Subscribe to Fourth Estate Watch our YouTube Channel Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook

Progressive states lead in marijuana debate

Tyler Groves, Opinion Writer
November 27, 2012
Filed under Opinion

In the midst of the last presidential election, residents of Washington and Colorado had a close race of their own, resulting in the first two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

According to the Huffington Post, both states now allow adults over the age of 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. Each person is able to grow up to six plants, though only three can be matured at a time. Buying marijuana without a medical card is not yet in effect, and is estimated to take up to a year to come to fruition.

Federal law, however, does not recognize marijuana as a legal substance, making this recent turn of events an awkward moment. Some predict feds will make no end of trouble for marijuana businesses as they have been doing for medical dispensaries throughout the nation.

With the medical requirements out the window, it would make sense for federal agents to crack down even harder, especially because President Barack Obama  already expressed his distaste for legalizing marijuana during an online town hall meeting.

In attempts to get the federal government to play nice with states that have legalized marijuana, a petition was drafted. The petition asks the federal government to respect the outcome of the democratic process of states that wish to legalize marijuana. Within two days the petition surpassed its goal of 25,000 signatures, requiring comment from the president.

Along with the petition, Colorado U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette introduced a bill known as the Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act, which would exempt states from federal laws banning the sale, possession and use of small amounts of marijuana by adults. The bill so far is being co-sponsored by Colorado Democrat Jared Polis and Republican Mike Coffman as well as a number of other representatives. With these precautions in place and a growing support base, it appears legalizing marijuana is closer than ever. This doesn’t mean that everyone is ready, though.

Megan Buhr, UW-Green Bay sophomore accounting major, thinks marijuana shouldn’t be used for recreational purposes. She also shares the President’s view that ending the prohibition of cannabis won’t be a successful boost to the economy.

Furthermore, she isn’t convinced marijuana is a less harmful drug than alcohol — a crucial argument for marijuana supporters.

“There should be more official research on the effects of marijuana on the human body,” said Buhr. “At one time smoking [cigarettes] was seen as something that was OK. We should consider the facts that we don’t know yet.”

Both sides of the alcohol versus marijuana argument have twisted studies so much that it’s hard to believe either of them. Each side has claimed the other substance kills brain cells, causes cancer, promotes violence and results in car crashes.

Research aside, it’s hard to see how marijuana could be more destructive on the body than alcohol. Seeing as people have been drinking and smoking for hundreds of years, there should be a decent amount of accumulated knowledge about both activities just through observation.

For instance, prolonged alcohol use can damage the liver so severely it can kill. Drinking too much all at once can also result in death. No one has ever overdosed on marijuana, nor has anyone needed their organs replaced due to it. That isn’t to say that cannabis has no negatives — it is a drug, after all, and the preferred method of smoking doesn’t help.

Although marijuana should be regulated the same way cigarettes and alcohol are with taxes, age limits and penalties for driving under the influence, there should still be educational programs like D.A.R.E. and high school health classes that cover the dangers of legal and illegal drugs.

The public should never be ill-informed on anything, especially in regards to drugs.