I feel as if there is an elephant in the room in my Government class, that elephant being, the legalization of recreational use of marijuana. I believe that no one feels comfortable discussing their views on it, due to the negative connotations that are attached to it. However, I feel as if it is very important to talk about, currently there are 21 states that have legalized use of medical marijuana, but only two that have legalized recreation use. A result coming from the high publicity that Washington and Colorado have brought in, many states are beginning to take a second look at the legalization. In order to form an educated opinion about whether to would vote yay or nay, you must understand the pros and cons of recreation use of marijuana.
Ever since the recession ended in 2009 many states have been fighting an uphill battle to produce a positive income. Luckily, many have done so, however, there are still many states that have been struggling financially. Legalization of recreational use of Marijuana can speed up that process for those states. If the law were to be passed then states could create new taxes which tax the sale and distribution of marijuana which would bring in a pretty penny. In Colorado, “analysts suggest that taxing the drug could raise between $5 and $22 million annually” (drugrehab.us). The legalization will also be sending less money to support organized crime, which in turn allows for a more effective police force. Lastly, Marijuana has been proven to have many medicinal uses, and is often used as treatment for pain as well as PTSD, and Multiple Sclerosis. Legalizing recreational marijuana will allow easier access of the drug to patients who could not get it before.
There are two separate strains of Marijuana, Indica and Sativa. When taken, Indica tends more so to affect your body, while Sativa affects your mind. However, in both cases the drug has a perception altering effect which can put the user as well as other at risk. Marijuana is also considered a, “gateway drug”. This means that first time drug users who use Marijuana often open doors of interest to other drugs. So logically, if you want to decrease number of drug users, restrict where it all began. Lastly, even though Marijuana is used widely for medical purposes, little research has been done on its effects. Said by Dr. Gupta on CNN, “It is an illegal drug, and its hard to do studies on a drug thats illegal. So you have to look towards other countries in order to get data” (CNN). Due to the lack of information around Marijuana’s effects, many users do not know certain risks. For example, “While tobacco has a bad reputation for pumping carcinogens into the lungs, marijuana is estimated to have levels of carcinogens that are 50-70% higher than tobacco smoke. The effect is amplified by the fact that many pot smokers inhale more deeply than cigarette smokers, increasing the amount of time the lungs are exposed to cancer-causing chemicals” (Drugrehab.us). However, are all of these negatives enough to weigh out the positive aspects?
The legalization of recreational Marijuana in Colorado and Washington have started a trend that is slowly taking of the country. Many states that have been opposed to the idea since the beginning, are opening up to it. For example, the south has been largely opposed to the legalization of medical Marijuana, however, in recent news Florida has taken some action to possible become the first. Whether states allow recreational use legal or not, new laws are being passed around the country that eliminate criminal penalties for possession of a small amount of Marijuana, which many believe is just the first step.
In our very own Oregon there was a new law that was proposed called measure 91, which passed. Measure 91 made recreational use legal for all persons 21 and over. However, each person is limited to 8 ounces at a time, and can only grow up to 4 plants effective July 1st. A big question that users are asking is how much will it be? As many people know, Washington has been very strict with their pricing of Marijuana and because of that have not profited exponentially. While on the other side, Colorado, which has much lower prices, has been raking in the benefits. Oregon has taken a more Colorado approach, and have rumored a fairly low tax rate on the sale and distribution.
I believe that the legalization was a good idea due to its vast medicinal purposes. Marijuana has a thick folder of medicinal purposes, and on top of that every other week in the news there is a new finding that marijuana can help cure a certain disease, and that trend will continue. However one of the questions that has really interested me, asked by one of my classmates, is what will happen after the next presidential election, and if the president enforces the federal Marijuana law? Personally, I do not think that the next president will change the enforcement, however, if they do, I think that many states will then sue the government to get the law removed. What do you think?
“Cannabis Sativa vs. Cannabis Indica and Hybrid Strains.” Cannabis Sativa vs. Cannabis Indica. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2014.
“Girl, 7, Uses Medical Marijuana for Cancer Treatment.” YouTube. YouTube, 27 Nov. 2012. Web. 03 Nov. 2014.
“It’s Time to Legalize Recreational Marijuana: Editorial Endorsement.” OregonLive.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2014.
“Oregon Legalized Marijuana Initiative, Measure 91 (2014).” – Ballotpedia. N.p., 2014. Web. 03 Nov. 2014.
Prah, Pamela M. “Some States Rake in Revenue, Others Struggle.” USA Today. Gannett, 09 June 2014. Web. 03 Nov. 2014.
“Pros and Cons of Legalizing Recreational Marijuana.” Drug Rehab. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2014.
“State Marijuana Laws Map.” State Marijuana Laws Map. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2014.
“The Dangers of Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana.” Drugless.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2014.