Trevor Brookins

*There are numerous reasons why marijuana should be legal throughout the United States.

The fact that it has never been proven to be habit forming. The fact that more addictive substances (nicotine) are legal. The fact that it was criminalized because of its reputation as a drug for African-Americans during a time in American history when racial bias prevalent.

So add another reason to the list: it is practically legal in multiple states already.

A recent article in Time magazine detailed the status of marijuana in Colorado but also mapped out the stringency of prosecution and medicinal usage of the drug across the country. Those who want to get high have always been able to find their method of intoxication. The difference in this case is that states now are actively looking the other way.

In states where marijuana has been approved for medicinal purposes one needs only a doctor’s note. In theory doctor’s notes are given after thorough examinations and with careful consideration. In practice, doctor’s notes are often given because of personal relationships, monetary considerations, and simply for convenience. The bottom line is that those who want marijuana have an easy legal method of obtaining it.

Any state that would allow its population to enjoy marijuana with little gate keeping as in Colorado, or with little potential legal ramifications as in New York, should go the final step and pronounce marijuana legal and begin to tax it. In the current era of financial hardship when municipal governments are cutting social services from their annual budgets, tax revenues from marijuana would provide a necessary income stream for cash strapped states.

Furthermore in all of the states in which marijuana is illegal but not villainized, there have been no reports of marijuana users becoming the bane of society. That is to say the widespread marijuana usage is being proven to be inconsequential.

Should everyone be able to use marijuana? No. Just as airline pilots have stricter restrictions put on their alcohol intake, certain professions could and should have special limitations on their marijuana usage. But those restrictions should be made by individual industries, not by the state.

Is marijuana harmless? No. Prolonged use of any concentrated substance will have an effect on one’s health. But the medical community is undecided on how harmful the marijuana is and even the harshest critics would agree that marijuana is not as dangerous as alcohol – not to mention cocaine or heroin. Damage to one’s health has not stopped the state from allowing cigarettes to be sold; ergo marijuana should also be legal.

The United States should end the criminalization of marijuana and begin the taxing of marijuana. Everyone will be happier, either because they are high or because their personal taxes were decreased. It’s a win-win situation.

Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War.  You can reach him at [email protected]