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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Marijuana Decriminalization - 1381 words
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The Canadian government has created many laws with the intention of ameliorating the quality of life of its citizens. Unfortunately, in some instances these laws and policies become public nuisances that do more harm than good. This has become the case with the federal government's decision to criminalize marijuana under the Narcotics Act. This legislation was created by bureaucrats without fully weighing its advantages and disadvantages in an attempt to protect Canadian citizens from the effects of marijuana, which include a loss of coordination and temporary memory loss. As a result of passing this law the Canadian justice system is clogged with marijuana offenders whose lives are being ruined at great expense to taxpayers, and the government and industry have missed the opportunity to capitalize on marijuana and hemp. Also, this law has impeded the Canadian public's right to use marijuana to alleviate suffering and to treat illness, and it has subjected Canadians citizens to an element of organized crime.
Initially, before marijuana criminalization, Canadians had no major social issues relating to marijuana that required government intervention. Canadians did use marijuana to achieve a "high", but then again people have always used alcohol and cigarettes as a vice in this manner. The difference being that the government had knowledge of the effects of alcohol and tobacco and had measures in place to control these substances. In the case of marijuana, the government did not have the knowledge or the means to attempt a legalized regulation of this product. Rather than controlling the sale and use of marijuana, the Canadian government made marijuana illegal with the intention of protecting its citizens from marijuana's effects, of which little was known at the time
Over time marijuana has also been associated with the use of harder drugs and the development of lung cancer, but then again so has the use of alcohol and tobacco. To this day the ban against marijuana has compounded existing problems and it has created new ones in its wake. Presently, one of the most pressing issues that has arisen from the criminalization of marijuana is the backlog seen in Canadian courts resulting from the persecution of marijuana offenders. In 1997, nearly 50, 000 Canadians were charged with marijuana offences, up 34% since 1991 (Rebick A19). Consequently, this ever-increasing number of marijuana offenders has overwhelmed the justice system. The sheer number of marijuana related court cases has hampered the ability of the Canadian legal system to arrest and to prosecute more serious offenders, as $1 billion in police resources are wasted annually catching marijuana offenders and the courts struggle to process all of these arrests.
Young males make up the majority of the offenders, with 86% being under the age of 25 and with 90% being male (Rebick A19). Even more alarming is the fact that 67% of the arrests made were for simple possession of marijuana, meaning that these people were just recreational users, not traffickers. This law banning marijuana has unsuccessfully attempted to stop marijuana use, albeit it has successfully managed to ruin the lives of a large number of young Canadian males. Some of these young men attend high school and university, and some of have jobs, pay taxes and contribute to the economy. According to Carey, the criminalization of marijuana has unfairly given 600, 000 Canadians with bright futures a permanent stigma by shackling them with criminal records (A1). Banning marijuana in Canada has wasted the time of the police and the courts and in doing so has also wasted the lives of valuable Canadian citizens.
In addition to wasting valuable taxpayer money, the criminalization of marijuana has prevented the government and industry from experiencing an economic windfall. In Canada alone, about 50, 000 people are charged with marijuana offences each year, and this only represents a fraction of the total number of users and growers. Walkom says that the RCMP estimates that nearly 3 million Canadians use marijuana at least once a year and also indicates that the RCMP has placed the value of British Columbia's annual marijuana production at about $2 billion. Walkom also states that, "..this would make pot (marijuana) as economically important to B.C. as logging and roughly twice as important as the paper and pulp industry" (A1).
Because the Canadian government has included marijuana in the Narcotics Act, it has missed the opportunity to levy a marijuana-tax similar to the tax on alcohol and cigarettes. Such a tax could substantially bolster the revenue of the cash-strapped government. As it stands today, the law against marijuana has placed an economic burden on Canada and has forced this marijuana-tax cash-cow to remain dormant. Another economic issue related to marijuana criminalization is the controversy over hemp and hemp products. Hemp is the non-psychoactive relative of marijuana that has been used in over 400 commercial products including oils, soaps, rope, paper, clothing, fuels, plastics, textiles, paint and ink just to name a few (Jenkins).
Also, a hemp plant can be cultivated in six weeks, making it a quickly renewable resource. Previously, growing hemp in Canada was forbidden by law, but recently the cultivation of hemp has been legalized. As a result, Canadian hemp farmers must now play catch-up to profit from this multi-billion dollar crop as many other countries have already been producing hemp for many years. The criminalization of marijuana has thus impaired the production of this economically viable and easily replaceable resource. Shifting away from economic aspects of marijuana criminalization, the loss to the medical society must be considered.
Marijuana's active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has been clinically shown to inhibit pain receptors and to increase appetite (Green A1). These two physiological effects of THC are responsible for prolonging the lives and easing the suffering of many chronically and terminally ill patients, including those who suffer from cancer and AIDS. For example, Onstand reports that 78% of cancer patients tested said that smoking marijuana reduced nausea (164). Studies have also shown that marijuana can be used to treat glaucoma by relieving pressure build-up behind the eye. The law governing marijuana criminalization has made the medical benefits of marijuana illegal and unaccessible to the thousands of suffering Canadian patients who need it. On a social level, marijuana criminalization in Canada has helped create and finance organized crime syndicates that commit more serious offences.
Walkom quoted an RCMP spokesperson who said that, "Each order (of marijuana) might be 50 to 200 pounds a week. To move that amount you need an organization." (A1). The RCMP goes on to state that approximately 70% of marijuana trafficking in Canada is controlled by the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang. The Hell's Angels are notorious for trafficking other harder, more addictive drugs, for prostitution and for committing other felony crimes such as murder. Thus, this ban has helped to expose the Canadians who use marijuana to harder drugs, as a typical drug dealer will push other drugs on his clients in addition to marijuana. Therefore the Hell's Angels' illicit sale of marijuana is partly responsible for the financing of other criminal activity and has undoubtedly resulted in several marijuana-related murders. Therefore, by making marijuana illegal in Canada, the government intended to shield Canadians from its misconceived effects.
On the contrary, this anti-marijuana legislation has had a negative impact on Canada. It has overwhelmed the judicial system, it has hindered the Canadian economy from profiting from one of its most valuable yet underground crops, it has prevented the use of marijuana for medical reasons and it has exposed Canadians to an avoidable element of organized crime. After close scrutiny of the evidence, it is clear that the Canadian government did not have the best interests of its citizens in mind when creating this law, but rather it acted upon fear when it prohibited marijuana. This legislation is a clear-cut example of the way fear and apprehension can compound problems, and the government must re-evaluate the facts on marijuana to clear the smoke that shrouds this important issue. Works CitedCarey, Elaine. "Pot Charges on the Rise." Toronto Star 3 March 1999: A1Green, Sarah. "Marijuana Truth/ Many Docs Oppose 'Cheech and Chong' MedicineBut Clinical Trials Being Planned." Ottawa Sun 26 December 1999: A1Jenkins, Phil. "Field of Opportunity." Canadian Geographic March 1999Onstand, Katrina.
"Smoking Marijuana Relieves Pain." Chatelaine November 1997:163-166Rebick, Judy. "Smoking Pot Shouldn't Be a Crime/ It's Time to DecriminalizeMarijuana." London Free Press April 1999: A19Walkom, Thomas. "BC's Grass is Really Greener." Toronto Star 27 June 1998: A1.
Research paper and essay writing, free essay topics, sample works Marijuana Decriminalization
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