by Julia Wagner
A drug that causes 88,000 deaths per year, causes liver damage, impairs decision making and increases the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth is legal in every state in America. As you may have guessed, this drug is alcohol. Once you are 21, you are free to consume as much of it as you want.
At the same time, a drug clinically proven to slow the progression of diseases, control epileptic seizures and lower intraocular pressure, which causes blindness, is still illegal in many states. The same drug can exponentially decrease anxiety and aid the metabolism in breaking down sugars. This drug is marijuana. Its recreational use is legal in only five states, and the medical use of marijuana is legal in only 24.
Drug overdoses were responsible for 38,329 deaths in 2010. A grand total of zero where people who died due to an overdose of marijuana. This is mostly likely because you have to smoke 20,000 to 40,000 times more THC than what is found in a joint to ever be in danger of losing your life. These deaths were 60 percent due to prescription drugs. In the same year, 25,692 people were killed by alcohol poisoning. It seems the war on drugs is targeting the wrong drug.
People seem to fall back on the same arguments: marijuana is addictive, or a gateway to other drugs. These arguments are statistically irrelevant—out of the 42 percent of people in America who have tried marijuana, studies have shown that only 9 percent of them become dependent on it.
Legalizing marijuana could have a plethora of benefits, including an $8.7 billion in federal and state tax revenue per year, in comparison to the $20 billion it costs right now to prohibit it.
800,000 people are arrested per year for the use or possession of marijuana. Legalization could decrease the prison population to 700,000, compared to the 1.5 million currently imprisoned. As a result, we could save taxpayers a significant amount of money.
So what’s the problem with legalizing weed? The government gets $8.7 billion, saves $20 billion from prohibition, and prison populations would decrease. As some states have already realized, it should be a no brainer that marijuana should be legalized.
Colorado legalized marijuana in 2014, with an age restriction of 21. The results? Crime has decreased, fatalities due to drugged driving are nonexistent, and Colorado has generated more than $60 million in tax and licensing revenue in just one year. I’d say that Colorado is doing pretty well for themselves after this legislation passed, and protestors have been left with little reasoning to support their claims that it should be illegal again.
Alaska legalized marijuana in 1975, and do you ever hear about anything bad happening in Alaska pertaining to marijuana? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Though that could be partially due to it being Alaska and almost nothing ever happens there anyway.
If college students had the option and chose to smoke marijuana on the weekends instead of drinking profusely, I can only imagine the effect it would have. Sheetz and the local fast food restaurants would enjoy an influx of customers, and the number of noise complaints from parties might drop exponentially. Many people simply get the munchies and just want to relax when they smoke, maybe watch some Netflix while enjoying an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s.
On the other hand, drinking is associated with people becoming loud, obnoxious, and sometimes downright destructive. The effects of alcohol are far more dangerous than anything weed does to you. Yet, some RAs and other administrators and staff members will turn a blind eye to a student who is clearly intoxicated, but the moment you are suspected of smoking marijuana they jump on you like a starving dog on a bone.
It’s ridiculous that underage students caught with alcohol simply get a slap on the wrist, while students who are caught with marijuana have the potential to be kicked out of school. Yes, having weed is a federal offense and that is why it is treated so harshly, but socially it is far less detrimental to health and safety of our community.
America needs to legalize weed, and fast, because the overall effect of doing so will do nothing but help our country.
It’s ridiculous how many people go to jail for years because they were charged for using or possessing small amounts of marijuana. Their punishment can be just as serious as violent felons who go to jail and have a chance of parole in 20 years. Something in this equation just does not add up to me. Shouldn’t the punishment for people who ruin others lives be far greater than someone who simply smoked marijuana, which harms no one?
We should not be punishing the use and possession of marijuana this harshly, even if it isn’t legal. Some states have started on the right track by decriminalizing possession of marijuana, but that is one small step to fix a larger problem. We spend too much money and time trying to deter people from smoking marijuana, when we should be putting this time and effort into stopping more severe problems.
In the end, I would rather have a campus filled with stoners who are more interested in chilling and eating some snacks than a campus of drunken teenagers who have the potential to be destructive to themselves and others around them.
Categories: Volume 97 Issue 9 Oped