On the 31st of July 2013, the Uruguayan House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize and regulate cannabis production, sale and consumption, bill that was enacted by the President José Mujica. Hence, it became the first country in the world to have such a measure.
Since then, several United States’ States have also pursued this course, and it is undeniable that the question of legalizing marijuana is one of the hot topics in Western countries. Countries such as The Netherlands or Bangladesh were already known for their permissive laws regarding cannabis, and other States allow its use for medical purposes.
Drug wars – specially in Latin America – are certainly a worldwide problem and unregulated consumption of drugs as well.
Cannabis has been used throughout the centuries, from a spiritual use (particularly in India) to strictly recreational purposes. With the International Opium Convention of 1925 (the first international treaty that deals with drug control), “Indian hemp”, which is another word for cannabis or marijuana, was banned from exportation to certain countries, while in those which continued to import it, there was an obligation to use it exclusively for medical or scientific purposes.
With a growing awareness of the damages caused by drugs, international regulation became increasingly stricter towards the use and sale of cannabis, nowadays being illegal to pass it from one country to another, since the majority of the world maintains repressive legislations.
What arguments can be brought forward for and against marijuana legalization?
One must keep in mind that cannabis is a drug and that it causes psychoactive effects. Current research shows that it even causes brain damages in young adult’s brains. Nevertheless, many claim that it is the most innocent of drugs, since compared to other hard drugs, it causes little dependency and very few physical damages.
But then again, aren’t there other drugs, known for causing much more deaths, such as tobacco and alcohol, that are completely legal in most countries in the world? It is undeniable that if legalized, cannabis surely needs high regulation.
The legalization and regulation of cannabis could help significantly reduce illegal trade, the black market and drug-related crime. Furthermore, if legalized, it would be possible to apply taxes to cannabis consumption, which would definitely represent a big increase in State’s revenues. According to the press, in a State such as California, in the United States, cannabis represents sales of approximately $15 billion per year. In taxes, that would mean that at least $1.3 billion could be raised every year. Could you imagine how this money could be used in a good way, such as scientific research? In Colorado, the tax of 15% on wholesale marijuana has brought 40% more in taxes than initially predicted, and its legal sale is apparently causing quite a success.