The Implications of Legalizing Marijuana

In January 2018 a new California bill went into effect legalizing recreational marijuana use in the Golden State. There several advantages to legalizing Marijuana, including economic benefits.

This new law allows anyone 21 years of age or older to legally buy cannabis products. All marijuana products are taxed and California is expected to make a $643 million dollar tax overhaul in just one year. These tax dollars can be used to help rebuild the city’s infrastructures and can be used to buy new materials for school. According to Colorado’s state website, they made $247,368,473 in revenue from the sales of marijuana. Colorado was able to use this money to rebuild it’s crumbling schools.

Some parents are opposed to legalizing marijuana because they believe it will give kids easier access to the drug. However this is not the case. In fact, the Washington Post noted at the end of 2017 that since legalizing Marijuana, teen drug use had declined. Putting the weed in the control of people who are permitted by the government and regulated takes the power away from drug dealers; these criminals will inevitably lose clients who would rather get their drugs from a legitimate source.

Medically, it gives people easier access to a non-addictive alternative to addictive opioids normally prescribed by doctors.

America is in the midst of an opioid addiction crisis. Doctors are prescribing addicting opioids such as Oxycodone and Hydrocodone to treat aches and pains, like ones associated with arthritis. Marijuana provides a safe alternative to these potentially lethal drugs. Nobody has ever died from the consumption of marijuana, while in 2016 alone over 64,000 people died from opioid overdoses. In addition, some recovering drug addicts are also using marijuana to subside the withdrawal symptoms of opioids.

With far less negative effects than alcohol, and the ability to treat things like epilepsy, anxiety, and depression, many people wonder why cannabis was made illegal in the first place. Until 1937, there was no laws banning the use of marijuana. After the Mexican American war, many Mexican immigrants brought their traditions and customs to America. One of these traditions was the use of cannabis, or as they called it “marihuana”. The citizens in America had already known what cannabis was and it was used in a wide variety of American remedies. The government wanted a way to control the Mexican immigrants so they began to demonize cannabis to make it seem more harmful than it actually was. This led to the creation of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. This gave authorities an excuse to search, prosecute and deport Mexican immigrants. So in short, the reason that medical marijuana was banned in the first place was due to 20th century American racism.

However, marijuana should only be used by those who need to treat things such as anxiety, depression, or epileptic seizures that can’t be stopped by any other medicine. The fact is that smoking anything can be bad for your lungs and heavy users will find they don’t last as long at physical activities. Marijuana users also have problems with short term memory loss and may experience trouble remembering things. It is also very dangerous to drive a car while under the influence of marijuana and is strongly advised against. Like with any drug, there is abuse. Although marijuana is not physically addictive, people can develop a habit or mental dependence on the drug. The key to dropping teen drug abuse rates is to educate them on the dangers of the substances. They should be educated on how these drugs affect the body rather than creating a stigma around a relatively harmless plant with numerous medical advantages. I do not advocate for the use of marijuana but I believe it should be an option to those who feel they need it.

With more and more states legalizing Marijuana, more people are beginning to see that marijuana is less harmful than previously thought. In a society where marijuana is becoming legal in more in more places it is important to educate the youth on the real world side effects. But in the end, the medical and economic advantages of legalizing marijuana vastly outweigh the reasons it was made illegal in the first place.