The issue of marijuana legalization has been a hot topic these past few years, and a number of states have legalized the production, possession and use of the drug in small quantities. It looks like Pennsylvania has the potential to follow suit as it relates to this issue, after a small branch of the NAACP has officially shown support of a bill that would effectively legalize the drug. Senate Bill 528 is now on the table, which would allow individuals older than 21 years of age to engage in behavior relating to marijuana without facing state criminal charges.
The decriminalization of marijuana and related discussions can often be traced, at least in part, to the rejection of the war on drugs, which has landed a staggering number of individuals in jail – in fact, the United States has the unfortunate trophy for largest jail population in the world thanks to the incarceration policies related to drugs. By legalizing marijuana, those who would otherwise be considered criminals will be spared jail time which will, in turn, free up state resources for other initiatives. In addition, the cost of maintaining the large jail population could arguably be used more effectively toward compassionate rehabilitation and counseling programs to encourage those with drug problems to live healthy, productive lives rather than wasting away behind bars. Pennsylvania also plans to tax the sale of marijuana if it is legalized, generating additional revenue for government resources.
Of course, the legalization of marijuana at the state level is complicated because the federal government still declares the drug, and any activity associated with it, unlawful. The DEA will most likely continue to get involved in larger scale drug activity and drug rings, which is an effective way to minimize crime and prevent those involved from engaging in more serious street drugs such as cocaine, heroin and prescription pills.
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