). We explore various strategies, including prevention programs for education about marijuana, and make recommendations for health educators.

1. Introduction

Under federal law, the use of marijuana remains illegal. In spite of this federal legislation, as of 1 June 2021, 36 states, four territories and the District of Columbia have enacted medical marijuana laws. There are 17 states, two territories and the District of Columbia that have also passed recreational marijuana laws. One of the concerns regarding the enactment of legislation that has increased access to marijuana is the possibility of increased adolescent use of marijuana. This concern has been raised by parents, educators, researchers, public health professionals, and other community stakeholders. In states that have increased legal access to marijuana, has there been an increase in adolescent marijuana use? How has use impacted adolescents? From both a public policy standpoint and educational perspective, how might we best approach the issue of reducing adolescent marijuana use? In this commentary, we will briefly explore the scope of marijuana legalization, the impact recreational legalization has had on the adolescent population, and the national and international response.

It may be surprising for some to discover that at the federal level, marijuana is still considered a Schedule I Substance under the Controlled Substance Act [ 1 ]. However, in 2013, the US Department of Justice updated their marijuana enforcement policy in an effort to address the state legalization initiatives. The policy confirmed that marijuana remained an illegal drug, but states would continue to be given the authority to determine marijuana laws and enforcement [ 2 ]. It appears that the federal policy requires states to enact their own regulatory protocols concerning “production, distribution, and possession of marijuana” [ 2 ]. This raises the question as to why federal law continues to prohibit marijuana use. The year 2022 may be a pivotal one for marijuana legalization. Congress is set to discuss several marijuana initiatives, including decriminalizing marijuana possession and use, and removing marijuana from the Schedule I Substance listing [ 3 ].

If one wants to learn more about the frequency with which marijuana, or other drugs, are used in the United States, there are several easily accessible sources, including Monitoring the Future, CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. If, however, researchers were to use these sources in an attempt to determine the impact of recreational legalization of marijuana on adolescent marijuana use, they would be hard pressed to find a consistent trend [ 4 ]. Variability also exists when comparing pre and post recreational legalization rates in those states that have legalized recreational marijuana. For example, some states actually show decreases in adolescent use post-recreational legalization, while other states report increased use in select populations (e.g., recurrent marijuana users [ 5 ], college students [ 6 ]). Additionally, it is important to note a major limitation involving the most recent data collection years–the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. COVID-19 significantly affected data collection methods for the 2019–2020 annual report; no data were recorded from mid-March until September 2020 [ 4 ]. As such, the authors caution against using such information when determining outcomes. With widespread surges of COVID-19 brought on by the Delta and the Omicron variants, in 2021, and continuing into 2022, the pandemic may continue to be an obstacle to obtaining accurate data. This makes it extraordinarily challenging to consider the impact of recreational legalization on the adolescent population, as the best data we have may well not provide an accurate reflection of actual use. When one considers the eight states that moved to legalize recreational marijuana during 2020 and 2021, attempting to determine changes in use, simply by comparing numbers, before and after legalization, will not likely provide accurate results [ 4 ].

Recent, but pre COVID-19, research, indicated that marijuana legalization has had a minimal impact on adolescent drug use however [ 7 ]. While some people may assume that legalizing recreational marijuana will increase use of marijuana by adolescence, at this point, we simply do not know whether this is actually the case. It is never easy to collect accurate data concerning adolescent drug use, but conditions surrounding the pandemic, including increased adolescent social isolation and significant disruptions in data collection, create substantial limitations.

Research has, however, substantiated the negative impact that recreational marijuana has had on general public health, specifically increases in emergency room visits, motor vehicle crashes, and traffic fatalities. In Colorado, significant increases were reported in all of three of these measures when comparing numbers prior to recreational legalization to post-recreational legalization [ 8 ]. These findings suggest that, perhaps, it may be easier to identify indirect consequences of recreational marijuana legalization, including the immediate and longer-term impact of prevention program.

2. Impact of Legalization

Legalization of cannabis has had both intended and unintended consequences. Medical marijuana can have some positive benefits for some health conditions. The legalization of recreational marijuana has also had a positive impact on increasing state tax revenue and decreasing arrests for simple possession charges. Cannabis, as a product, also has negative health consequences that can have serious long-term effects when used by youth or abused by youth and adults. This section will examine the unintended, however not entirely unexpected, consequences that legalization of cannabis has on youth. Canada legalized use, possession and sale of recreational cannabis in 2018 [ 9 ]. Unlike the United States, Canada has a federal requirement that all cannabis products carry a warning message concerning THC (Frequent and prolonged use of cannabis containing THC can contribute to mental health problems over time. Daily or near-daily use increases the risk of dependence and may bring on or worsen disorders related to anxiety and depression). Canada also requires tamper-proof packaging that is child resistant [ 9 ]. This pre-emptive consideration for protecting youth reflects the understanding that brain response to drugs and toxins have great variability during the life span, especially where neuro-toxicity is concerned [ 10 ]. Despite these proactive interventions, Canada has witnessed increases in severe cannabis intoxication in pediatric patients since legalization, with the ingestion of cannabis edibles the strongest predictor of intensive care admissions [ 11 ].

2.1. Youth Substance Use

2.1.1. youth under 12 years of age.

The National Poison Data System identified a rise in cannabis ingestion in children 0–6 years old, with over 70% of those cases in states with legalized recreational use. These are only the cases where the child has been brought to the hospital for treatment, so the general number of children in this age group ingesting cannabis is unknown [ 12 ]. In this age group, the researchers concluded that increases in access to cannabis edibles due to legalization was a contributing factor in the rise of cases [ 12 ].

2.1.2. Adolescent Cannabis Use

Scheier and Griffin (2021) also examined the availability of cannabis to minors, specifically adolescents [ 13 ]. As reported in the 2020 Marijuana Research Report, adolescent marijuana use (i.e., 8th, 10th and 12th graders) peaked in the late 1990s and began to decline through the mid-2000s before leveling off [ 14 ]. In 2021, an estimated 7.1% of 8th graders, 17.3% of 10th graders, and 30.5% of 12th graders reported using marijuana in the past 12 months [ 15 ]. Additionally, the majority of 12th graders who used marijuana in the last year preferred vaping as their method of administration [ 16 ]. There is also evidence that cannabis users are also more likely to smoke tobacco cigarettes [ 17 ]. Increased use, especially seen in the ‘past thirty day’ category, correlates with the decreased perception of risk when using [ 13 ].

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no safe amount of cannabis use for adolescents [ 17 ]. The general impact of cannabis use on the adolescent brain affects memory, decision-making, attention and motivation [ 17 , 18 ]. Early studies related to the impact of cannabis on personality development indicated that use of cannabis by adolescents is more attractive to those who have specific characteristics including isolation, social criticism, and alienation [ 19 ]. More recent studies have demonstrated that there is a relationship between impulsive, risk-seeking behaviors, identified as neurobehavioral disinhibition, and use of cannabis [ 13 ]. Research demonstrates that there are some youth who will be more physiologically and psychologically drawn to using cannabis, regardless of its legalization status. With legalization also comes normalization, which opens the door for usage by those who otherwise, if it were not legal, would be unlikely to participate.

Certainly not all adolescents who try marijuana will go on to be chronic users, defined as use at an early age with continued and increasing use over time. For those who, however, do become chronic users the impact can be dire. Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD), which develops in chronic users, increases the risk of lower self-expectations, lower life and work satisfaction, poor academic performance and places the youth at higher risk for developing other substance use disorders [ 20 ]. CUD results in poorer cognitions in the areas of memory and executive functioning, can result in changes in brain structure and functioning resulting in altered decision-making capacity [ 16 ].

There is an abundance of evidence from multiple studies, including systematic reviews, which demonstrates how cannabis use affects adolescent development of psychiatric disorders [ 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 ]. As indicated by Radhakrishnan et al. (2014), youth exposure to cannabinoids, which would include Spice and K2, underlies some of the transient psychiatric symptoms that mimic psychosis. The moderators of this response to cannabis and cannabinoids include genetics, family history, ACEs, and age of initial use. These correlations do not indicate causation; however, they do provide research with the red flag that identifies the use of cannabis as one of the components in the increasing identification of psychosis in youth. Additionally, in 2020, a comprehensive review of the literature demonstrated that “Prospective epidemiological studies have consistently demonstrated that cannabis use is associated with an increased risk of subsequently experiencing psychotic symptoms and developing schizophrenia-like psychosis (26). There is a dose–response effect revealing that as consumption of cannabis increases so do the adverse psychiatric effects [ 13 ]. Adolescent cannabis use was also positively correlated with an increased risk for psychosis; however, the correlation does not indicate any causation. This association between increased risk for psychotic events, psychosis, and relapsing psychosis for adolescent cannabis use has also been well documented in a number of studies [ 23 ]. The moderating variables for the development of psychosis are frequency and amount of cannabis use and the potency of the drug. Dosage and age of onset of use increases the risk of severe psychotic response, as does exposure to childhood trauma, identified as adverse childhood experiences (ACES). On a positive note, studies have demonstrated that abstinence from cannabis use, as short as three months, can bring the youth back to healthy levels of brain functioning [ 18 ].

All youth, especially adolescents, are at risk for negative outcomes from cannabis use. This may be due to the important neuromaturation that occurs in adolescence, particularly in the area of executive function (prefrontal networks). At present, projections of effects of cannabis on the adolescent brain are based on older data, when levels of use were lower and potency was less. New strains of cannabis, combined with the current favorite route of administration (vaping), may impact brain development even further. Children with emotional challenges are at higher risk of substance use for self-medication, which then increases their likelihood of developing a psychiatric disorder. Additional research is needed to better understand the effects of marijuana use on adolescents, as well as the effects of legalization on adolescent use.

In the meantime, what can public policy makers, educators, parents, and public health professionals to educate young people about the risks of marijuana use? What prevention approaches seem to have the most impact?

2.2. Prevention

Legalization of recreational and medical marijuana has had several consequences as documented in this paper. However, to date, little is known about the implications of these changes on substance use prevention and particularly the focus on marijuana in those efforts. As prevention specialists work to find ways to deal with the legalization of recreational marijuana, it may be worth noting that in all states recreational use of both alcohol and tobacco is legal. Should education to reduce the health risks of marijuana differ markedly from education to reduce the health risks of alcohol and tobacco?

It is beyond the scope of this article to examine all drug prevention interventions. Instead, we have chosen to focus on two programs. The first is a take-home parent–child program, one that promotes parent engagement. The second program is a school-based, classroom intervention. Both programs are theory-based. Keep A Clear Mind, the parent engagement program makes use of Social Norms Theory, the Health Belief Model, and the Theory of Planned Behavior. Keepin’ it REAL, the classroom-based intervention makes use of Social Emotional Learning Theory and Narrative Engagement Theory. It is unclear at this time which behavioral theories will be most helpful to curriculum developers in developing effective prevention programs for adolescents. It is clear that these two programs have made use of different behavior theories, but have both produced positive results

2.2.1. Parent Engagement

Keep A Clear Mind [ 27 ] is a parent–child, take-home program in drug education. The program has received a number of awards and recognitions and is listed on the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices. The program includes four student activity booklets (alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, choices), four student incentives, and five parent newsletters. Students take the activity books home, one per week, and do the program with their parents. This largely involves reading material together and answering simple questions. Students receive a small incentive (bumper sticker, book mark, etc.) for showing their teacher that their parents have signed indicating they have worked with them to complete the activity booklet. After four weeks of activity booklets, the newsletters are sent home, again, one per week (or one every other week). The program is easy to use and because the program is done at home, it takes very little classroom time.

The sections of the “We choose not to use Marijuana” activity booklet, like the alcohol and tobacco activity booklets, include Let’s Talk About (in this case-marijuana), And that’s a Fact, Why do people choose not to use, Think for yourself, and a Contract to Think for Yourself (about marijuana). In the Let’s Talk About section, factual information is provided about marijuana, including information about legalization. This section acknowledges that more than half of the states in the U.S. have made some legal provision for the medical use of marijuana and a number of states have made recreational use of marijuana legal. Like alcohol and tobacco, even in states where recreational use is legal, it is only legal for adults. In this section, the program also reminds the readers that by federal law, marijuana use is illegal for everyone, even if used strictly for medical purposes.

Prevention specialists understand that information/knowledge is a necessary, but insufficient precursor to behavior change. Thus, the Keep A Clear Mind prevention strategy for alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana is to present material in the context of health behavior theory. For example, social norms theory [ 28 ] suggests that our behavior is influenced by our perceptions or misperceptions of these norms. If we think everyone is doing “it,” regardless of what that may be, we are more likely to do it ourselves.

Keep A Clear Mind also makes use of the Health Belief Model [ 29 ], presenting information about how marijuana affects the body. This includes some effects that potentially are quite serious (severity) and which can and do occur among adolescent users (susceptibility). The program also helps young people understand that the benefits of choosing not to use marijuana far outweigh any perceived benefits and real risks of using (risks/benefits). Finally, Keep A Clear Mind helps young people learn to say “no” and gives them practice in doing so (self-efficacy).

The Theory of Planned Behavior is based on the concepts of intention and perceived behavior control. A person who has the intention to engage in a behavior is more likely to actually engage in the behavior than someone who does not have that intention. Intentions are influenced by attitude towards the behavior and subjective norms. If children value what their parents think, and they believe their parents clearly do not want them to use marijuana, then the children are less likely to have the intention to use marijuana. Because Keep A Clear Mind involves children and parents working through and discussing material together, it gives parents a real opportunity to let their children know how they feel about the use of marijuana. Again, Keep A Clear Mind makes it clear that the vast majority of people do not smoke marijuana.

Perceived behavioral control refers to one’s perception of control over their behavior. It is assumed that this concept is reflective of the obstacles one has encountered in past behavioral performances. That is, people with higher perceived control are more likely to form intentions to perform a particular action than people who perceive they have little or no control. Keep A Clear Mind walks young people through the steps to saying no and gives them opportunities to practice saying no. The idea here is to enhance self-efficacy and create higher perceived control.

How is the program’s approach to marijuana different from its approach to alcohol and tobacco? Keep A Clear Mind indicates that alcohol and tobacco are drugs that are legal for adults to use. It also indicates that while under federal law, marijuana is an illegal drug, in some states, provisions have been made for medical use, and for adults, recreational use. Other than the mention of these differences related to legal status, there is little difference in approach to prevention across the three drugs. Keep A Clear Mind is available from the Center for Evidence-Based Programming. The web address is www.keepaclearmind.com .

2.2.2. Classroom Intervention

D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), the largest school-based substance use prevention program in the U.S. Initiated in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s, D.A.R.E. once had a footprint in over 90% of the schools in the U.S. Following evaluations that did not support its efficacy, this footprint shrank noticeably, although it remained the largest such program. In response, D.A.R.E. made the determination that it was a dissemination vehicle rather than a curriculum and sought an evidence-based program to fill the void. Turning to information sources such as the National Registry of Evidence-based programs and practices (NREPP), now largely defunct, D.A.R.E. reviewed interventions that were deemed “model programs”, NREPP’s highest designation, and chose keepin’ it REAL due to its strong outcome evaluation evidence and a multicultural strategy that fit a national program. It was eventually endorsed in the Surgeon General’s report on addiction and found to have a $72:1 cost–benefit ratio in an independent evaluation.

The original keepin’ it REAL (kiR) was developed for implementation by teachers in middle schools using narrative and social emotional learning frameworks that stressed a highly interactive lesson plan. Social emotional learning theory (SEL) is premised on the idea that if youth develop strong, basic competencies they will be less likely to engage in risky and unhealthy behaviors such as substance use [ 30 ]. From this perspective, there is no need to focus on specific risk behaviors such as substance use since the competencies apply to all risks. This, of course, means that specific marijuana content is not obligated.

The premise of the companion narrative approach, derived from Narrative Engagement Theory, is that engaging stories (i.e., meet the criteria of realism, interest, and identification) provide mental and behavior models that re-story or change the narrative about a topic, in this case substances. Strategically, this involved performances of indigenous narratives about the SEL competencies that presented a drug-free life as fun and normative and resisting offers of drugs as communicatively and relationally competent. Here, introducing stories about marijuana would be useful; however, in a changing legal and resulting social environment presenting stories that are static (e.g., those in videos or written form) is problematic because the narrative is changing rapidly.

It should be noted that neither approach emphasizes drug information and its companion fear appeals (i.e., scaring youth not to use drugs), which had been the main strategy of many prior prevention interventions, and which had not proved to be an effective strategy in several meta-analyses. Instead, drug “facts” were used in the lesson on risks and consequences.

When D.A.R.E. licensed kiR in the mid-2000s, they were onboard with these approaches, although it was agreed that the lessons had to be “DARE-ified” to adapt to delivery by police officers. While D.A.R.E. provides an extensive, 80-h training, the officers are not classroom teachers and, as a result, require more explicit instructions (i.e., they cannot simply be told to “lead a discussion”). During this process, the original kiR premise of presenting drug facts/information only in the context of the lesson on risks and consequences and only about alcohol and tobacco came under question. Since the previous D.A.R.E. curricula had placed much heavier emphasis on information (and maybe fear?) and D.A.R.E. serves multiple constituencies, some of which maintain a belief in drug information and fear tactics, this proved challenging. Others raised the valid point that marijuana was prevalent in their communities and the students they taught would want to know about it. The developers were told that the officers needed to be prepared to respond to questions about marijuana that they were likely to face. A work group on the topic was convened and created a “discussion guide” for officers to use to address marijuana, a topic that was likely to become increasingly relevant under widespread legalization of cannabis throughout the U.S, both Medical and Recreational legalization. The strategy that was developed was to treat marijuana like any other topic that might come up in discussions of risks and consequences by using questions to focus students to apply what they had learned to this substance. The officers are told:

“If students introduce the subject of marijuana, not only does this satisfy the concern of age appropriateness, but it also serves as an indication that the ensuing discussion will have particular meaning to the students. It is proven to be more effective to discuss drugs, risks and consequences, decision-making, and resistance strategies when the students show an interest by initiating the discussion. As part of the D.A.R.E. kiR elementary curriculum, a discussion guide has been provided to D.A.R.E. officers for incorporation into lessons when appropriate. The marijuana discussion guide has been constructed so that it reflects the design of the D.A.R.E. kiR elementary lessons, when employed it integrates in a seamless fashion.”

The officers were then told to remind students about the definition of a drug and discuss if marijuana meets it. Then remind them about risk and consequences, again discussing the application to marijuana. Officers were provided with information they could use about the effects on the mind and body to facilitate this discussion.

The advantage of this approach is that it allowed a national program to respond in a way that adjusted to local circumstances, including legalization status and community norms. It also allowed class discussion to adapt content to the local culture—the stories or narrative that emerges localizes the curriculum. With the emergence of vaping, it also allows adjustment to different delivery mechanisms. Unfortunately, over the years changes in D.A.R.E.’s administration led to the abandonment of this discussion guide, leaving officers to fend for themselves. As with any large, national organization it is likely that a great deal of variation has emerged in how the topic is handled.

3. Conclusions

The emerging marijuana legalization landscape provides both challenges and opportunities for the prevention community. One hopes that norms and attitudes would not become overly positive, i.e., legalization will not be equated with safety or health. It seems clear that the potential profits for the cannabis industries, and the lure of increased tax revenue, will likely translate into even more states, and possibly the federal government, legalizing marijuana. The argument has often been made that marijuana is no worse than alcohol or tobacco. The research available today may not allow one to accurately quantify the relative risk of these three drugs. For arguments sake, however, say there is no difference in risk. That is not much of a recommendation. Remember, 88,000 people die each year in the U.S. from alcohol-related causes and tobacco is responsible for 480,000 deaths per year in the U.S. (and millions of deaths each year worldwide). Regardless of legal status, it is important to encourage young people to avoid using marijuana—and alcohol and tobacco. We should also encourage business and policy makers to look beyond profits and revenue streams in addressing legalization.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, J.D. Introduction, J.D. and E.S. Youth Substance Use, B.M. Parent Engagement (Keep A Clear Mind), M.Y. Classroom Interventions (keepin’ it REAL), M.L.H. Writing—Review and editing, E.S. Funding Acquisition, J.D. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Conflicts of interest.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Marijuana Legalization - Free Essay Examples And Topic Ideas

Marijuana legalization is a contentious issue with implications for health, economy, and society. Essays might explore the arguments for and against legalization, the experiences of regions where marijuana has been legalized, and the legal, economic, and social ramifications of legalization. Additionally, discussions might extend to the medical uses of marijuana, its impact on the criminal justice system, and its societal perceptions. We have collected a large number of free essay examples about Marijuana Legalization you can find in Papersowl database. You can use our samples for inspiration to write your own essay, research paper, or just to explore a new topic for yourself.

Marijuana Legalization and Regulation

Medications/Drugs are a part of everyday life. We take medications for various ailments, to return ourselves to good health. Yet, as time and healthcare technology have moved along, we have discovered that some medications or drugs are inherently good (i.e.: antibiotics, cancer medications, and insulin) and some are inherently bad or, at least, can be used for bad purposes (i.e.: mind altering substances such as LSD, and cocaine). The "bad" drugs can be deadly. They have effects that can addict […]

Medical Marijuana and Marijuana Legalization

Thursday, June 09, 2011 Much debate has been conducted regarding the legalization of marijuana, with an unusual amount of contradicting research. There are many perspectives to take into account, and they always seem to come down to the personal motives of the debater. Whether it's being argued from a medical, political, or economical perspective; it continually comes down to whether Federal Government should be our dictators or we should be responsible for our actions. The Canadian medical Association Journal reports […]

Marijuana should be Legalized?

We are living in an era where noxious things like alcohol, rum and cigarettes -that lead us to nothing but a dreadful death- are legal, and a plant which has no obnoxious effects on our body and mind is illegal. For years and years, marijuana has been used as a mean to achieve elation. The criterion to impose a ban on something, or to term it illegal, is that its cons should overshadow its pros; and that it will have […]

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Medical Marijuana Legalization the Good Bad and Ugly

The legalization of medical marijuana has been discussed amongst the country's states for decades. Medical marijuana legalization has taken a positive shift throughout these years and is now legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia. The initial drug, marijuana, was band for the dangerous effects it brought to people. Throughout the year's people have turned to marijuana to ease anxiety, pain, and stress. Legalizing marijuana has brought multiple perspectives on the topic. Differences such as medical marijuana legalization, […]

Medical Marijuana Legalization

Marijuana legalization has become a topic of relevance in the United States as recent changes in various state legislations fuel the controversial issue relating to its effects on society. With more than thirty states legalizing marijuana for medicinal or recreational uses, the once taboo topic has reemerged into the spotlight for policymakers to consider the benefits and adverse effects of cannabis for state legislation. Although the legal status is changing nationwide, the uncertainties surrounding marijuana today stem from the political […]

Pros and Cons of Legalizing Marijuana

When we first picked our topic for our presentations I had an idea of what we were going to do. Ideas from school shootings to you and human trafficking were some I was thinking of. The drug epidemic was what first came to thought but I felt that was to broad of of a topic. With state after state legalizing Medical or Recreational Marijuana it is becoming more likely within the near future will become federally legal. Today there are […]

Against Marijuana Legalization

In my high school years I met a lot of people, I’ve meet hundreds of people who ruined their lives by just “trying” a drug. One of those friends is named Carmen, my dear friend Carmen smokes marijuana recreationally everyday, she’s tried everything under the rainbow; pot brownies, gummi bears, cookies, anything that you can think of is probably an edible. She’s even forced me to try marijuana when we were in high school once. It was the worst experience […]

Marijuana Legalization in Texas: an In-Depth Examination of the Ongoing Debate

The contentious issue of marijuana legalization has engendered fervent discourse across the United States, resulting in a patchwork of divergent legislation among different states. The state of Texas, renowned for its traditionally conservative ideology, is now grappling with a pivotal juncture as it engages in more prevalent deliberations around the legalization of marijuana. The primary objective of this essay is to critically analyze the complex and intricate discourse pertaining to the subject matter in the state of Texas. This analysis […]

Legalization of Marijuana: Good or Bad

The legalization of marijuana is a hot topic these days. Marijuana has been legalized in many different states. Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2012. Since then, Texas has been talking of legalizing it as well. Although the legalization of marijuana has brought quite a bit of controversy over the nation, I believe the good outweigh the bad. Marijuana is used for different medical reasons, ranging from anxiety all the way to helping some side effects of cancer. Many […]

Legalization of Recreational Marijuana

Marijuana, also known as pot, weed, kush, or dank, is a debated topic nationwide. Surveys have shown that " more than half of American adults have tried marijuana at least once in their lives ...nearly 55 million of them, or twenty two percent, currently use it"(Ingraham). Many people believe that there are only few negative effects affiliated with smoking weed, but there are many poor and preventable outcomes that are not always taken into consideration. The effects of marijuana on […]

A Legalized Drug in the United States

In the United States, marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs that should have been legalized a long time ago along with alcohol. Although, 15 states in the United States have already legalized the use of marijuana, many others still lag behind at the thought of even legalizing Cannabis. In addition, many people think that marijuana is a bad drug, while on the other hand, people like myself believe for many reasons that it should be legalized. Marijuana […]

Pro-Legalization of Marijuana

Marijuana has always been a much-discussed subject that has sparked heated discussions among experts and officials, in addition to a perpetual dialogue among family and associates. This is primarily due to the fact that people are still divided on whether cannabis should be legalized or not. While many people are aware of the dangers of cannabis for recreational purposes, many states are pushing for the legalization of medical cannabis. Several studies of cannabinoid elements have revealed its medicinal qualities, which […]

Proposal One: Impact on Warren, MI’s Future

Proposal One is the allowing of individuals age 21 and older to purchase, possess and use marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles, and grow up to 12 marijuana plants for personal consumption. Impose a 10-ounce limit for marijuana kept at residences and require that amounts over 2.5 ounces be secured in locked containers. Creating a state licensing system for marijuana businesses including growers, processors, and transporters. Ryan Mainer (Libertarian party) supports proposal one. How do we know this is true? He has […]

The Legalization of Marijuana Today

Over the last decade, there has been plenty of speculation revolving around the whether the legalization of marijuana is even ethical, well it is here, and it is legal. For the time being it happens to be in only a select number of states. Despite some people not agreeing with various laws that have decriminalized marijuana because they still believe it is a harmful "drug" for humans. Well when the facts reveal the real benefits from marijuana and how it […]

Legalization of Marijuana: the Current Situation

Scholars are increasingly exhibiting interest in matters concerning marijuana legalization especially considering laws related to healthcare. The increments in interest emanate from concerns that legalization of this drug is not in alignment with existing health-related laws according to the federal government (Kilmer et al., 2010). According to Hopfer (2014), the government has failed to fully support legalization because few studies have been conducted to prove its medicinal worth. Nonetheless, medical legalization of this particular drug is increasingly gaining support. A […]

Marijuana Decriminalization in all States

The government should legalize marijuana on the federal use due to the multifaceted health, economic, and criminal benefits now outweigh the outdated downsides of use. Many researchers have come to the conclusion of outdated research not being correct. "One function of government is to protect citizens from harm, whether it is from foreign enemies or from internal causes such as poisonous food or contaminated water." Researchers believe that legalizing marijuana will not help the people only harm them and the […]

The Cost and Benefit of Legalization of Marijuana

In recent years, marijuana has become a controversial topic, and the United States government has been struggling to find a solution for the legalization of marijuana. Some argue that the government should legalize marijuana because it is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco. They also believe legalizing marijuana will decrease crime rates, especially drug trafficking. It is because marijuana is illegal in most states, and its penalties are often quite harsh, which can deter people from committing related crimes. Others […]

Legalization of Marijuana Throughout States

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The Impacts of Legalizing Marijuana

The impacts of legalizing marijuana have been far reaching. Legal or not, there are health issues to consider when it comes to medicinal purposes or recreational purposes. Studies show that non-medical marijuana users are at an increased risk for physical ailments involving the respiratory system and pulmonary functions. Psychological problems are also a concern, involving depression, insomnia, anxiety, and drug addiction. Other things associated with marijuana use are criminal justice involvement and lower academic achievement and functioning (Lankenau, et al., […]

Legalization of Marijuana and Economic Growth

These would make occupations as well as set the ball moving for financial action in the pot business in these regions. On account of states like California and Nevada where such foundation as of now exists, the financial effect has turned out to be more quantifiable as the part has developed. A RCG Economics and Marijuana Policy Group consider on Nevada says that legitimizing recreational marijuana in the state could bolster more than 41,000 employments till 2024 and produce over […]

Marijuana as a Psychoactive Drug

Marijuana is a psychoactive drug from the Cannabis plant used for medical or recreational purposes. It is sold in the form of dried leaves which can be smoked. Recreational marijuana was introduced in the U.S in the early 20th century by immigrants from Mexico. Marijuana is a controversial topic in the United States because many people think it shouldn't be legalized . Some will agree on making it legal throughout the United States, and some would think otherwise. Many debates […]

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How To Write an Essay About Marijuana Legalization

Introduction to marijuana legalization.

When embarking on an essay about marijuana legalization, it's crucial to begin with a comprehensive overview of the topic. Marijuana legalization is a multifaceted issue that encompasses legal, medical, social, and economic dimensions. Your introduction should briefly touch upon the history of marijuana use and its legal status over time, setting the stage for a deeper exploration of the arguments for and against legalization. Establish your thesis statement, outlining the specific aspect of marijuana legalization you will focus on, whether it's the potential medical benefits, the social implications, or the economic impact of legalizing marijuana.

Examining the Arguments for Legalization

In this section, delve into the arguments commonly made in favor of legalizing marijuana. These arguments often include the potential medical benefits of marijuana, such as its use in pain management and treatment of certain medical conditions. Discuss the viewpoint that legalization could lead to better regulation and quality control of the substance, as well as potentially reduce crime rates related to illegal drug trade. It's also important to consider the economic aspect, such as the revenue generated from taxing legal marijuana sales. Provide well-researched evidence and examples to support these arguments, ensuring that your essay presents a balanced and informed perspective.

Exploring the Counterarguments

Next, address the arguments against marijuana legalization. These may include concerns about the health risks associated with marijuana use, such as potential impacts on mental health and cognitive function, especially among young people. Discuss the fears that legalization might lead to increased usage rates, particularly in adolescents, and the potential for marijuana to act as a gateway drug. There's also the argument regarding the challenges of enforcing regulations and controlling the quality and distribution of legal marijuana. Like the previous section, ensure that you present these counterarguments with supporting evidence and a fair analysis, demonstrating an understanding of the complexities of the issue.

Concluding the Essay

Conclude your essay by summarizing the main points from both sides of the argument. This is your opportunity to reinforce your thesis and provide a final analysis of the issue based on the evidence presented. Reflect on the potential future of marijuana legalization, considering the current trends and policy changes. A well-crafted conclusion should provide closure to your essay and encourage the reader to continue contemplating the nuanced aspects of marijuana legalization. Your concluding remarks might also suggest areas for further research or consideration, underscoring the ongoing nature of the debate surrounding marijuana legalization.

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Drugs Legalization Essay Examples

Why marijuana shouldn't be legalized: examining the concerns.

The debate surrounding the legalization of marijuana has gained momentum in recent years, with proponents highlighting its potential medical benefits and economic opportunities. However, it is crucial to critically examine the concerns and risks associated with marijuana use and its broader societal implications. In this...

Cannabis Legalization in Canada is Coming

Cannabis legalization is almost upon us! All is not smooth sailing, though. There are some cities across Canada that have decided to leap off the bandwagon just shy of October 17, 2018. The upcoming nationwide legalization of marijuana has left Canada in a state of...

The Pragmatic Legalization of Cannabis

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Possible Benefits of Steroids Legalization

If each of us has the freedom of choice to take the risks we wish to endure. Shouldn’t professional athletes have the freedom to do so just like the rest of us? Steroids are used by professionals to boost their performance and to help their...

The Kye Elements of Australian and Portuguese Drug Policies

Drugs are produced and used in countries all over the world. In many of these countries, namely Australia and Portugal, they attract a significant amount of political and social interest. The vast difference between these countries though, are the drug laws that are enforced. The...

Drugs Legalization in the United States

The debate on the decriminalization of drug use in the United States is a long and complex one, started many years ago and likely to go on for many years to come. While everyone has their own opinion on whether or not people should do...

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