General Question

_Whitetigress's avatar

What are the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana?

Asked by _Whitetigress (4354 points ) August 21st, 2012

In California, as you may know, medicinal marijuana is legal, yet illegal by federal standards and dispensaries are shut down by the feds.

1. Would legalizing it help the economy? Or worsen?
2. How would legalizing it work out overall? Limited monthly purchases?
3. What are your overall thoughts on medicinal marijuana?

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27 Answers

Linda_Owl's avatar

I think that legalizing marijuana would generate enough taxes that it could benefit the economy. It would also allow the end user to not be subject to being arrested & it would reduce the number of people who get sent to prison for possession of marijuana. As for medicinal marijuana, science has shown that it helps in a great many health situations & I think it should be allowed. And I am saying this not as a user of marijuana, I do not smoke & I do not drink – but I think that marijuana should be on the same basis as alcohol.

Qingu's avatar

It would be a huge detriment to the private-run prison economy.

I see that as a pro, of course.

dabbler's avatar

Downside, some jobs lost:
Assuming amnesty for prior offenders for simple possession, the huge cost saving in imprisonment costs will correspond to joblessness for some of the prison industrial complex.
New cases of violent drug-trafficking crime will reduce, too, resulting in less demand for very expensive maximum-security, probably meaning additional job-reduction and reduced profits in the same unfortunate incarceration corporations.

Upside: .... some are suggested in the OP, including taxation of legal commerce in the vegetation, and there are lots more

(@Qingu, same track ! I should have posted ½ hour ago when I wrote the above, but I got distracted by a re-run BattleStar Gallactica episode.)

wonderingwhy's avatar

Give the choice to the individual and move on. You can blend alcohol and cigaret taxes and restrictions to enforce how it is used and repurpose some (I suspect better than half) of the money and resources used to enforce the current laws. Not to mention the erasure of a lot of minor criminal records, and possibly testing, for many people that hurt their chances of employment. There are cons of course, healthcare, rehab, and abuse jump to mind, but I don’t see those as sufficiently insurmountable to justify a flat restriction on general adult use.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Pro’s
Tax revenue, less criminal crap, medical relief, and muchies.
Con’s
Some people hide in it, smoke.
No brainer I guess.

Coloma's avatar

I see zero reason to not legalize it, tax it like alcohol and cigarettes and impose alcohol related penalties for DUI’s, revocation of license and severe fines for those that decide to go driving when they are high.
Anything used to excess is not good, but, quite frankly I think it is insane, considering the number of alcoholics in this world, deaths from drunk drivers, and all the other evils of booze.

Booze IS, hands down, the worst of drugs and it is perfectly legal. Marijuana does not cause anywhere near the issues that alcohol does IMO.

captainsmooth's avatar

I think it would work out great, with the exceptions of educational and legal materials that would need to be reprinted.

woodcutter's avatar

I’d like to see the penalties for other drug possession offenses doubled if pot gets the ok. It might make people think pot is good enough and meth is a life ender. Because I really hate methheads. And crackheads… I hate them too. Potheads are generally harmless or sometimes annoying but that can be worked around. They generally don’t bug people in a bad way. I still wouldn’t like to work with one but hell it should be easy enough to leave the stuff at home.

I would really like to try to grow some because my wife could benefit from using it sometimes. Maybe even have some edible plants in there too. There still would be the problem of thieves taking your stash after growing it all summer, which could cause some people to get shot.

bkcunningham's avatar

If pot became legalized, @woodcutter, I seriously doubt you would be able to grow your own supply. It would be tightly regulated with penalties for breaking the laws that would be passed to govern the sale and use of the drug.

All of the penalties that are in place now surrounding marajuana would remain in place and would become tweaked to include legal age of possession and amount. I think government officials would take their cues from their experience with controlling the sale of certain OTC cold meds. You have to sign for it and would be restricted on how much you are allowed to purchase in a given timeframe.

Legalization would impose more regulations on the drug than currently exist and drive prices higher.

wilma's avatar

Medical Marihuana, yes that is how they spell it, Is legal where I live. These are some of the guidelines.
http://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-35299_28150_51869_52137---,00.html

I voted to legalize it and I think it’s a good thing. It is highly regulated and dispensaries are often shut down for illegal activity.
Yes you can grow your own and I know people who do. They nake their cookies and brownies and lotions with their marijuana.
As far as legalizing it for everyone, I am in favor of decriminalizing it and would be OK with having legal use for adults as long as it was treated with respect and highly regulated at least as much as alcohol.

Paradox25's avatar

Pro Legalizing Cannabis would put a major dent in the profit incentive of the prison industrial complex. If I’m a true liberal.
Con Legalizing Cannabis would put a major dent in the profit incentive of the prison industrial complex. If I’m a true authoritarian.

woodcutter's avatar

@bkcunningham It is legal to brew your own beer as long as you don’t go over a certain gallon amount. I would imagine that is to discourage large quantities produced for sale thus avoiding the paying of taxes and for possibly quality control of it being sold to the public. I think they would allow a certain amount of home grown as long as it is for personal consumption only. I couldn’t imagine it becoming legal without that in there. Because the lawmakers know it will be done. As it is now. It’s all in the proof. Prove it that I didn’t get this weed at the smoke shop. It’s not like you can put serial #‘s on it. Making a law that will be unenforceable happens all the time.

bkcunningham's avatar

Since we are both just giving it our best guesses, I’d guess that federal officials will be able to prove it because they will track the transaction like they do the over-the-counter cold meds and other OTC meds that you have to sign for and are limited on how much you can purchase. I hate those laws.

The same is true for alcohol, drugs and tobacco now. There are stamps that prove the sale for individuals and businesses. If need be, state or federal officials can track where you bought your smokes, your prescription and your booze to make sure you paid the proper taxes.

Symbeline's avatar

@Qingu Haha yeah, had you not writ your last sentence, I so would have wanted to point that out. :D

Answer; I have no idea. While I think it should be legalized, since as far as a drug goes, it’s the most harmless one; when compared to already legal things like tobacco and alcohol…I can’t think of any real pros or cons. I mean not that aren’t either of those, I just don’t know enough to make an educated answer. Smoked a lot of weed in my teens, but somehow that doesn’t seem to be enough source for this question.

Pros would probably go to the economy, provided there are enough people out there who smoke weed to make a great difference with all the cash it would bring in. My guess is, a hell of a lot of people smoke it…

Cons; well, I say it’s a harmless drug, but it can still cause many accidents. If people were to operate heavy machinery, drive or whatever when really fuckin stoned, bad things could happen, which would suck. Of course, laws could easily be established for this. Just like alcohol, don’t smoke and drive, don’t smoke at work, that kind of thing.

Bill1939's avatar

The government will know “that I didn’t get this weed at the smoke shop” because they can (or soon will) have pot’s genetic profiles in a database identifying its origin and chemical analysis will determine specific conditions the grass grew under. However, making wine and beer and growing pot for personal use should be a right (imho).

SaveTheRhinos's avatar

I think my biggest complaint about legalizing weed is that there isn’t currently a way to measure how much is in your system. If I go drink 5 beers, they can measure it in my blood content. Currently that is not the case for weed. Whether you have smoked 4 blunts or 2 hits you cannot tell how much has been smoked. Additionally how much is too much?

dabbler's avatar

@SaveTheRhinos “isn’t currently a way to measure how much is in your system”
Agreed, that’s my only objection to legalizing weed.

bkcunningham's avatar

@dabbler, why are you concerned with being able to determine how much pot someone has smoked? Do you think there is a safe/unsafe threshold?

bostonbeliever's avatar

There are no con’s dude, it’s all good. We just light up and chill…

bostonbeliever's avatar

But actually there are very few cons to legalizing marijuana.
The only reason it’s considered a “gateway” drug is because it’s illegal so a person buying marijuana might interact with dealers who sell a few other drugs (although generally this is not the case. Maybe ecstasy, ritalin, but nothing too hard-core usually).
It has not been shown to be addictive, although I don’t know why we even worry about that, given the size of the tobacco industry.
Negative health repercussions are debated, but if there are any, it can’t be worse damage to the respiratory system than cigarettes. At least with marijuana, it’s only smoke you’re inhaling. No tar, etc.
By legalizing it, we nearly wipe out the drug dealers selling it today. If we put an age restriction on it (18), then they will still sell to minors, but the same thing happens with alcohol, which is a far more dangerous drug.
The government can tax it, just like cigarettes, and bring in some nice extra revenue.
Local hash shops will pop up-new businesses, new jobs.

gambitking's avatar

Legalizing would make for a huge boost to the economy through tax revenue. It would unclog our prisons. It would create tons of jobs. It would revitalize the crucial hemp industry. It would put every single black market pot dealer out of business. How is there a ‘con’ to this debate?

bkcunningham's avatar

When you say “huge boost” to the economy through tax revenue, how much is huge?

SaveTheRhinos's avatar

@dabbler Yeah I think it is important to know how high someone is, how high is too high, how high is too high for public? Ya know? I know the side effects are generally just lazy, sleepy, and hungry, but I think it’s important to be able to measure it. The absence of evidence, is not the evidence of absence.

Bill1939's avatar

@SaveTheRhinos asked, “Whether you have smoked 4 blunts or 2 hits you cannot tell how much has been smoked. Additionally how much is too much?” As with alcohol, it would be a question of how impaired the user is. And it will not need a technological leap to design a portable breath analyzer that can detect THC exhaled by the lungs. A few hits an hour ago would likely be ignored if detected, but the joint you flipped out the window before pulling over for the officer won’t be. Eventually some ‘scientific’ measure will produce an average threshold for THC intoxication, as it has with alcohol intoxication, for field sobriety tests.

dabbler's avatar

@bkcunningham “Do you think there is a safe/unsafe threshold?”
Well, currently no, that’s precisely the problem.
There is no good standard for measuring intoxication or impairment due to THC exposure.

Since some level can be detectable weeks after exposure, a binary found/not-found test is no good. And whatever measures we have of THC presence don’t consistently represent a level of impairment across the population.

In particular, I think it is reasonable to prohibit driving while weed-impaired, but there is no practical way to enforce that. We have blood-alcohol level tests that are pretty reasonable and we don’t have such a test for pot. I.e. ‘what level of under-the-influence constitutes impairment’—no good answer.

Bill1939's avatar

If it were legal, we would soon acquire the data needed to establish measures for THC intoxication, then laws could be written. Traffic lights were not installed before there was traffic congestion, nor seat belts before traffic fatalities.

dabbler's avatar

@Bill1939 I think it’s completely possible, too.

Let the research begin !

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