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Should marijuana be legalized? Although there continues to be much debate around this subject, there is an unusual amount of contradicting research. Here is a sample argumentative essay containing arguments for and against legalization of marijuana.

Marijuana Legalization Essay Sample


Decriminalization of marijuana has been the subject of controversial discussions among public health and criminal justice professionals. The result of these debates is a growing body of research evidence that supports as well as opposes the legalization of the drug whether for recreational or medicinal purposes. In addition to disproving and advocating the medical value of the drug, researchers have also examined the issues arising from the legalization of the drug among selected states in the US. In recent years, a number of states in the US have enacted laws that legalize marijuana for medical and therapeutic purposes, prompting a renewed public and political interest on its decriminalization on a variety of outcomes. This paper examines founded evidence of the positive impact of legalizing marijuana in all states in America.

The first argument supporting the decriminalization of marijuana is the fact that even though marijuana has a mind altering effect, its consumption is less hazardous than the consumption of other legal substances such as alcohol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimates that the annual deaths in the US caused by alcohol is approximately 37000. On the other hand the agency does not have any figures of any specific deaths directly resulting from marijuana usage.  It is however established that while alcohol is among the leading toxic drug marijuana is among the least toxic substance (Caulkins, Lee and Kasunic 23).  Moreover, marijuana use has been noted to positively result into a reduction of heavy alcohol consumption, traffic deaths, and substance abuse particularly among the youth, thus, generating positive public health benefits.

The second argument in support of the decriminalization of marijuana, according to is that marijuana illegalization acts as a trap for young adults, imprisoning them in a defective system, ultimately transforming them into lifetime offenders. According to Barry, Hililamo and Glantz, many young people engage in marijuana trade as a source of income in order to pursue dreams such as going to college and eliminate poverty from their lives (pp. 212). Clearly, they do not indulge in such activities willingly; rather they are forced by circumstances in their lives. Therefore, criminalizing marijuana not only contributes to the unemployment problems but also adds to the problem of youth offenders and recidivism. Notably, the incarceration of youths as a result of marijuana related offenses ensures that they become lifetime offenders, whereby once they are released from prison they resume the activities due to school disruption and a felony record that bars them from accessing employment (Caulkins , Lee and Kasunic 4-34).

The third argument for the decriminalization of marijuana is medicinal purposes. Marijuana should be legalized because it has numerous health benefits when used as a prescription. Precisely, recent research has concluded that marijuana contains THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) – an active compound which has significant analgesic effects especially among cancer patients. Kleber and DuPont enumerate some of the medical uses for marijuana including pain management particularly neuropathic pain and rheumatoid arthritis; relief for nausea linked to cancer chemotherapy, relief for AIDS or cancer related cachexia and relief for spasticity associated with neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis (Kleber and DuPont 570).

Proponents of marijuana legalization often state that making the drug legal will reduce illegal consumption and trade in the drug. However, anti-marijuana legalization groups refute this claim using the gambling analogy. Research has shown the decision to make the government as a beneficiary of gambling ensures that the government promoted gambling but at the same time subverted the government’s attention to the fact that gambling is a problem behavior. Moreover, the legalization of gambling has not in any way reduced illegal gambling in America; instead it has increased it. By the same token, legalizing marijuana would pave way for increased illegal marijuana trafficking, and by extension, other illegal substances (Kleber and Dupont 564-568). From the gambling precedent, it is clear that illegal drug traffickers would thrive by dealing in more potent marijuana products, avoiding the legal channels of distribution that are taxed and subject to certain restrictions. Besides, already, marijuana has an established black market network through which it is distributed which will in turn limit the amount of tax that the government can ascribe to marijuana and its related products (Caulkins, Lee and Kasunic 4-34). As such, when marijuana bought from legalized dealers is overtaxed, user will almost automatically fall back on the black market to source the product.

Another counterargument is that legalization of marijuana has also negative social and developmental costs, whereby it is expected that a large portion of new marijuana users will not be limited to adults as evidenced by the inability of alcohol and tobacco regulations to deter consumption among youth (Lynne-Landsman, Livingston and Wagenaar 1505). Making marijuana use legal may open a new channel for drug misuse especially with more youths replacing alcohol abuse for marijuana. Besides, legalization of recreational marijuana is likely to argument the problem including; heavier drinking, increased cases of driving while intoxicated and an increase in the use of marijuana (Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute).


The current discussion centered on the issue of whether legalization of marijuana is justifiable. In deed from the evidence presented, marijuana offers numerous benefits both recreationally and as a medical intervention. Notably, the consumption of marijuana is not different from other mind-altering substances like alcohol; and in fact, it appears to be much safer than these other substances. For medicinal purposes, marijuana has important benefits for users and its criminalization is an obstacle to patients who may benefit from the drug. However, numerous negative impacts were identified which make the decision to legalize marijuana complex.

Works Cited

Mark Anderson, D., Benjamin Hansen, and Daniel I. Rees. “Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, And Alcohol Consumption.” The Journal of Law and Economics 56.2 (2013): 333-369. Web.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute. “Learn about marijuana:science-based information for the public 2012.” 2012. 03 December 2015 <>.

Barry, Rachel Ann, Heikki Hiilamo, and Stanton A. Glantz. “Waiting For The Opportune Moment: The Tobacco Industry And Marijuana Legalization.” Milbank Quarterly 92.2 (2014): 207-242. Web.

Caulkins, Jonathan P., Michael A. C. Lee, and Anna M. Kasunic. “Marijuana Legalization: Lessons From The 2012 State Proposals.” World Medical & Health Policy 4.3-4 (2012): 4-34. Web.

Kleber, Herbert D., and Robert L. Dupont. “Physicians And Medical Marijuana.” American Journal of Psychiatry 169.6 (2012): 564-568. Web.

Lynne-Landsman, Sarah D., Melvin D. Livingston, and Alexander C. Wagenaar. “Effects Of State Medical Marijuana Laws On Adolescent Marijuana Use.” American Journal of Public Health 103.8 (2013): 1500-1506. Web.

White, Helene Raskin and David L. Rabiner. College Drinking and Drug Use. New York: Guilford Press, 2011.

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