The fierce debate on the impact of legalizing medical and recreational marijuana has been going on for quite some time. The proponents of the legalization process argue that removing the prohibition on the drug will bring several benefits to the society that include; reduction in traffic fatalities, increased revenue via tax, and channeling state resources to fight serious crimes. In contrast, the opponents of the debate argue that lifting the ban on marijuana use has severe consequences such as increased use of the drug amongst the youth, many cases of accidents by the users, and expensive cost of treatment for addicts whose mental and physical health have been affected. However, with the current trend by the public to vote for laws that legalize marijuana, there is a possibility that the criminalization of the drug may be reversed.
Colorado has been the leading State in the open discussion and formulation of policies and laws that favor the lifting of the criminalization of the drug. The citizens of this State voted for a Constitutional Amendment in November 2012 to legalize the recreational use of marijuana (Monte, Zane and Heard 241). The new law allowed people to cultivate, manufacture, and sell marijuana to individuals above the age of 21 (Monte, Zane and Heard 241). Voters in Washington followed the trend by voting for a similar amendment to the Constitution to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The other States that have formulated laws that authorize the use of marijuana for medical and entertainment purposes include California, Nevada, and Massachusetts.
Information from the States that have legalized the use of recreational and medical marijuana indicates that the adverse effects of the policies outweigh the benefits (Ingold). In Colorado, for example, marijuana use by minors had increased by 20% between 2014 and 2015 (Monte, Zane and Heard 242). The government also verified that there was an increase in the number of hospital emergency visits and admissions that are related to Marijuana by 49% during the same period (Monte, Zane and Heard 242). This trend is caused by the laws that are ineffective and do not educate the public about the limits of the amendments and the consequences of misusing the drug (Aggarwal, Carter and Sullivan 157). Therefore, people are consuming marijuana in quantities that affect their health instead of using it for the recommended medical or recreation use.
If more or all the States adopt laws that allow the public to consume marijuana for health and entertainment purposes, the country will face many economic and social challenges. There are high chances that the education and morals of the U.S youth will be affected by the continued use of the drug. The country will also record the highest number of road accident fatalities because of impaired driving by adults who use marijuana. The emergency services at the hospitals will be exhausted by the rising cases of emergency admissions by victims of marijuana overdose and mental damage. Therefore, if the federal authorities legalize the use of this drug the public will misuse the privilege and the country will be negatively affected by high cases of road accidents and drug abuse by minors.
Legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana is a sensitive issue that has both negative and positive consequences. The people should receive proper education on the social and economic implications of the drug before they make the important decisions. The medical use of the drug is significant, and the government should formulate laws that ensure it is not misused. However, the entertainment utilization of marijuana does not benefit the society because its disadvantages outweigh the benefits.