In 2012 a bill was passed to make the use of medical marijuana legal. To obtain the drug though, you would need to visit the doctor and get a medical card. It was hard to get a medical card and you needed a really good illness. Each state has different medical requirements for how you do get your card. The most common illnesses for getting a card, however, are cancer, glaucoma, severe anxiety, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson disease, PTSD, and any kind of terminal illness. For one year only the use of medical marijuana was legal, until Colorado decided to make history. In 2013 the State of Colorado was the first state to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. Meaning anyone over the age of 21 was free to buy, smoke, and grow weed. Since the legalization Colorado’s tax revenue has reached about 1 billion dollars. That is one billion dollars for the state to use on whatever they see fit. Which leads me to believe that the legalization of recreational marijuana should become legal all throughout the United States for the financial gains, the failures of prohibition, and to finally decriminalize it.
Following Colorado, more and more states started to see the benefits of legalization and choose to legalize it as well. So far we have 11 out of the 50 states have chosen to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. Since the legalization, the revenue collected would essentially go back into the market. The funds would be used for any and all public schooling, rehabilitation centers, fixing up the community, and for research on the drugs full effects, short and long term. For example, Colorado has used their revenue in many different ways; provided is a pie chart showing the different ways they use their revenue. Since it’s now legal, more dispensaries can open up, creating more job opportunities for the community. Which means, if every state decides to legalize the use, more jobs would open up, and help everyone across the map.
[image: ] “Today, over 106 million Americans have admitted to having tried it, and over 17.4 million admit to having used it in the past month.”, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. With those numbers, we can conclude that marijuana is such a popular drug that there will be a high demand of it. Guaranteeing that if taxed, profit will absolutely be obtained. Not only from the purchase of the drug itself, but for those who choose to grow the plant will also be taxed. However, there is a 3-plant limit per household for anyone who does choose to grow their own strand, and they would have to obtain a license. So, basically anything marijuana related can be taxed and therefore create more revenue.
Now not only will there be financial gains, but now the use of black-market dealing is no longer effective. Just like in the 1920’s when alcohol was banned, people found many ways to get around those laws with underground speakeasies, so why are we really surprised that people are able to get illegal drugs just as easily. However, “black-market” marijuana can be risky because there is no certain it is JUST marijuana. For example, just recently there is a sudden outbreak of lung illnesses being traced back to black-market marijuana vaping carts. There have been at least 530 documented cases of the people affected by these carts, and at least nine have lost their lives because of them as well. If every state legalizes, we could prevent many more illnesses and even deaths, by controlling and regulated what can and cannot be sold! Another example is something called Synthetic Marijuana or known by its street name “K2”. A drug created by dried plants sprayed with mid altering chemicals. This fake drug has sent thousands to the emergency room and has even caused deaths. These type of drugs is the reason marijuana has a bad reputation. If legalized, prohibition goes away, and stops preventing the economy from growing. Is there a guarantee that these fake drugs will be taken out completely, no. However, there is a lesser chance that someone does get these. When I was younger, an old boyfriend and his buddy pressured me into taking a big hit of marijuana. I had smoked a little bit before that but not very much, so I was still very new to the drug. However, after taking this hit, something felt wrong. I wasn’t feeling how the drug normally made me feel. From what I remember, I started to cry, I thought I was talking but I wasn’t, and I kept wanting to fall asleep. My (ex)boyfriend also agreed that he was feeling different and that was not a normal strand. Somehow we managed to get back to my house where we were lucky enough to just sleep it off. Later we did find out, we were given a laced batch. It was truly terrifying; I wasn’t in control. That was the last time I touched the drug for a very long time.
Of course, though, not everyone is excited to see the legalization of marijuana. “I was surprised and disappointed that the folks in our beautiful state of Colorado would vote to legalize the use of marijuana, medical or otherwise. Has legalization been a success? I suppose for those in the business, yes, they’re making money. But how many tax dollars and how many man hours have been spent in dealing with all the issues it’s created?” – Dick Wyant, Arvada.
“I have no problem with the use of medical marijuana, if it is proven to be helpful scientifically; I would never want anyone to suffer needlessly through pain. But get rid of recreational marijuana; it’s causing many problems with our youth and our drivers, who don’t think it’s wrong to be under the influence of marijuana in comparison to alcohol — that’s a major mistake.” – Yvonne Bobela, Thornton. Except the only problem is, according to recent reports, the legalization has been nothing but good things for the states. According to the “Colorado Department of Public Safety”, DUI cases from 2014 to 2017 have gone down 15% and the percent of drivers in fatal crashes who were tested positive for Delta 9 THC has also gone down from 11.6% in 2016 to 7.5% in 2017. These results are showing that legalization is helping to keep the streets safer.
I recently took a trip to a state where marijuana was legal. Since I was going to be in that state for a while I decided to visit a dispensary and try the drug one more time. Since here it was regulated and carefully selected. I didn’t get much, but just enough to try it out and have some fun. While everyone else in my party was getting drunk and acting foolish, I was lighting up a joint and just getting the munchies. The only negative thing that occurred while I smoked was the lingering smell. The use of marijuana didn’t make me want to go out and rob a store, it didn’t make me want to go kill some random person, all it truly did was make everything funny, give me the munchies, and gave me the best sleep I’d had in months. I do understand that everyone experiences the drug in different ways, but just like alcohol, there aren’t very many differences in the other experiences.
Some, however, are arguing that if more states do legalize, it could be easier for our youth to obtain the drug. Except, the Marijuana Policy Project found that through a regulated system, licensed merchants have an incentive to check for ID’s and avoid selling to minors. Just like if a minor tried to buy alcohol or tobacco, the clerk almost always asks for an ID. Minors will always try and find a way to get what they want, but now we can make it harder for them just like we do for alcohol and tobacco.
In conclusion, the legalization of marijuana across the States can be an important step in helping raise our economy. With the extra income we can finally fund necessary programs we so desperately need. Recreational marijuana has also been proven to be the safest drug on the market, with zero cases involving overdosage, so why are we still treating it like its heroin?
- Project, Marijuana Policy. “Decriminalization.” MPP, https://www.mpp.org/issues/decriminalization/.
- Rob Kuznia, Lena Sun, and Lena Sun Rob Kuznia. “Potential Culprits in Mystery Lung Illnesses: Black-Market Vaping Products.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 25 Sept. 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/potential-culprits-in-mystery-lung-illnesses-black-market-vaping-products/2019/09/24/cb5b708e-d98d-11e9-ac63-3016711543fe_story.html.
- “Colorado Division of Criminal Justice Publishes Report on Impacts of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado.” Department of Public Safety, 26 Feb. 2019, https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/publicsafety/news/colorado-division-criminal-justice-publishes-report-impacts-marijuana-legalization-colorado.
- Awad, Ann Marie. “Where Does All The Marijuana Money Go? Colorado’s Pot Taxes, Explained.” Colorado Public Radio, Colorado Public Radio, 20 Sept. 2019, https://www.cpr.org/2018/10/22/where-does-all-the-marijuana-money-go-colorados-pot-taxes-explained/.
- Punjabi, Rajul. “Everything You Need to Know About K2, the Dangerous Weed Knockoff.” Vice, 8 June 2018, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/mbk54n/everything-you-need-to-know-about-k2-the-dangerous-weed-knockoff.