Marijuana Legalization: Should We or Shouldn’t We?

    Medical marijuana. Recreational marijuana. Should we or shouldn’t we? The benefits for both medical and recreational outweigh the potential consequences of legalization, yet not all states are ready to take the plunge. With nine states and our own nation’s capital already dishing out legal recreational marijuana, and thirty states legalized for medical use that include Oklahoma once their approved ballot takes place in June 2019, it’s clear the majority of Americans are on board with complete legalization. So what’s the hold up?

    The hold up for many are the potential risks that legalizing this controversial herb could bring. Some of the potential risks that are cited are addiction, mental health issues, second-hand smoke, lung disease, driving under the influence, and the age-old claim that marijuana is a gateway drug. While these concerns are valid, fact isn’t always woven in validity.

    Addiction comes with many faces, but is marijuana the substance to blame? According to The Washington Post as of 2017, one in eight Americans are alcoholics, yet alcohol is sold on every street corner in America. Critics argue that marijuana can jeopardize mental health, stating that, “marijuana use is higher among people with mental illnesses.” (Mental Health America) While those studies may be true, it can be argued that those with mental health issues are using marijuana to help treat the symptoms of their conditions.

    Second-hand smoke and potential lung disease may be one of the side effects of smoking marijuana, but what of edibles, THC rubs and oils? If one still chooses to smoke cannabis, it should be their decision to take their health into their own hands, not the state or federal government. Cigarettes are legal, yet they can also cause second-hand smoke damage and lung disease, but we’ve allowed Americans to make up their own minds about their health when it comes to this vice, an addictive vice at that.

    Driving under the influence of marijuana is a legitimate concern for those of us that are for and against its legalization. But DWIs are just as much of a concern as well. It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle of any kind while under the influence of alcohol; the consumption of marijuana should be treated no differently. Just as the purchase of alcohol requires a person to be at least 21 years old, so too should the purchase of marijuana, medical or recreational. Purchasing marijuana or alcohol under the age of 21 and/or driving under the influence should come with the same punishments, as they both can have the same repercussions, both for legal and safety reasons.

    Last but not least is the belief that marijuana is a gateway drug. While in some cases this argument can ring true, more studies should be done to prove whether the addiction comes from their own personalities or from the mind altering substances they take. If someone has an addictive personality, they are more likely to take mind altering drugs, and anything additive could be the catalyst to the next step – the harder drugs, the ones to which the drug war will continue to wage. But was marijuana the gateway to which they began using harsher drugs? Or was it their living situation, their families, the stresses that no one should have to go through in life but so many do. Did they take that first drink and want more? Did they smoke their first cigarette and want more? Did they choose to do any of these things to escape their reality, even for a moment? Any substance can become a gateway drug, yet so many of them are already legal with no question to their sales.  

    The legalization of marijuana would bring a slew of benefits that include medical use for patients that suffer from migraines, pain, anxiety, cancer symptoms and many more. If that wasn’t enough, legalization would bring tax revenue that could be used to improve state conditions – roads, bridges, schools, churches and even fund our law enforcement.

    The debate for legalization continues and Missouri isn’t exempt. Not yet legal for medical or recreational, November 6th will see two new amendments and a statute brought to the voting ballot, making it one step closer to state-wide legalization. Amendment Two would make it legal to purchase medical marijuana with a 4% tax. That tax would then be used for the healthcare of our veterans. Amendment Three would make it legal to purchase medical marijuana, but with a 15% tax. This tax would be used to establish a research center that concentrates on developing cures and treatments for health conditions we do not yet fully understand. Prop C, or the statute, would allow the legal purchase of medical marijuana with a 2% tax that would be used for drug treatments, services for veterans and better public safety. The statute removes the state’s prohibitions to anything pertaining to medical marijuana that are already in place.

    While there are reasons for and against the legalization of marijuana, whether it be medical or recreational, the tide is coming and decisions are being made. It’s up to us to be educated on both factors, good and bad, and to vote for what we believe is the best thing for us, for others, and for the community as a whole, regardless of which state it’s in. I know how I’m voting November 6th. Do you?

References:

“Risky Business: Marijuana Use.” Mental Health America. 2018. MHA. Web. October 25, 2018. http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/risky-business-marijuana-use

Ingraham, Christopher. “One in Eight American Adults is an Alcoholic.” The Huffington Post. August 11, 2017. The Huffington Post. Web. October 25, 2018.

Franciosi, Anthony. “12 Pros & Cons of Marijuana Legalization.” Honest Marijuana. June 18, 2018. Honest Marijuana Co. Web. October 25, 2018.

Berke, Jeremy. “Here’s Where You Can Legally Consume Marijuana in the US in 2018.” Business Insider. October 17, 2018. Business Insider. Web. October 25, 2018.

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