Under the federal and state laws investigations for a marijuana offense may result to forfeiture of property that includes houses, cars, cash, boat, and land and business equipment. For the seizure to occur it does not depend on whether the individual had formally been charged with any crime or is found guilty (Booth, 105). Henry Hyde an Illinois congressman reported in 1993 that more than 80 percent of people whose properties are seized by the federal law of drugs are not charged with crime (Ferguson, 56).
The federal law system often target suspected offenders of marijuana for the purpose of seizing their assets and in most cases with tragic results. A good example is the case of Donald Scott a millionaire rancher who was shot and killed in 1992 by law enforcement officers at his estate in a botched raid. The law enforcement did not find any plant of marijuana and later it was conceded that primary motivation of the law enforcement was to seize his land (Booth, 106). Marijuana laws in the federal states have disparate impacts on the racial and ethnic minorities.
In 1995 alone the number of Hispanic and Africans Americans who were approximated to be smoking marijuana were about 20 percent of the total population of the United States while the number of those sentenced as marijuana offenders comprised more than 57 percent (Ruschmann, 305). The states incarceration and arrests are a similar case (Califano, 38). For example in 1995 in Illinois more than 57 percent of the individuals sent to prison were Hispanics and black African Americans.
In 1994 the number of black African Americans arrested for marijuana offenses in state of California constituted to 49 percent. In 1995 racial and ethnic minorities arrested for marijuana offences in New York were over 75 percent. In 1972 Shafer commission reported its finding to the congress and the report was advocating for decriminalization of marijuana. However despite the recommendation of this report more than 10,000 American citizens have been arrested on marijuana charges (Booth, 109).
Elected officials at federal and state level employ techniques that exploit the natural fear of violent crime of the public and in response propose harsh and at times mandatory anti drug legislation. This legislation seldom targets large drug traffickers and violent criminals but rather produce devastating impacts on the minor and mostly non violent drug offenders (Booth, 109). Harsh state and federal sentences apply to all marijuana offenses including possession and distribution regardless of whether the event is associated with any violence or whether the defendant is a significant trafficker of marijuana (Califano, 40).
Possession and cultivation of marijuana offenses have nothing to do with other offenses of violence yet the offenders of marijuana serves even longer sentences than criminals convicted with violent offenses like murder and rape (Gallup & Newport, 63). The federal state and the state leaders need to reconsider the priorities of the nation and should attach more importance on the violent crimes rather than targeting on marijuana smokers. The total expenditures of united state war on drugs averages more than 15. 7 US billion dollars per annum (Ruschmann, 308).
States and local governments also spend a lot of money in trying to enforce laws on marijuana. Prohibition of marijuana in the united state cost taxpayers a lot of money (Booth, 111). The federal states are ought to spend the fiscal cost that otherwise spent in prohition of the use of marijuana in targeting violent crimes rather than targeting marijuana smokers. In addition responsible use of marijuana does not cause any harm to the society and therefore the federal government should have no interest on the use of marijuana (Califano, 44).
Prohibition of marijuana does not exempt the medical use of marijuana. Many seriously ill persons in the united states who use marijuana as a therapeutic agent in order to alleviates symptoms of diseases such as cancer, glaucoma, AIDS or multiple sclerosis often risk jail and arrest to obtain and use their medication. Several states in the United States have recognized the therapeutic value of marijuana (Ruschmann, 310). 34 states between 1978 and 1996 had passed laws recognizing the therapeutic value of marijuana (Califano, 44).
In most recently California and Arizona passed laws providing for the medical use of marijuana often under supervision from a physician. However these states are limited in their ability to implement the medical use laws due to the federal government prohibition on the use of marijuana (Booth, 112). Many terminally ill patients find the use of marijuana as the most efficient way to relief their pain and therefore the federal government should not deny them access of their medication (McCollum, 85).
On the other hand opponent marijuana reforms also range from much opposition of the changes of the current laws to merely opposing other legalization scenarios. The argument from the opposing side include: first the long term use of the drug are linked to neurodegenerative disorders, heart attack and cancer (Ruschmann, 312). Second use of marijuana impairs the nervous system similarly to alcohol and therefore legalization of the drug will lead to many road accidents. Third some argue that the use of marijuana for medical purposes is minimally useful and produces side effects especially when administered in large doses.
Finally marijuana is considered by some critics to be a gateway drug that leads to use of other hard drugs (Ruschmann, 312).
Booth M: Cannabis: A History. 2005. ISBN 0312424949, Picador. Califano J: High Society: How Substance Abuse Ravages America and What to Do About It. 2008. ISBN 1586486721, Perseus Books Group. Ferguson S: Communication Planning: An Integrated Approach. 1999. ISBN 0761913149, SAGE. Gallup A & Newport F: The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion. 2005. ISBN 0742552586, Rowman & Littlefield.