Widespread marijuana production and use, and lately, the calls for its legalization have created a stir in recent years. As such, there are a lot of things we need to know in order to understand this issue. What is the current state of marijuana domestic production? Who are the players in the legalization issue and what are its implications? This paper posits that legalization is being pushed primarily by business wanting a share of the market which is currently dominated by illegal organizations and users who wish to ease the moral and legal restrictions on its use.
As such legalization will increase domestic marijuana production. Overview of the Domestic Marijuana Production Current Domestic Marijuana Availability Canabis has earned its status as the most valuable cash crop today. In 2006 alone, the current gross value of the estimated 68. 1 million marijuana plants in the U. S. stood at $35. 8 billion, far exceeding the value of legal, essential crops such as wheat. Outdoor marijuana made up 82. 8% of total production with a corresponding value of $31. 7 billion. Indoor marijuana accounted for 5. 2% pegged at $4. 1 billion (Gettman, 2006).
Weed is typically for local consumption but its export is also viable. The annual supply of domestically produced weed is estimated between 8. 7-21. 8 million kilograms, a manifold increase since the 80’s (Gettman, 2006). Marijuana growing has been found everywhere. However, Alabama, California, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia rank as the top ten producers (Gettman, 2006), despite intensive eradication operations by the DEA. Large-scale production outdoors is easy and inexpensive with minimal plant care.
Radical improvements in quality or potency have been achieved with advancements in technology such as the hydroponic system. As such, potency rates (measured in total plant THC content, the main mind-altering component) can now reach as high as 8. 77% from the 1. 5% average in the ‘70s (NDTA 2008). Local marijuana is expensive compared to other countries. According to one site, the average price for a quarter ounce of weed is $40 for low quality, $50 for medium quality and $80 for high quality and has remained steady for the past years (e-stoned.
com). This proves that there is an established consumer base, proof that it is a very lucrative business and tax free too! Current Domestic Marijuana Consumption Among all the available illegal drugs, it is the most commonly used with consumers from all ages, genders, race and economic status (DEA website). However, use is most common among young people with its treatment as a recreational drug. There is no current government data on the actual number of marijuana users but the results of latest DHHS drug use survey show that there were 2.
1 million Americans, mostly minors, who used marijuana for the first time in 2006, a figure that has not changed dramatically since 2002 (NSDUH 2006). An estimate by one group using the current estimated supply and average consumption/user puts the number of American marijuana users at 15 million (NORML. com). This corresponds to 5% of the total population. The Global Youth Network also ranks the U. S. as one of the top 6 marijuana using countries in the world. Who Controls the Domestic Marijuana Production and Distribution?
DEA 2008 reports show the involvement of drug trade organizations from Cuba and Asia in marijuana trafficking all over the country and they are now into indoor marijuana production as well, with expansions targeting the northern states. Mexican DTO’s, on the other hand are targeting outdoor marijuana production in the eastern states and marijuana smuggling in the border areas. Although there are freelance dealers who operate small-scale, widely commercial grade marijuana cultivation and sale, the wider, more systematic production and distribution targeting densely populated areas is controlled by drug-trade organizations.
In addition, there is also a proliferation of internet pharmacies that offer marijuana (Scott hearing on the DEA’s Regulation of Medicine). Medical or Research Grade Marijuana Legal high potency Cannabis is used for FDA-approved studies or as prescription medicine. Medical marijuana is now legal in 13 states, permitting doctors to prescribe high-potency marijuana to increase the appetite of patients suffering from AIDS, alleviate pain or decrease the pressure in the eyes of glaucoma patients among others. Research grade marijuana cultivation is currently exclusive to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Medical marijuana is produced only after acquisition of a license. In the case of California, which was the first state to legalize, patients/care providers are allowed possession of 6-12 plants or a maximum 8 ounces of dried marijuana (SB 420). Further, possession in excess of this is permissible if prescribed by a doctor. Counties and municipalities can also impose local ordinances that allow possession/cultivation beyond the limits set by state law. Further, the joint efforts at marijuana cultivation by patients/caregivers as well as marijuana dispensaries are also allowed (SB 420).
The Legalization of Marijuana In 2001, the U. S. Supreme Court voted unanimously not to allow the use of medical marijuana and the drug remains in the DEA Schedule 1 (DrugFreeAmerica. com). However, states can adopt state-wide laws with regards to Canabis. Of the 13 states that legalized medical marijuana, 6 of them have further adopted decriminalization. There are 6 other states that decriminalized but did not legalize marijuana. Fourteen qualify “drug use in driving” as a criminal offense while 20 states issue marijuana tax stamps (NORML. com).
Legalization efforts range from lobbying for the legal cultivation and use of marijuana for medical and research purposes to its commercial production and distribution alongside other substances like alcohol or tobacco. Subsequently, decriminalization aims to apply the individual freedom of choice and eliminate the penalties for marijuana-related offenses. Lobby work for federal legalization has resulted in H. R. 2592, initiatives and referendum polls in the various states. The Arguments for Legalization and Counterviews The primary arguments for legalization are 1. marijuana has medicinal properties, 2.
marijuana will bring in more revenue and save taxes on the federal marijuana eradication drives, 3. marijuana is relatively harmless and 4. legalization will actually decrease marijuana use. That it does have medicinal properties for specific ailments is already proven by initial research and actual practice. That marijuana will contribute to state revenue along with cigarettes is also not debatable. An economist calculated that the state of California can put up $1 billion from taxing a joint for $1, up to $400 million retail sales taxes and save $156 million from law enforcement (CANORML.
com). That the federal government has been largely unsuccessful in its well-funded marijuana eradication drives also holds true as indicated in various news reports. That marijuana legalization will actually decrease its use will depend on a lot of factors. It might lessen the number of first time users if we reason that alcohol consumption was at its peak when it was illegal. However, habitual users will continue to be a steady market. Finally, that marijuana is a safer alternative to harder drugs, alcohol or even coffee is relative.
Federal government agencies and anti-legalization groups also argue that there are alternative drugs for the same that cause no “highs”. They also present the immediate and cumulative ill-effects of marijuana while the more liberal call for more extensive research on it for commercial, federally approved medical use. For people who put premium on their health, using marijuana or any other addictive substance for that matter might not be acceptable. The government’s main reasons for not budging on the issue besides citing the health effects of its use include the membership of the U.
S. in international treaties banning marijuana (Scott hearing on DEA’s Regulation of Medicine). Some Proponents of Marijuana Legalization There are 2 prominent groups campaigning for legalization. The Marijuana Policy Project is the advocacy arm of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS. org), the first pharmaceutical company aiming to break NIDA’s monopoly over research grade marijuana by funding the construction of a medical marijuana production facility in the University of Massachusetts.
This is the first step in a 5-year marijuana drug development study worth $5 million (MAPS. org). The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a non-profit public-interest advocacy group representing the interests of millions of responsible American marijuana smokers, started its advocacy way back in 1970. Working with the NORML Foundation, it currently has community/school chapters in 45 states and in 7 other countries. Active in lobby work and media campaign, it also provides legal assistance to people charged with marijuana offenses.
It favors the Democrat campaign as it hopes to have a more favorable response to pro-legalization from Congress. Conclusion Marijuana’s promising medicinal values is a minefield for pharmaceutical companies which would explain their financial involvement in and all-out support for the pro-legalization advocacy. The equally promising possibility of being granted the right to choose to use marijuana without fear of being punished legally and morally anywhere in the country is motivation enough, given the vast number of users. Politicians will also be happy with more taxes and guaranteed votes.
Legalization, especially at the federal level, will affect production by stimulating legal private enterprises involved in medical/research grade as well as commercial marijuana production. Canabis will become another profit commodity which does not need much effort in marketing with the intensive campaigning by pro-legalization groups that target recreational users and patients as well. However, the effect of legalization on illegal production remains to be speculated but it will surely lose a portion of the occasional users market to legal marijuana producers.
Finally, the greatest challenge and burden will fall on parents and law-enforcement agencies in how they can successfully educate children to prevent future marijuana addiction. For one, legalization makes further access to marijuana a whole lot easier because unlike other drugs that are manufactured in laboratories, this is planted everywhere. References Clint. Marijuana Prices in the USA. Retrieved February 12, 2008 from http://www. e- stoned. com/rec/44-Marijuana-Prices-in-the-USA/ Economics of Canabis Legalization.
Retrieved February 13, 2008 from http://www. norml. org/index. cfm? Group_ID=4421 Gettman, John. (2006). Marijuana Production in the United States (2006). Retrieved February 12, 2008 from The Bulletin of Cannabis Reform, http://www. drugscience. org/bcr/index. html National Drug Threat Assessment, 2008. (2007). Retrieved February 12, 2008 from http://149. 101. 1. 32/dea/concern/18862/2008. pdf National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (2006) Retrieved February 12, 2008 from http://www. oas. samhsa. gov/nsduh/2k6nsduh/2k6Results.
pdf MAPS DEA Lawsuit. Retrieved from Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Drugs, http://www. maps. org/mmj/DEAlawsuit. html#6 Marijuana Overview. Retrieved February 13, 2008 from the Drug Enforcement Agency, http://149. 101. 1. 32/dea/concern/marijuana. html Medical Excuse Marijuana. (2008) Retrieved from DrugFreeAmerica, http://www. dfaf. org/marijuana/excuse. php Putting a Value on Cannabis. (2008) Retrieved February 12, 2008 from National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, http://www.
norml. org/index. cfm? Group_ID=4424 Results from the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Retrieved February 13, 2008 from the Office of Applied Studies-SAMSA, http://www. oas. samhsa. gov/nhsda. htm Rep. Robert C. Scott Holds a Hearing on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Regulation of Medicine. Retrieved February 12, 2008 from http://www. maps. org/mmj/dealawsuit_congressional_hearing. html Senate Bill 420. Retrieved February 13, 2008 from http://www. albanyca. org/archive/pdf/022007_8_1_AttF. pdf