To weed or not to weed

Legalization of marijuana has more benefits than ill effects


Smoking cigarettes causes more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, according to the CDC. Alcohol-related incidents cause around 88,000 per year, and opioid painkillers lead to around 47,000. Meanwhile, smoking marijuana bud has never resulted in a fatal overdose, according to Drug Rehab. The problem is that tobacco, alcohol and opioids, substances proven to be highly dangerous and lethal, are all legal while marijuana is still a hotbed of controversy.

While 10 states, including Illinois and Michigan, have legalized recreational marijuana, the 40 other states have remained anti-legalization. The federal government should legalize recreational marijuana for citizens of the age of 21 or older because there isn’t a solid reasoning to ban marijuana on the basis that it’s too dangerous when other substances that are more harmful remain legal with regulation.

I’m sure that many students in high school have heard that marijuana is bad because it’s a gateway drug. This might be true, but marijuana itself isn’t the issue. Addictive hard drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine are what kill and harm people. Marijuana use doesn’t always directly put the user in harm, whereas those more extreme drugs are a danger to users and anyone around every time they are used. Fatal overdoses from marijuana use are unlikely according to the CDC, and the effects are much safer.

According to WebMD, smoking marijuana releases a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine causes feelings of euphoria and relaxation. When under the influence of marijuana, users will often just relax and sit down and stay in a lethargic state, without hurting anyone. It’s not all perfect though as it is possible to consume too much marijuana, which can lead to a state of increased paranoia or anxiety among other effects, according to the CDC. However, this seems better than the effects of alcohol, which can cause serious damage to the brain, heart and liver. Alcohol has also been known to be very addictive. According to the Washington Post, one in eight adults in the United States meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder. However, one in 10 marijuana users meet the criteria for marijuana use disorder. Another concern about legalization is how would dispensaries work and how safe are they?

State governments issue licenses to qualified dispensaries in order for them to conduct business. California also keeps a database of all licensed dispensaries so citizens can research their local dispensary. Other states could model this and require dispensaries to keep their licenses on display. To acquire a license, business owners have to meet certain legal and safety criteria to ensure their ability to responsibly dispense safe marijuana.

If the federal government truly believes in giving its people the freedoms it deserves, it needs to legalize recreational marijuana. The American people have begun to see the benefits of legalization and 11 states have acted, but this isn’t enough. It’s time for the rest of the nation to make change.