"Opposing Viewpoints On Legalization Of Marijuana". Anti Essays. 12 May. 2014
The past three decades have witnessed a stormy and controversial debate about the possible merits to society that might be brought about by decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana. Beginning in 1973 with Oregon, 12 states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon) have in some manner altered their existing laws to reduce the penalties for marijuana possession.1 A number of local cities have also modified their local ordinances and criminal justice practices to decriminalize pot (Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco, California; Breckenridge, Colorado; Amherst, Massachusetts; Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Urbana and Carbondale, Illinois; and Colombia, Missouri; among others).
There are three central arguments supportive of the decriminalization movement which have been advanced in these and other jurisdictions. Perhaps the most powerful and appealing argument for marijuana decriminalization (and/or decriminalizing other drugs) is that it would save a huge amount of government money now being spent on the enforcement of such laws. The basic tenets of the cost saving argument can be summarized as follows:
1. The criminal justice system, ranging from police to corrections, now allocates a significant portion of its budgets arresting, prosecuting, sentencing and incarcerating marijuana users, dealers and others involved in the illegal drug infrastructure (e.g., transporters, manufacturers of drug paraphernalia, etc.).
2. If these behaviors would no longer be labeled as criminal, criminal justice agencies would reduce the enforcement and processing tasks now associated with such crimes.
3. There is a direct relationship between the proportion of arrests or cases processed for marijuana crimes by the criminal justice system and the amount of money expended by these same agencies.