The article “If legalizing marijuana was supposed to cause more crime, it's not doing a very good job” by Ferner has a main point that the legalization of marijuana in Colorado did not live up to the expectations that it would cause a rise in crime rates. According to the Colorado police, the number of murders in Denver decreased by 40%, rape by 11%, and cars thefts by three times in the first five months of 2014, compared to the same period in 2013. The number of crimes related to the illicit trafficking of marijuana had decreased almost fivefold. Of course, half a year is a too small period of time for a direct link between the reduction in crime rates and the legal use of marijuana, Ferner said. But the trend is quite clear. Also, the police were quoted saying that the legalization of marijuana was directly related to a significant increase in one particular type of crime - arson. During the reporting period, the number of arsons had nearly doubled from 30 incidents in 2013 to 59 in 2014. The reason for such an increase is the fact that some of the Colorado residents began to produce marijuana for making hash oil.

This article aimed to address the fears of the marijuana legalization’s opponents. Traditionally, they have aroused around the concerns over whether the drug use will continue affect the crime rates. Because of the fact that the author did provide useful and recent statistics to support his position, the conducted research leaves an impression of being somewhat one-sided, as if Ferner only used the data to support his initial claim. Also, the author focused solely on discussion of the link between marijuana and decrease of the crime rates to explain in detail the broader concerns related to legalization and whether they changed over time.

In the article “Unknowns and uncertainties after one year of marijuana legalization in Colorado” Sutton asserted that the lack of places for cannabis consumption is the main problem of the current system of legalization. The critics of the system were said to argue that many dispensaries actually had to buy marijuana illegally. According to the author, the authorities were very concerned with the sources of income of these organizations. Similar to any other type of business, the legal cannabis-related business operations require the availability of financial resources and bank accounts. Both are prohibited by the existing laws. This effectively limits all financial transactions to cash. The major issue that the state of Colorado managed to resolve at the state level was related to taxation. To date, the sale of marijuana was said to have a 25% tax  in addition to the standard sales tax of 2.9%. The part of the tax revenues of the specific section were allocated for construction of schools.

The legalization of marijuana has very contradictory consequences. They relate mostly to the practices of legalization including the specific legal status of marijuana which is established by the state’s government. However, marijuana-related business problems are not limited to the tensions with the executive branch of power. The productive economic policy is only expected to be implemented in order to include all of the major parties of marijuana trade including producers and government authorities.

According to Wyatt’s “Legal weed states have lessons to share”, the legalization of marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington has resulted in the expected positive outcomes. The black market for drugs has not been eliminated. And the number of teenagers consuming marijuana has even increased. The governments of the two states have faced a number of challenges including the problems of the law enforcement agencies. First of all, they had to wait for a decision of the federal court on the legality of the adoption of these legal acts. Subsequently, another question arose pertaining to the methods of control of marijuana’s spread, as to they possible ways of taxation on this type of product. The tax rate for the legal marijuana sellers ranges from 44 to 29%, depending on the state. As a result, marijuana users prefer to buy drugs on the black market because it usually offers a lower price. The tax payments thereby did not generate the anticipated revenues. Therefore, according to Wyatt, in both state marijuana continued to spread illegally, thus the validity main argument in favor of marijuana legalization, i.e. the elimination of the black market was questioned.

The article tried to grasp the expediency of marijuana legalization. It conducted the analysis of its cost-effectiveness for the government in terms of tax income expectations and affordability for the consumers. And the author provided the fact that both of these topics, so far, failed to conclude the inconsistency of the major argument for the legalization. The article, however, does not consider any other issues that could be related to the benefits of the legalization. Neither had Wyatt explained why the elimination of the black market was perceived as the central argument for marijuana’s legalization.

The article titled “Medical use of marijuana doesn’t increase youths’ use, study finds” by Carey collected the evidence from some of the recent surveys to argue whether the decriminalization of marijuana is linked to an increase of its consumption among adolescents by making it more available and more appealing to them. The author cites the results of a research led by Hasin’s team involving data collected over nearly 24 years about more than one million teenagers in 48 states (legalized drugs and neighboring states), which did not confirm the fears. The said study pointed out that originally there was a fairly large number of adolescents consuming marijuana in these states. But changes in legislation have not led to a spike in consumption. Carey mentioned the opinions of the various experts who claim that this study was definitive, scientific, and could be used as a base for policy guideline. However, it was also mentioned that the research failed to include the effect of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. And, according to Sabet, former Obama’s advisor, the abovementioned survey did not consider the longer-term consequences of the adapted marijuana laws and the related commercialization efforts. The article indicated the firm concerns of many experts which are expressed in several other studies about the risk of the emerging cognitive difficulties in adolescent marijuana consumers if they develop a strong habit, as well as the results of the University of Michigan surveys that proved the rise of marijuana use among teenagers.

The author used the opinions of many experts from various fields of occupation in order to discuss the arguments both in favor of and criticizing the results of the abovementioned study. He pointed out how and why they could be useful for a government’s policy. He also reviewed the results of similar studies that did not fully confirm the proposed idea and that assessed the gravity of remaining concerns, which the study did not include. Thus, the article does not seem biased or politically motivated and it does not blame any of the sides of the issue. Rather, it can be productive for further research on the optimal policy for the problem.

The article entitled “Thinking the unthinkable. Amid drug-war weariness, Felipe Calderón calls for a debate on legalization” by The Economist, focused on the problem of increased drug violence in Mexico and its connection to the US drug policy. The article analyzed President Calderon’s claim that he would be willing to discuss the decriminalization of consumption, storage, and production of certain drugs. But it would be very difficult to solve this problem only within the borders of Mexico. In fact, it means that it would be necessary to legalize drugs in the United States as well. The White House strongly opposed this idea. The drugs continued to be smuggled into the US, and, in fact, in even greater numbers than ever before. The article also quoted several Mexican and US experts saying that the legalization of marijuana in California would majorly influence the Mexican drugs policy and the consistency of its long war on drugs.

 

The article substantially expanded the scope of the US drugs policy issues indicating its vulnerable connections to the Mexican laws and places of illicit trafficking. It provided an approach to the drugs problem as an issue of the American foreign policy and how it may have a major impact on the neighboring country. The author was precise in outlining the complexity of the perception of the legalization of drugs inside the US. It was useful to know how the former US government officials frequently changed their opinions once they were retired from the office.

Powell in “The economics behind the US government's unwinnable war on drugs”, asserted that the attempts of the US government to ban the drugs were failed. It did not fix the minor amendments and clarifications. The economic analysis of the war with the suppliers shows that it only increased drug dealers’ profits, allowing them to effectively respond to the strengthening of law enforcement and to the steady build-up of a successful procurement. The author argued that the US government had to realize that the cause of violence lies not within the drugs themselves but within the fact that they are illegal. He assumed the costs of drug prohibition and drug war and stated that, under these policies, drugs become more potent and less predictable in their quality, which puts the consumers at greater risks of committing crimes for because they would need more money on drugs. In conclusion, Powell emphasized that improving health and decreasing violence was incompatible with the US drug prohibition policy. He suggested the benefits of the drugs legalization alternative. It may increase the consumption, but the users would be safer and violence would likely to decrease.

The article provided a valuable cost analysis of the policy shortcomings based on the limited understanding of drugs problem. Besides the economic incentives, Powell uncovered the inherent contradictions of the War on Drugs and the prohibition policy. They were shown as contrary to the aims of the programs, namely improvement of public health and decrease of violence.

According to “Against the drug war with Ethan Nadelmann”, the interview by Siegel with the founder of the Drug Policy Alliance, Nadelmann, an alternative route of drugs legalization in the US can be seen as more successful. It passes the test for compliance with the objectives and means without limiting the personal freedoms. The consumption may increase. But the drugs will become more secure, and the level of violence will likely reduce. Nadelmann argued that the legal regulation and taxation of most illicit drugs could greatly reduce the crime rates, violence, corruption, black markets as well as affect the problem of trafficking of counterfeit and unregulated drugs and enhance public safety while at the same time give taxpayers access to the resources that will be used for more useful purposes.

The interview contains many interesting and unorthodox approaches to the problems of drugs and the existing policies employed to address them. Nadelmann resorted to a sophisticated argumentation mentioning many factors including economic, health, political, electoral, and organized crime trends, etc. The following point arises from this interview. It is necessary to bring out the underground drug market to the surface and adjust it as reasonably possible in order to minimize both the harm from drugs and the effects of the harmful policy bans.

In “The new stoned age: Bill Maher on the greening of America”, Mayer claimed that the question of marijuana legalization essentially brought together the heterogeneous society of the United States. Both the economic incentives and the fact that the war on drugs failed to make any significant changes in the country. The author pointed out the positive social and personal development factors associated with marijuana consumption which was said to produce not laziness but rather creativity and new good ideas including “smoking more pot.” He also said that it was mainly the Republicans who opposed the legalization, as well as any similar concessions of the US government. But they essentially wanted to bring back the America that is gone forever. According to Maher,  people originally fire sheriffs if they get in their way of growing crops. And the one thing war on drugs really taught the people is that “the customer base is large, strong and loyal.” He asserts that the spread of marijuana’s legalization across the whole country is only a matter of time.

Despite his humorous tone, the author dug deep into the problems of legalization. Although he is clearly standing in favor of legalization, Maher reasonably pointed out that the ongoing debate was ungrounded, because neither the 1960s nor the 1950s would ever return to modern times. Most interestingly, it implies that the government could use the policy related to marijuana legalization to unite the heterogeneous Americans and to achieve changes on this basis rather than use this topic as a tool for separation and for creation of minorities.

The article entitled “Despite push to legalize, “War on Drugs” still matters” by Tama, warns from hasty comprehension of complex economic, public health, and safety outcomes of the nation-wide legalization of marijuana because of the need to consider the commonly underestimated factors of legalization’s effect on the international illicit drug markets, transnational organized crime networks, and the American foreign policy. According to the author, illicit economy of the marijuana markets will not be eliminated before the prices converge and interstate arbitrage option is excluded. At the same time, the boundaries between the various activities of the international crimes, including drugs, weapons, and human trafficking, cyber-crimes, and terrorism continue to blur. And the associated effects of illegal markets and the potential responses of the global community and, most importantly, the western countries to the softening of the US drug policies remain unclear. The author argues that marijuana legalization is not a panacea for the issues of illicit drug markets and regulatory experimentations would be needed. Despite the justified criticism of the War on Drugs, its shortcomings must not be considered a reason to cease fighting with illegal drugs and with drug-related crimes. Strategies should focus on reducing the demand in the US for illicit drugs, continuously improving supply-side strategies, and improving governance and economic growth.

Tama made some clear suggestions why the legalization of drugs should not automatically mean the end of a war on the illicit drugs. The article is written in such tone and the provided arguments are capable of cooling certain hotheads who are celebrating too much the seemingly inconsequential legalization of marijuana, the associated benefits that were discovered, and fears that were not confirmed. The author reasonable called to focus on enhancing the system that changed with the legalization to incorporate the more effective means of fighting the illicit drug trafficking, including marijuana. Tama is saying here, with a sad tobe, that if America has to do it, it is worth doing right.

According to the article by Koplowitz “Marijuana legalization: how the War on Drugs is ‘A War on Black and Brown People’”, argued that the problem of marijuana legalization would not grasp the expectations of the whole American society without paying attention to the issues of the racial justice. Despite the fact that the prevalence of marijuana use is relatively equally distributed among the black and white consumers, the African-Americans in the US were much more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than the Caucasians. The African-American also have more problems after their release from prison on charges of drug possession with getting a job and receiving student loans or grants. The shortcoming of the legalization initiatives was said to be the unavailability of the laws to release those who are already jailed or imprisoned on drug-related charges, as well as to help the ex-convicts to re-integrate in the new marijuana economy. The article mentioned that DC was the only authority to address the racial disparities associated with enforcement of the drug laws, whereas Colorado and Washington mostly approached the legalization as the issue of a personal liberty.

The article draws attention to a rather important problem associated with drugs and their legalization, which is the issue of racial justice of the African-Americans. It could be argued that neither the American history nor the image of a modern America is limited to the struggle for the personal freedoms, demanding more and more concessions from the government. The problem of racial discrimination is not always sufficiently taken into consideration and addressed in the arising initiatives of the US government aimed at enhancing or changing the existing policies.

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