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Why is marijuana illegal?
Something is illegal when laws are passed prohibiting it. Marijuana is against the law because there are specific laws which make it illegal.
To understand why certain things are illegal, we should understand two basic principles: (1) where laws come from; (2) why one thing, rather than another, may have a law against it.
Laws are rules which are enforced by a controlling authority or Government. In the United States, we have a Constitution, which is considered the highest body of law, or rules, in the land. The US Constitution creates three areas of government: 1. a President to oversee the country; 2. a Legislature to enact and create rules of law; and 3. a Court system to test and enforce the rules and laws enacted by the legislature.
Laws are usually made with the idea of protecting people or things. For instance, laws against driving too fast are safety-oriented and are intended to protect people. Laws against chopping down native cactuses are intended to protect the desert plants, rather than protecting people.
Before a law on anything is created, people must agree that a law is necessary. For some things, most people agree there is no need for a rule or law to control it. On the other hand, when enough people agree that a law is needed, then one may be created by the legislature. Legislatures are made up of representatives elected by people.
If something is determined to be dangerous, and people are doing it in spite of its dangers, then the legislature may create a law to prevent people from doing it and the court system may punish people who break the law.
So, marijuana, like most things which are illegal, has been determined to be a danger to the people, and because some people use it, sell it or possess it in spite of its dangers, laws were created by the legislature to prevent people from using, selling or possessing it and to punish people who violate the law.