Friday, March 23, 2012

Legalization Of Marijuanna in U.S.

One of the biggest debates in the Criminal Justice field today is if smoking Marijuana or possessing small quantities of Marijuana should really be a crime. Should people be serving prison terms for something that seems so harmless? For basically my entire college career I have been very opposed to the legalization of Marijuana. However the more I read and learn about the problems the laws concerning marijuana are causing the more I think there is certainly a better way to handle marijuana offenders. One of the biggest problems these laws are in part causing is the significantly overpopulation of our prisons. Anyone in the Criminal Justice field has most likely seen the videos on the state of our prisons. Some are operating at nearly twice maximum capacity. Others have had to convert gymnasiums into make shift living quarters. In my opinion a prison is not the place for there to be twice as many people than it was built to handle. Roughly 12.5 percent of the state prison population is incarcerated due to marijuana charges. Another 12.5 percent of the federal inmate population is also incarcerated due to marijuana charges. That is a fairly significant amount in my opinion. The other huge advantage not incarcerating marijuana using Americans comes from the financial aspect of not having that 12.5 percent of offenders being paid for by our tax money.  Almost 9 billion dollars are spent annually dealing with the incarceration of people for some sort of marijuana charge. That is a huge amount of money. I think the main problem is the penalties are simply over the top and definitely do not fit the crime. In some states a person can get years in prison for single marijuana cigarette.  One thing that amazes me is how a person can go to prison for 2 or 3 years for having a marijuana cigarette but someone else can go out drink all the alcohol they want basically anywhere they want and it’s not a big deal. Especially when you look at the repercussions alcohol has on individuals and society as a whole. I guess my biggest issue is why there are such harsh punishments for people using marijuana? To me the common sense thing to do from a financial and logical stand point would be to put fines on almost all marijuana involved crimes. Obviously some people who are caught with large amounts of marijuana deserve more than a fine however. This would not only create money from gathering those fines but also save the billions a year spent on incarcerating these people. I guess you could say I fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to the great debate concerning Marijuana. I don’t think it should be decriminalized necessarily. However, the punishments for these crimes are obviously way to severe. These punishments not only do not fit the crime but they are also hurting our society by using our tax dollar to house and arrest them.


  1. Legalization of marijuana is an extremely important issue for future criminal justice professionals to address. I am with you in the fact that I was opposed to the legalizing it. However, I understand where you are coming from with potentially concerns of overbearing the criminal justice system for a debated issue. Although, the drug itself is deemed to be "okay" or "socially acceptable" the criminality associated with it is not. Likewise, the criminality associated with manufacturing, buying, and selling marijuana will not be "okay" or "socially acceptabe." There are far more problems with the legalization of marijuana; however, I still feel that it is not worth legalizing the drug for any purpose.

  2. I am going to have to agree to disagree with you Aaron, I think that the Federal Government should legalize marijuana and regulate it themselves to cut out the dealing aspect of it on the streets. Marijuana could be a huge cash crop for this country in a recession, I believe that it could generate more revenue than the war against it could in fines. I am not opposed to the legalization of it but I do believe that there should be some regulations for it as well. Such as putting an age limit on it, and treating it like alcohol. I believe that it could work, we are losing the war against marijuana and we should decriminalize based on the facts provided above that we could have 12.5% of the prison population out and we are not paying for them to sleep, eat, and exercise. This is a huge topic in Criminal Justice and has a lot of supporters on both sides you know my position and I would like to hear what more of us have to say.

    Andrew Serena