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One of the most extensive debates in the last decade is the topic of marijuana. The discussion has been about whether it should be legalized or not. However, many countries have legalized the drug after extensive research owing to its potential economic and social effects that might accrue if done in a well-controlled environment. One of the countries that have been at the forefront of this debate is the US. Colorado has been one of the many states in the US that have legalized the US of recreational marijuana. However, medicinal marijuana has been used in the health industry for quite a while now. The legalization of marijuana has had some economic and social impacts on the public. According to Light et al., the state of Colorado witnesses a total of $996 Million in terms of sales, a total of $ 2.39 Billion in terms of economic benefits and an overwhelming 18,005 jobs in terms of economic impact in the year 2015 alone (1). That is a lot of revenue generated by a single state. Perhaps that is why many of the states have been considering legalization of marijuana in other states as well.
Socially, the legalization of marijuana has reduced the criminal charge among marijuana defendants, thereby saving on fines, legal fees, missed days of work as well as asset seizures for those that are convicted for their usage of marijuana. Consequently, it has help the disadvantaged communities in the state by mending the broken homes and increased social mobility in the state (Evans, 7). Significantly, crime rates that were as a result of the use of marijuana have reduced close to zero percent in Colorado. A more positive attribute is that the legalization of marijuana has significantly reduced the use of other hard drugs in the state, such as opioids, which are more harmful and can easily cause death.
Upon the legalization of marijuana, there came a myriad of challenges in the criminal justice system in the state of Colorado, among other states that needed to be amicably addressed. The law enforcement policies have not been quite effective so far. There have been many cases of drug driving, which was a significant risk to the people of Colorado. There was a need to enforce laws that catered for drugged driving; otherwise, there would be many cases of accidents reported daily. Additionally, there was an increase in criminal activities among the sellers of marijuana as the sellers try to outdo each other through the creation of drug turf.
The state of Colorado has immensely benefited from the legalization of marijuana. In the year 2014, the state’s economy only grew by 3.5%. However, the sales grew by 42.4%, thereby surpassing the other entire sectors in Colorado (Light et al., 6). In the form of taxes, the revenue collected from the sale of marijuana was the second largest behind tobacco in the year 2015. The revenue in terms of taxes was $63.4 million in the year 2015, and in the year 2015, it was $121 million (Light et al., 10). Therefore, the marijuana business in Colorado seems to be booming, and there is a possible increase in the number of marijuana establishments in the near future.
The legalization of marijuana has also not come without its share of problems. For instance, there was an increase in the use of cannabis, especially on the minors in the state of Colorado. Additionally, there have been attempts by wealthy individuals to take over the business from the locals, which has been faced with a lot of resistance that has resulted in violence. Drugged driving has also been on the rise among the people of Colorado, which poses a significant threat as testing of marijuana is not that easy based on the fact that marijuana traces in the blood can stay in the bloodstream for several days.
Some of the unintended consequences that have been associated with the legalization of weed include over usage of pesticides that are not even intended for marijuana. There has been a lack of pesticides that have been dedicated to marijuana specifically making the producers to improvise. Additionally, there were concerns among other established crop growers due to an increase in pests due to the proximity of marijuana crops (HAUN).
The benefits that have been witnessed in states such as Colorado cannot be overlooked. There is a dire need to look at the law enforcement mechanism so as to cater to some of the problems that have been witnessed after the legalization of marijuana. Colorado should collaborate with the scientific community to come up with testing devices that can effectively measure intoxication levels of marijuana to cab the drugged driving menace. The scientist should also come up with the rightful pesticides to cater to the pesticide issue that is not only posing a challenge to marijuana producers but also neighboring crop growers.
Marijuana should be legalized all over the US. Cannabis has been abused by millions of US citizens for very many years now. The best approach towards fighting such issues is to legalize the substance but implement policies that will improve and limit the use of marijuana. Additionally, they also get to benefit from it economically.
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