High or sober, the facts all show that the U.S. should legalize recreational marijuana
By Chris DuPrau @ChrisDuPrau
Annually, an estimated 88,000 people die from marijuana related causes. In 2014, almost 10,000 driving fatalities were due to marijuana impaired drivers (31% of all driving fatalities). In 2015, over 38,000 people died of liver disease stemming from marijuana use. Marijuana poisoning kills 6 people every day and of those 78% are adults ages 35-64. Teen marijuana use kills 4,700 people each year.
Scary stuff right there, and all of it is true, except it wasn’t marijuana that did this damage, it was alcohol.
Now, I don’t mean to put down alcohol—I LOVE alcohol, sometimes too much. I just have a really hard time understanding how our country allows the sale and consumption of one drug (alcohol) that kills thousands of people a year and prohibits another (marijuana) that although can be dangerous has not caused anywhere near the damage.
The government currently lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug. These are considered the most dangerous based on abuse and dependency potential. It is in the same category as heroin, LSD, ecstasy and peyote (shout out to my Native American peyote users). These are drugs that according to the government have no acceptable medical use and have a high potential for abuse. Tell people dealing with cancer or epilepsy or a host of other things that marijuana has no medical use. This is ridiculous, but what is crazier is the list of drugs in the Schedule II category.
Schedule II drugs include Vicodin, cocaine, Meth, methadone, Demerol, Oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Adderall and Ritalin. Are you freaking kidding me!!! Who would you rather run into on the street, somebody high on weed or someone Coked out of their mind or on meth?! Fentanyl can legit KILL you if you touch it! I mean my head is literally exploding looking at this list and thinking that our government believes this. Marijuana isn’t a Schedule 1 drug because it’s dangerous. It was put in that category because of racism, xenophobia (Latin American immigrants who entered the country were smoking) and because a rope maker with powerful friends was afraid that hemp was cutting into his rope industry (it’s true look it up).
Now, there are a plethora of reasons people do not want marijuana fully legalized. Some I understand (driving while high and how to accurately test). Some I don’t (think of the children!). Still though, whether you think the reasons for legalizing marijuana are legit or not, you can’t deny that they make some fair points.
- The government would raise substantial amount of tax revenue. That would mean more money for the states, more money for the federal government, more money going to social programs and more money going to schools.
- There would be a huge amount of jobs created. Some estimates put the number at north of a million new jobs. We see these effects already in states that have legalized recreational use.
- We would save billions in law enforcement costs. In 2013 the ACLU found that federal marijuana enforcement costs $3.6 BILLION a year. Imagine all the places that money, could go, and that doesn’t even include the amount we would save on housing inmates who were arrested on marijuana charges.
- It would be HARDER for kids to do it. I know what you’re thinking, “how can that be if its legal”. I teach high school kids. I see them every day, and I hear them talk. Back in my day we drank, smoked weed, did other stuff we weren’t supposed to do, but most of all we drank. We did this because fake ID’s were easy to come by and use. Not today though. Almost all places have a scanning device for ID’s to make sure they are legit. It’s a lot harder for kids to procure one that actually works than it was even 5 years ago. Students have told me that it is easier for them to get weed and other drugs because they don’t need an ID. Well, if you made it so that marijuana sales were controlled by the government and that you would need an ID to buy it, one can safely assume that it would be harder for underage kids to get weed. Would they still find ways of getting it? Sure, they’re kids, it’s what they do. It would at least make it MORE difficult for them to get it which may lessen the chance of them doing it during an important developmental period for their brain.
Nine states thus far have legalized full recreational use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, and 30 have legalized medicinal marijuana. Studies have not shown an uptick in crime thus far in any of those states, and most criminal acts associated with the drug have involved people who were visiting the state. All states have seen an economic uptick though. Colorado being the first to fully legalize recreational marijuana has the most data. Pueblo, Colorado had over $35 million increase in tax revenue. The community also gave $420,000 from the marijuana excise tax to scholarships for 210 students with the hope that this year that total will be in excess of $750,000. Now an economic boom should not be the only factor considered when legalizing marijuana, but it does provide at the least a very persuasive pro for legalization.
The more states that legalize marijuana the more pointless it is to not just legalize nationally. I have plenty of friends in Albany, NY who make the 45 minute drive to Pittsfield, Mass, pick up what they want and go home. I went to a Dead concert in Washington D.C. (where marijuana is legal) a couple years ago and walking to the show I thought I was at Bonnaroo. People were smoking left and right, the police were cool with it, and no one was fighting. We’ve all heard the term “beer muscles.” You know what you’ve never heard, “Weed Muscles,” because it’s not a thing. If this works in our nation’s capital, how can it not work throughout the entire country?!?
It makes no sense to have law enforcement focusing on stopping something in one state, that is completely legal the next state over, and the next country over as Canada has also legalized recreational marijuana. We are wasting effort and tax dollars on stopping something that was never as dangerous as people made it to be. If the pro’s vs con’s breakdown on full legalization were equal or even close to equal there would be a sound argument to keeping marijuana illegal. The facts show though that not only do the pro’s for legalization far outweigh the con’s, the people of this country more and more are showing that marijuana use is not a taboo thing that only the undesirable people in our country use but rather something that is becoming more and more socially acceptable.
Stop the rhetoric, stop the partisanship that is so prevalent in this country. Do something for once that makes sense and legalize recreational marijuana. I mean after all, the father of our country, George Washington himself grew it.
Martha Washington was a hip, hip lady.
Keep on keepin’ on