WHAT IS MARIJUANA
AND WHAT WOULD IT MEAN
TO LEGALIZE IT?
Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the world; various forms of the drug have been used for thousands of years for their medicinal, social, and aesthetic effects.
International treaties and the laws of almost every country forbid growing, selling, and possessing marijuana. That makes lawbreakers out of more than 125 million people who have used marijuana in the past year, and those who supply them. It creates illicit markets with a total value in the tens of billions of dollars per year. Some of that illicit activity leads to violence and to the corruption of public officials. Millions of users each year are arrested for possessing the drug, and smaller but substantial numbers of traffickers go to prison.
The question of legalization concerns whether to change the laws to make it legal to produce, sell, and possess marijuana, and, if so, what rules should apply.
Full legalization would replace black market production and distribution with an aboveboard industry. There could still be rules and regulations, just as there are rules and regulations governing production and distribution of alcohol and automobiles and avocados. But the bulk of the trade would be populated by farmers and merchants and retail clerks, not by criminals.