Should marijuana be legalized? | The Tylt

Should marijuana be legalized?

Ten states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational weed, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo named legalizing marijuana as a top legislative priority in 2019. According to the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of Americans favor legalization of marijuana. Advocates argue the drug is safe and offers a number of health benefits. But opponents believe that not enough research exists on marijuana's long-term consequences. What do you think? 

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In late 2018, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared the "adult use of recreational marijuana" would be an administrative priority for the first 100 days of 2019. In the state of New York, legalization has not been a question of "if," but more a matter of when, given its close neighbors, Massachusetts and New Jersey, have both legalized weed or are on the way to doing so.

Vox's German Lopez reported that according to a New York Department of Health report:

...marijuana criminalization 'has not curbed marijuana use despite the commitment of significant law enforcement resources.' The report noted that marijuana-related arrests and prosecutions over the past two decades 'have disproportionately affected low-income communities of color,' even though these communities aren’t significantly more likely to use pot. And it found that legalization would let the state “better control licensing, ensure quality control and consumer protection, and set age and quantity restrictions,” as well as provide hundreds of millions in tax revenue to the state every year.

Lopez points out the significance of Cuomo's support for marijuana legalization:

If New York fully legalizes marijuana, it will become the 11th state—and the second most populous, after California—to do so. Medical marijuana is already legal in the state.
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When it comes to tax revenue, legalization may not be as lucrative as many believe. The New York Times's Josh Barrow reported on the huge miss in Colorado's tax revenue after the state legalized weed in 2014:

In February 2014, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office projected Colorado would take in $118 million in taxes on recreational marijuana in its first full year after legalization. With seven months of revenue data in, his office has cut that projection and believes it will collect just $69 million through the end of the fiscal year in June, a miss of 42 percent.

Even as marijuana sales and ensuing tax revenue have increased, Colorado citizens still aren't reaping the rewards they were promised. In the spring of 2018, Colorado teachers protested for higher salaries and increased funding for schools. Keep in mind, the 2012 voter-approved amendment that legalized recreational weed enjoyed a boost of support from "a commitment to send millions of dollars to Colorado schools." According to the Review Journal's Kathleen Foody:

...marijuana taxes don’t make up the shortfall between what schools need and the state money they get.
Superintendents have described the marijuana taxes that flow to schools as a 'drop in the bucket.'
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Many people believe weed should be legalized in the name of social justice and equality. As Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan points out in a CNN opinion piece: 

Moreover, the ACLU found that even though African-Americans use marijuana at similar rates to white Americans, they are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession....nationally, about one in four prisoners are behind bars for low-level drug offenses. When they finally leave prison–after years removed from employment, education and family–their chances of having a productive life are slim.
I firmly believe no person should be sentenced to a lifetime of hardship because of a marijuana arrest. It is morally wrong and economically nonsensical. That is why I am calling for an end to marijuana being used as an excuse to lock up our fellow Americans.

The Washington Post reported on Sen. Cory Booker's 2017 legislation that would both legalize marijuana and "expunge federal marijuana convictions." The Marijuana Justice Act would also punish states with "racially-disparate arrest or incarceration rates for marijuana-related crimes." Sen. Kamala Harris joined Booker in his efforts to legalize weed in 2018. 

The villainization of marijuana is keeping disproportionate groups of Americans behind bars, it is furthering racism and stereotypes, and it's past time for the country right these realities.  

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Some believe the debate surrounding the legalization of weed has been largely over-simplified. The Washington Post looked to neuroscientist Judith Grisel for insight on unforeseen consequences of legalization. As Grisel points out, marijuana is increasingly thought of as "either benign or beneficial," but "wishful thinking and widespread enthusiasm are no substitutes for careful consideration."

The debate around legalization—which often focuses on the history of racist drug laws and their selective enforcement—is astoundingly naive about how the widespread use of pot will affect communities and individuals, particularly teenagers. 
It’s not surprising, then, that heavy-smoking teens show evidence of reduced activity in brain circuits critical for flagging newsworthy experiences, are 60 percent less likely to graduate from high school, and are at substantially increased risk for heroin addiction and alcoholism...they’re seven times more likely to attempt suicide.

Despite public perception, marijuana remains a potent, mind-altering drug. Despite the potential societal benefits to legalization, the drug should not be unleashed to the pubic without careful consideration, research and an understanding for its long-term effects. Anything less would be a disservice to U.S. citizens. 

FINAL RESULTS
Culture
Should marijuana be legalized?
A festive crown for the winner
#MakeWeedLegal
#KeepWeedBanned