Should marijuana be legalized? | The Tylt
As of January 1, 2018, marijuana is now legal in California, and many believe the rest of the United States should follow suit. According to Gallup, 64 percent of Americans now say weed should be made legal. Proponents of marijuana legalization say the plant is safe, has legitimate health benefits and is fun to use recreationally. But prohibitionists say marijuana legalization is bad for society and is not as harmless as supporters suggest. What do you think?
Should marijuana be legalized?
According to Gallup, support for marijuana legalization has steadily increased over the years, reaching a record high of 64 percent as of October 2017.
As of January 1, 2018, marijuana officially became legal in California, though it still remains illegal at the federal level.
Voters paved the way for today in November 2016, with Proposition 64 earning 57% approval. The ballot measure made California one of eight states to approve the sale of cannabis for recreational use. Those 21 and older can purchase and possess up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use and to grow up to six plants in their homes.
Earlier last year, Sen. Corey Booker (D-NJ) introduced legislation that would not only legalize marijuana but also expunge past marijuana-related convictions and "penalize states with racially-disparate arrest or incarceration rates for marijuana-related crimes." According to The Washington Post:
[Booker's bill] would withhold some criminal justice funding from states that haven't legalized marijuana if they exhibit racially disproportionate arrest or incarceration rates. In effect, this would apply to each state in which marijuana is not currently legal: A 2013 ACLU report found that nationwide, blacks were nearly four times as likely to be arrested on marijuana charges as whites, despite similar rates of use of the drug.
Booker's legislation would effectively encourage states to legalize marijuana to avoid these penalties.
While the bill is unlikely to pass in a Republican-controlled Senate, it symbolizes a strong step forward in the fight to legalize marijuana.
But U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has spoken publicly about his opposition to marijuana and marijuana legalization. Studies have shown it is bad for the developing brain, makes rats lazy and has the potential to make mental illnesses worse. Marijuana is also the leading cause of substance dependence after alcohol. It's not harmless. People do abuse marijuana.
Sessions has reportedly been putting pressure on Congress to crack down on marijuana legalization, according to the Los Angeles Times:
What has become known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment constitutes a single paragraph of federal law. It prohibits the Justice Department from spending even a cent to prosecute medical marijuana users and sellers operating legally under state laws. Since its passage, it has largely shut down efforts by federal prosecutors or drug enforcement officials to interfere with otherwise legal sales of marijuana in 29 states and the District of Columbia that have passed legalization measures.
It's true, current drug policy isn't working. But that calls for a new policy, not to throw everything out. The goal should always be to reduce drug use in society, not encourage it. As argued in CNBC:
Reducing marijuana use is essential to improving the nation’s health, education, and productivity. New policies can greatly improve current performance of prevention strategies which, far from failing, has protected millions of people from the many adverse effects of marijuana use.
All of these things make it impossible for some to support marijuana because it comes down to a matter of morals. If you believe marijuana is bad for people, then you cannot allow it to be legal.