A Political Issue Facing the State of Texasthat is of Personal Interest
Thesubject of marijuana use has been one of the sensitive discussionsthat the society continues to grapple with. Central to suchdiscussions has been the question of how the drug use could becontrolled to limit the adverse effects on the society. Theconventional approach to drug control has been prohibition, which ischaracterized by laws in which individuals found in the possessing,manufacturing, selling, or smoking bang can be tried and sentenced inthe court of justice. The prohibition approach is hinged on thepresupposition that sentencing offenders serve as a punishment todeter continued use. Despite the stringent enforcement practices, theuse of marijuana has been increasing over time, a scenario that haselicited questions of just what might be the intervention. Theresponse to this subject is particularly manifested by advocacies offull legalization of marijuana, rather than just decriminalizing it.The issue continues to draw heated reactions, with different statesalready engaged in the discussion of whether to consider suchadvocacies. I consider this an issue that interests me because ittouches on public health and safety issues.
The Short History of the Issue Identified andIts Significance to Society
Theissue of marijuana has attracted sharp reactions, resulted in aheated debate. Proponents of the legalization of marijuana haverelied on several points to defend their position. First is thatmarijuana prohibition policies have failed because a significantpopulation continues to use the drug, while the number of peoplefound using or possessing the drug has remained more or less the sameover time, if not tending to increase. For instance, according toAlyson and Nushin (20), in 2013, the number of people arrested in theUS for possessing the drug was 693,482, accounting for 45 percent ofall the drug law violations. Of these arrests, as significant as 80percent were a simple possession, not manufacturing or selling.Moreover, the number of people arrested for possession of marijuanais cited to be higher than all forms of violent crimes, while assignificant as 43 percent of the US population is reported to haveused marijuana at one moment in the lives.
Secondly,the minority populations are disproportionately represented in drugarrests despite the rate of utilization and selling of the drug beingequal across racial and ethnic groups. As Alyson and Nushin (2)notes, the people of color are four times likely to be arrested forpossessing the drug than the White people. Thirdly, marijuanaprohibition only results in the establishment of gangs, contributingto violence and corruption as the individuals involved strive toprotect people. It is cited that over a hundred thousands of peoplehave been killed because of drug war campaigns. The advocates havealso gone further to cite the evidence based on states that have goneahead to implement either legalization or decriminalization ofmarijuana, in which the rates of arrests reduced significantly and noincrease of marijuana use was reported (Alyson and Nushin, 14).
Theopposition to legalization has been primarily characterized by theconcerns that legalizing marijuana could escalate the use of the drugbecause it will now be accessible to everyone, including children(Walker, 20). Those who support this view have gone further to assertthe resultant harmful effects of increased dependency on marijuanacannot be taken lightly. The commonly cited adverse effects ofmarijuana include the decline in the IQ, antisocial behaviors, lowersatisfaction with life, addiction, financial challenges, mentalproblems, and poor performance at work and school (Walker, 5). Thesupporting views have tended to favor decriminalization. In thiscase, decriminalization describes an alternative approach tosentencing, in which people found in possession of the drug may befined or subjected to house arrest as a deliberate attempt to deterthem. As can be seen, the issue of marijuana is particularlycontestable.
Whether Any Governmental Actions Taken Placevia Legislation or Court Cases Regarding the Issue
The process of effecting changes wouldessentially be legislative, although the opposing groups have alsothreatened to go to court if the decisions taken are not popular.Therefore, the case at hand presents a typical scenario on how thelegislative processes play a crucial role in affecting public healthand safety. There are two ways in which the legislative process canbe seen to influence the public health and safety supporting it orsubverting it. While it is always the expectations that all thelegislative processes be objective in supporting public health andsecurity goals, its role can be largely seen to have beencounterproductive in this case.
The Position of Both Major Political Parties inTexas Regarding the Selected Issue
The political parties are divided on the issueof Marijuana. The Republicans are open in their support for Marijuanause. They are advocating for the legalization of marijuana to allowit to be used for recreational purposes. They are convinced thatdecriminalization of marijuana would not result in far-reachingconsequences as the opposition think. The Texas democrats, whoconsider that the move to decriminalize and even legalize marijuanacould be beneficial to the Texas communities, also support thisposition. Therefore, it seems all the political parties are unitedover the issue.
The Role of Interest Groups Regarding the Issueand Their Influence on the Position of Major Political PartiesRegarding the Issue
The special interest groups are playing asignificant role in shaping the case issue. The special interestgroups participate in advocating for reforms. These groups compriseof the nongovernmental organizations, intergovernmental societies andreligious groups. They pressurize the Texas lawmakers, theauthorities, and enforcement agencies to implement reforms that arepopular with the community members. They realize their goals byconducting advocacy campaigns and liaising with the policymakers sothat their concerns can be included in the decisions. In many cases,their campaigns involve the use of media advocacies and lobbying.Currently, like any other intergovernmental organizations, thereligious groups, human rights and other special interest groups areinvolved in activism of ensuring human rights protections.
Whether Any Party Represents My Interests
Thedirection of the political parties is in line with my views on theissue. Having noted the points of view of both sides, of particularinterest is which of the two options is most favorable. Certainly,prohibition has indeed failed to constrain people from using the drug— if only, it has resulted in problems such as disproportionateminority contact, gangs, violence, and corruption. On the utilitarianbasis, legalization tends to be the preferable approach because itdoes not only enable the society to overcome challenges typical toprohibition such as disproportionate minority contact, gangs,violence, and corruption, but also creates the allowance for thestates to tax and generate revenue for the marijuana business.Besides, legalization also creates the allowance to establish controlregulations such as who to use and when to use — in the manner thatthe alcoholic drinks are controlled (Kevin, 5). Indeed, iflegalization does not result in escalated use of marijuana, asalleged by the opponents, then there is no reason as to why it shouldnot be implemented. While decriminalization would have been anoption, it is still premised on the framework of prohibition, whichmeans it will still most likely produce poor results. For instance,it will not address the underground market of the marijuana business,which is estimated to be over $40 billion that would be a significantsource of revenue for the federal and state governments if taxed(Kevin, 5).
The Changes or Reforms Are Necessary to Resolvethe Selected Issue
Tomake the changes in regarding the issue, the Texas lawmakers need todevelop and pass the laws through debating. Nevertheless, the processmust involve the Texas communities. If the lawmakers pass reformsthat are not popular among the communities, they can anticipate legalbattles from individuals and the special interest groups. Dependingon the reactions, the issue can be subject to a referendum.
The Extent I Am Personally Willing To TakePolitical Action on The Issue Selected For This Assignment
I believe there is the need to adopt marijuanareforms. There are various options for political influence that aperson might pursue to change the public health safety. One of thepossible avenues is the court process. The court process provides alegal means by which a person could challenge public health policies.As Taylor(4) notes, it is always possiblefor one to succeed in such processes because law is already set outconcerning human rights issues such as public health, and whichrequires all communities to respect. As far as the present caseproblem is concerned, it would be possible for me and proponents towin the marijuana change because the position is justified. Anotheroption is establishment of partnerships with lobbyist bodies such asnon-governmental organizations to build a stronger network toarticulate and agitate the public health and community interests.
In conclusion, the issue of whether marijuanashould be legalized or decriminalized is one of the trendingpolitical problems concerning the Texas communities. As it has beennoted, the issue is contentious. However, based on theutilitarianism, legal reforms are necessary. Legalizationtends to be the preferable approach because it does not only enablethe society to overcome challenges typical to prohibition such asdisproportionate minority contact, gangs, violence, and corruption,but also creates the allowance for the states to tax and generaterevenue for the marijuana business. Therefore, this reform should besupported. These reforms can be achieved through legislation, andshould involve the Texas population. I would be willing toparticipate in the lobbying process, sensitizing the society on thecriticality of the marijuana reforms. I believe this is the mostsuccessful course to realize the change.
Alyson, M. and Nushin R. ANew Leaf: The End of Cannabis Prohibition.New York: New Press, 2014.Print
Kevin Peter. HillMarijuana: The Unbiased Truth About the World`s Most Popular Weed.Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2014. Print
Walker, S. Senseand Nonsense About Crime, Drugs, and Communities.8thed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2015. Print
Taylor, J.Thefundamentals of community health centers. Washington,DC: The George Washington University, 2014. Print