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Making Mary J. legal

The idea of legalizing marijuana in the U.S. has been floating in the air for decades. Now that the economy is in the toilet trying to maintain its grip for another impending flush, legislatures are seeking any possible way to raise money.

According to a report on Fox News, Democratic state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano says that legalizing marijuana for adults over the age of 21 and taxing it at $50 an ounce could bring a state more than $1 billion a year.

Will $1 billion make much of a difference? Well, that’s just the tax money that could be raised from legalization. What about all the money that could be saved?

In a cover story by Parade magazine, the United States is by far the most criminal country in the world, with 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its prisoners. The U.S. spends $68 billion per year on corrections and one-third of those people are serving time for nonviolent drug crimes. The U.S. also spends around $150 billion on policing and courts, and 47.5 percent of all drug arrests are marijuana related. That’s a lot of money that could be better spent on new schools, infrastructure or just put back into the system for the public.

Sounds like a great idea for a starving economy, but….

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has opened the forum for discussion on the topic of legalization, as reported on Fox News. On Tuesday, during an event to promote wildfire safety in Davis, California, the governor said it’s time to get a debate going as to whether or not legalization is the right way to go. He did, however, make sure to say that he’s not supporting the idea.

Gov. Schwarzenegger also warned against making potentially detrimental decisions just to raise money. He noted that some countries that have legalized marijuana have experienced some negative effects. A quick search online found that those negative effects are mostly health related, with more cases of severe coughing and lung cancer reported.

Let’s also not forget that California was the first state to legalize the medical use of marijuana in 1996. A dozen other states have followed in its footsteps since then by establishing similar laws.

While on the topic of the legal use of medical marijuana, another story reported on Fox News found that a Denver student was banned from her senior prom because her date “reeked” of marijuana. The young man admitted to smoking pot earlier in the day, but said it was for medical reasons. Later, it was confirmed that he was legally allowed to smoke marijuana, since a few years before he suffered severe injuries in a car accident. Now the girl has an attorney and is threatening to sue the school for what happened.

It’s obvious that we’re already having problems with even the legal use of marijuana. Seeing a full fledge legalization of the drug might be way down the road, if at all.

Most arguments against legalization are religiously or morally rooted. Many believe that legalized devices are debilitating, such as gambling and prostitution. Another argument is medical, which relies on how marijuana can be dangerous to your health, though alcohol is noted as being potentially much more dangerous because of its tendency to make people become violent.

It’s true that marijuana can be abused, obviously. But the costs associated with criminalization are massive, maybe so big they’re unsustainable. Would legalization make things any worse?