Every federal government pushes back, causing each to

Every time one gets on the interstate during rush hour, he or she is reminded of one thing: gridlock. This is what is currently happening in the United States with federal and state laws on marijuana.  Each time a state makes a move to progress toward legalizing the drug, the federal government pushes back, causing each to stay in one place with neither being able to get close to their goal. This gridlock can all  boil down to one issue: a disagreement between the two main political parties in the United States. The democrats and the republicans typically both strongly oppose each other and refuse to reach compromise. The republicans believe that it should not be legalized for recreational use (Diamond) and the democrats believe that it should be legalized for recreational and medical use (Weigel). The reasoning behind each stance can be backed up with facts, making this issue a fact against fact debate rather than a moral debate. The supporters of legalizing marijuana have on their side that no overdoses have ever been recorded while several people die annually from drugs such as tobacco and alcohol (Jacques). A record  forty-percent of the American population also say that they have tried marijuana at least once (O’Hara). This means that one in five Americans have smoked at least once, hence supporting that the argument “what are you going to do, throw everyone in jail?”. States that have already legalized marijuana, making it a taxable item, have seen a huge increase in state sales tax revenue. In 2017 alone, the state of Colorado collected $247,368,473 in sales tax revenue (“Marijuana Tax Data”). Taking that money and funneling it into failing school systems could be a fantastic cure for education systems, according to those who support the drug (Jacques). Those who might support keeping it illegal claim that marijuana is a gateway drug, citing that over thirty-seven percent of all the patients in drug rehabilitation are there to be cured of addiction to marijuana. One supporting this argument might bring up a study done by Caulkins & Sevigny in 2005 that examined the penal system and concluded that only one-half percent of people serving time are there on marijuana related charges (Jacques). Citing this study helps to debunk the claim that legalizing the drug would help to reduce the cost of the prisons, therefore lowering taxes (Jacques). The argument can also be made that America has legalized serval drugs in the past, such as tobacco and alcohol,  hoping to gain tax revenue from them (Jacques). Even though they made alcohol legal again and never made tobacco illegal, this does not mean that people are not addicted to both of these substances and that they do not cause many deaths annually. The exact opposite of that is true. Supporters of the law making marijuana illegal might say that Americans can use these two substances as a learning lesson in dealing with this conflict. There is even fighting over the issue within the parties themselves.. While the republicans believe that the drug should only be legalized for medical use, they are split on whether or not the federal government should leave it up to the states or if they should act upon the issue. The party is also split between the newer generation of more socially liberal republicans who believe that marijuana should be legal for all and that the government should focus on more important issues such as health care and the national deficit, versus the older generation that believes that government should pass laws on a moral basis Within the Democratic Party, however, it is a different story. Almost all democrats say leave it up the states to decide for themselves. The fighting in the party comes about when discussing how to legalize the drug, either using a referendum or just having the bill passed in the state house and become a law (“Why We Should Not Legalize Marijuana”) . The state of Georgia can be used as a perfect small scale example of what is happening on the national level. The state government is strongly controlled by the Republican Party. However, within the state, there are several cities controlled by the democratic party. In these cities, such as Atlanta, the city council has pushed to decriminalize marijuana, telling the Atlanta police officers, “Don’t go after the people who smoke a few joints, fix the resources on the hardened criminals, such as gang members.”  (“Atlanta Is The Latest U.S. City to Decriminalize Marijuana. Here’s What That Means.”) The state has, however, done something the federal government has yet to do. The state has successfully allowed patients with certain illnesses to use the drug as medicine (Baruchman). However,  the regulations on medical marijuana are still very strict, making patients jump through several hoops in order to receive the beneficial drug. When one explores the public’s point of view on the topic, it might be a surprise as to why the drug is still illegal when fifty-seven percent of people support legalizing the drug and forty percent of adults have at one point in their life used it (O’Hara). It is the opinion of many that if it was voted on by the people to legalize the drug,  it would have overwhelming support (Gilbert).   Within the federal government there cannot be a referendum to pass marijuana laws, which was the technique used in all but one state. Instead the representatives and the senators have to vote on a bill legalizing marijuana. With such gridlock between the parties, until the democrats, who support the legalization of it, gain a sixty percent majority in the senate or change the senate rules, the republican party will block the vote on a such a bill. One simple solution that America could use would be pleasing to our Anti-Federalists ancestors. This solution would be to take the law off the books as long as it is mandated that all the states hold referendums allowing the citizens of the states to decide for themselves. In the referendums, it should also be mandated that it takes no more or no less than sixty percent of votes cast to legalize the issue. It should also be mandated that once the referendum is held, the state governor must respect the voice of the people and not veto the bill.  Such an idea would meet all of the criteria for having a democratic system. This idea would take all of the power from the legislature, allowing for more debate and reaching compromises on such things such as the national deficit and healthcare. This would also allow the federal government to save money by releasing federal prisoners held on simple marijuana charges and all federal law enforcement to focus on more important issues, such as terrorism. Allowing all the states to hold referendums would also work to do something that has recently been going to the back of politicians minds when working: satisfying Dahl’s criteria for a democracy. The legalization bill would be left up to the public to vote on and decide if it should be law or not, which meets the criteria of voting equality and inclusiveness, since all can vote. The people elect the representatives who would opt to put this bill back before the people, allowing the citizens to control policy agenda. With this being a hot topic debate,  as prohibition was in the 1920’s, chances are the voters would come out in masses effectively participating in the referendum.  With more than half of American citizens trying marijuana at one point in time, half of the population knows the effects of the drug and the other half has heard about the effects or read about them by just opening up a magazine,  newspaper, or turning on the news at night. The voters would also be very well informed on their stances. Being stuck in gridlock on the interstate is not fun, so then why do the American political parties stay in gridlock with issues such as the legalization of marijuana. This gridlock of the two parties hurts America more and more with no compromise being reached, especially on this issue. The freedom of Americans is impeded because so many of them are locked up on federal drug charges. Legalization of marijuana is an issue that the two parties need to come together on and reach a compromise.