“The legalization of marijuana is not a dangerous experiment – the prohibition is the experiment, and it has failed dramatically, with millions of victims all around the world.” ― Sebastian Marincolo (2010). In Canada, marijuana is fully legalized, both recreationally and medicinally. However, it is only decriminalized (meaning, the criminal penalties have been lessened, but not eliminated) in Jamaica, while it is neither legalised nor decriminalised in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. According to the Oxford Dictionary, legalization is defined as the action of making something that was previously illegal permissible by law, while eventually is defined as an undetermined time in the future. The legalization of marijuana will not eventually result in more harm than good because ultimately, it will reduce the number of marijuana-related crimes and offences, and if legalized and managed by the government, it will eventually create more jobs, thus boosting the economy and lowering the rate of unemployment.
Legalizing marijuana will eventually cause a reduction in marijuana-related crimes, because all legal prohibitions against it will have been removed. According to the Dangerous Drugs Amendment Act (2015), it remains a criminal offence in Jamaica to possess over 2 ounces of marijuana, and offenders may be arrested, charged, tried in court. If found guilty, these offenders can be sentenced to pay a fine, be imprisoned or both. The conviction will also be recorded on that person’s criminal record. Therefore, if marijuana is legalized, this act will be abolished and persons will no longer be subjected to any penalties if found in possession of any amount of marijuana. Logically, legalization would end the need for illegal selling and buying of marijuana, which will therefore cause a reduction in criminal activities (White, 2019). According to Bunting (2016), fourteen thousand fewer persons were arrested on marijuana charges since it was decriminalized in 2014. Therefore, if marijuana is legalized, this number would not only decrease, but become non-existent. This is because no citizen of Jamaica would be arrested since all the legal consequences would have been lifted.
Following the legalization of marijuana, more jobs and economic opportunities will eventually be created in the formal economy instead of the illicit market. According to Stephanie K. (2016), the economic opportunity presented by marijuana could bring positive results to Jamaica, a country with one of the lowest rates of economic growth among developing nations. If legalised, the marijuana industry would represent the most formidable response to the devastating effects of low economic growth and low productivity being experienced in Jamaica (Levy, 2017). If properly managed, production and sales of marijuana by the government, rather than by criminals, will save lives, create jobs and generate money which can be used for social programs, education, and healthcare (Hartney, 2019).
On the contrary, some may contend that fully legalizing marijuana use will eventually make it too accessible and, as a result, increase its use and misuse. The argument is that with the legalization of marijuana, the number of locations selling marijuana will increase and as a result, the number of persons buying marijuana will increase. With the increase in the number of persons purchasing marijuana, it is feared that it will stop being just a tool and will become a physical or psychological need that will alter the user’s behaviour and personality. Also, it is said by some that if marijuana becomes readily available, its use will increase and it will therefore result in persons becoming addicted to and/or dependent on the drug.
The idea that marijuana will eventually be used, misused and become more harmful if legalized is irrational and unfeasible. Marijuana doesn’t ‘change your mind’ or ‘alter your thinking’. Instead, it pulls the user out of their usual thought patterns long enough to make them seriously contemplate other ideas and concepts and give them an honest assessment. Therefore, it cannot be said that marijuana negatively affects someone psychologically and physically because cannabinoids, which is an active ingredient in marijuana, affects the levels of dopamine in our brain like alcohol, caffeine, and sugar, which often results in a sense of relaxation and euphoria. Also, the fear that marijuana will become addictive and make a person dependent is naive. According to CNN Medical (2013), marijuana is far less, if not, the least addictive drug when compared to other drugs, for example, heroin, cocaine and alcohol. The vast majority of marijuana smokers do not develop an addiction, as they do not lose control of its use. They generally use the amount they want to use and when they want to use it, hence, addiction is a very unlikely outcome.
Despite the idea by some that marijuana will eventually lead to more harm than good, the fact of the matter is that it is more helpful than harmful. The number of marijuana related crimes would not only decrease but would be eliminated, and more jobs will eventually be created which will in turn boost the economy and lower the rate of unemployment. Persons should realize that in the long run, marijuana will be more helpful than harmful and it will yield positive results for not only the country, but its citizens as well. Don’t you agree?