Should marijuana be legalized?

posted in: Columns | 0

Rachel Petty: YES

Now that some marijuana laws are changing in different parts of the country, the debate is a hot topic: should the good herb be legalized? If you ask me, the answer is yes.

To put it simply, I don’t see a downside to legalizing the drug. Not only have its economic effects been prevalent in Colorado, but the crime rates there have also plummeted.

Marijuana isn’t a lethal drug and would be even safer with market regulation. Legalizing the drug would hurt the drug cartels and eliminate dangerous situations people may put themselves in in order to obtain the drug currently.

Legalizing marijuana would also help with overcrowding in jails. Why are we spending millions of dollars to keep people who just wanted to get high in jail? Our nation’s capital has decriminalized the drug, and for good reason. If the rest of the country were to follow suit, there would be fewer people in jail for nonviolent crimes.

The side effects of the drug are nothing to be alarmed about either. People are generally just more relaxed, open-minded and often times happier. Being under the influence of marijuana could lead to more intellectual conversations and a deeper curiosity about the world.

Sounds pretty awful, right? Why would we legalize a drug that could currently be laced and is draining money from our economy by keeping people in jail?

Let’s face it — we’re only hurting ourselves by keeping the drug on the illegal list. People are going to smoke either way, so we might as well boost our economy in the process.

Briana Ellison: YES

The 2012 presidential election saw the beginning of the marijuana legalization movement, when the state of Colorado voted to decriminalize the widely loved herb.

The legalization of marijuana is an issue that I’ve struggled with: I’m for legalization, but I’ve also been able to see why many people are against it. 

I’m pro-legalization because I don’t necessarily see why it’s been criminalized in the first place. A majority of those who smoke marijuana aren’t participating in a criminal act.

Yes, federal mandates claim that smoking marijuana is a criminal act in itself, but I don’t agree with this. I think that this criminalization is severely misplaced.

Alcohol has greater negative effects than marijuana, which is why more people seem to turn toward the latter.

Additionally, many marijuana users are simply indulging in a habit or hobby. Marijuana itself isn’t addictive, and some people tend to use it simply as a “treat.” I believe it’s unjust and immoral to criminalize the casual, non-harmful use of this substance by many in the population.

Legalization critics like to point to the health implications that come with smoking marijuana, but if marijuana is simply illegal and criminalized due to these effects, cigarettes should be as well. 

But doing that would lead us down a circular path where we would have to criminalize every outside substance that could have possible negative health effects.

Essentially, the criminalization of marijuana was, and continues to be, exaggerated fear-mongering.

We’ve known for centuries the astounding medical properties of marijuana, but the information has been shrouded by negative perceptions. In order for us to continue using marijuana in medicine — as it’s seen incredible breakthroughs in treating numerous diseases – we need to legalize it. Otherwise, we’ll continue to flounder our own growth as a nation. 

Hayley Moore: NO

I’ll admit that the legalization of marijuana is always something I’ve been torn with. I’m fully in support of the drug’s medical uses and understand the economic prosperity that’s predicted to come with the legalization.

However, I find myself against legalization because it’s a drug that’s typically used for recreational use. This drug has been illegal for a number of years, so clearly there must be a reason why legislation still hasn’t voted to make it legal.

Marijuana is considered to be a gateway drug. If it becomes legal, people who have never tried the drug might, and try various other drugs as a result. Just because marijuana may become legalized doesn’t mean that citizens won’t continue to use other forms of illegal drugs. It almost seems as though it would encourage drug use.

People who use marijuana for recreational use have a number of reasons for their usage. They may enjoy the relaxed feeling that comes with it and the out of body experience. They may like the feeling of being high.

While these may seem like a great time, with any drug use, sometimes the user can lose control. What would happen if someone lost control and committed a crime?

Yes, Colorado and Washington, D.C. seem to be succeeding with the legalization and decriminalization of the drug. But this may not always be the case. For all we know, someone may commit a gruesome crime under the effects of marijuana that may cause a national uproar. As a result, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a call for it to be illegal once more. We should leave well enough alone and continue to let the drug be illegal.

Kevan Hulligan: YES

I’m actually surprised that the legalization of marijuana is still considered a controversial issue in contemporary American politics. When compared to issues like police brutality, income inequality, the lack of a living wage for many of our workers and the ability to price gouge necessary medication in order to profit from human misery, the legalization of marijuana is like a minnow in the sea.

However, this isn’t to say that I don’t care about the issue. For me, it just seems like common sense to legalize it.

From our earliest school days, we’re told about how drugs won’t only ruin our health, but ruin our entire lives. This may be true of some more harmful drugs, like cocaine or heroin, but for some reason, marijuana is always lumped in there as the odd man out. Heroin use can destroy parts of your brain and make you chemically dependent on using it every day. Marijuana, at best, will make you eat most of the stuff in your fridge and then put you to sleep. Seems to be an imbalance here.

Just look at some of the things we allow people to ingest in the United States; cigarettes can give you life threatening cancers and, although I enjoy the occasional drink just as much as anyone else, alcohol can do some serious harm to your liver. Yet, we allow these products to be sold and advertised on TV just like any other product. What real substantial damage would happen if marijuana was just another product on the shelf?

Let’s take a look at the state of Colorado. They passed pot legalization a little over a year ago through a popular referendum. And how have they done so far? For starters, the drug crime rates actually fell in some places, and in other places it remained exactly the same as before.

How much did they manage to earn in 2014 alone? Fourty-four million dollars. They also expect to earn at least $125 million by the end of the year. If you want to talk about a great way to raise money for the state, here’s your answer.

In the end, all that’s happened is that people who would’ve smoked weed anyway are now able to enjoy their hobby without the fear of being jailed for it. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?