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Legalization Of Marijuana In The United States


The legalization of marijuana has become a hot button topic in the last few years. The federal government has generally left it up to the states to decide if it wants to legalize marijuana. With two states already legalizing recreational marijuana and more states putting the topic up for vote, the effects legalizing it has on a society and economy should be explored. There are plenty of organizations that are lobbying for the legalization of recreational marijuana who publish data and the benefits of legalizing marijuana. The United States government also publishes data on this issue at hand. Legalizing marijuana brings numerous questions like how will it affect the economy, how will it affect the local judicial systems and law enforcement? What benefits does legalizing marijuana have one the state economy?

The legalization of marijuana brings numerous questions to the forefront. One is how and/or will the legalization of marijuana effect the economy. Marijuana is being sold illegally now in 48 states but will regulated sales help boost the economy of a state. Another question is how the legal selling of marijuana effect the state’s financial situation. Both Colorado and Washington made recreational marijuana legal in 2012. One of the biggest arguments for the legalization of marijuana has been the revenue that it would bring to the states. In a report for CBS News titled “The Marijuana Effect”, Bill Whitaker explored the effects the legalization of marijuana has had on the state. Colorado has made an extra $51 million dollars off of a product that would have been sold regardless. Colorado has licensed more than 300 recreational “pot stores” as they have commonly been called around the state with only more to come. What that means is that the states revenue streams from marijuana sales can only be expected to grow going into the future which will only bolster the argument for legalizing marijuana.

No longer will hypothesis’s be needed to figure out how the legalization of marijuana will affect a state because Washington and Colorado and perfect case studies. The speed in which Colorado has moved in getting this new found revenue source up and running is astounding. The states constitution was amended in 2012 and the first stores were opened in January 2014. The Drug Policy Alliance, an organization that is focused on the promotion of drug policies that are grounded in “science, compassion, health and human rights” has put a report on the effects of legalizing marijuana one year after the first stores opened. There have been tons of reports on the status of the passing of legalizing marijuana in both states and offer plenty of research opportunities. Not only are pro-legalizing marijuana organizations publishing data but the states themselves are producing reports on how the states are reacting. Local and national news agencies have done reports on the subject as well.

Each state has different economies and different people. Each state brings with it different variables. The cost of marijuana in each state can vary from state to state actually and city to city within each state. The number of people smoking marijuana might vary from city to city as well as state to state. It is actually beneficiary to have two states adopt this legalization because it gives an opportunity for comparison instead of just having one case study subject. Organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance have put out reports journaling the passage of the constitutional amendment to each state. Without actually going to each state, data will have to be collected through reports by various organizations, government reports and news articles and specials on this topic because it has been very controversial since its birth. In comparison to this state, local law enforcement and politicians can be questioned to get their opinion on the subject and if they feel it will ever be passed in this state.

The purpose of this research proposal is to examine if the legalization of marijuana is beneficial or will negatively impact a state if passed. Marijuana has a negative stigma attached to it for being known as an illegal drug. Even if all fifty states legalize marijuana there will still be some stigma to openly saying “I smoke marijuana.” The potential rewards for a state to legalize marijuana might be too tempting to pass though. With almost each state being in dire financial straits the financial rewards might outweigh any stigma. The idea of legalizing marijuana has always been founded in the financial coup that the states would receive. This research proposal would like to further explore if that hypothesis is true. In Colorado and Washington there is actually hard data to examine and see how the legalization of marijuana has actually affected societies within the state and the state as a whole.

The Drug Policy Alliance is a good referral source, a Washington Post article, an article from Forbes and a special report from CBS News have all been referenced in this proposal. The first stage of research will be reviewing what has already been documented on the legalization of marijuana and how it has been enacted already. Another research method can/will be to go to Colorado and Washington to investigate how licensed marijuana retailers are doing financially, how the local governments are responding to the legalization of marijuana and how the citizens are reacting to the legalization of marijuana. Luckily researching this does not involve much equipment other than a notebook, a pen, a laptop and a digital recorder. The only expenses will be for traveling to Colorado and Washington which would roughly run about $3500 for each trip.

For a country that is in one of its worst economic slumps in history, the financial boon that legalizing marijuana would bring to the country is too hard to ignore. In a way, it is money that is going to get spent on the same product regardless so why not legalize it and help the country out at the same time. Washington and Colorado have proven that a lot of fears about the legalization of marijuana are just that, fears, which have not come to fruition.

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