The Benefits of Legalizing Marijuana

By: Onyx Hall, Contributor

Recreational marijuana use causes substantial controversy. In recent years, many states have begun legalizing marijuana. It is fully legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, D.C., Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. States like California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Nevada have dispensaries where the government keeps strict regulations on who can purchase and who can sell marijuana. Plenty of other states are  considering it seeing as some have legalized it for medicinal purposes and some have legalized it as well as passed less stricter laws on recreational marijuana use. Marijuana has been seen as a gateway drug for so many years and people tend to associate it as an introduction to much harder substances such as cocaine, heroin, meth, etc. In recent years, this notion has come into question because marijuana has proven to have beneficial medicinal properties. Studies have shown that it has been proven to help symptoms of illnesses like cancer, epilepsy, and seizures. 

I believe the real problem in question is why tobacco is legal and marijuana is not in some places. Tobacco is a legalized substance that has been proven to cause lung and mouth cancer, especially when used over a long period . This is normally the case because of the addictive properties of nicotine in tobacco. Even more important to consider is the danger of the normalization of Juul pods and vaping which has become popular among younger audiences. Some have even tried synthetic marijuana, also known as K2 or spice, which has caused problems due to the manufactured chemicals used to make it. 

In 2018, National Public Radio reported that over 70 people overdosed on this synthetic marijuana in New Haven, Connecticut and the month earlier there was a similar overdose epidemic in Washington, D.C. where over 300 people overdosed. The most sizable problem with K2 is that it is made up of legalized deadly chemicals that make it hard for first responders and doctors to properly assess and save the life of the person who has overdosed. It seems that the most prominent thing taking lives are these products that are legal across the country, not marijuana. 

I believe substances that have been scientifically proven to cause dire illnesses such as cancer should not be legalized and if it is to be legalized then so should marijuana. This fact alone calls into question the ethics of the government when they have more than enough knowledge on the topic. Not only do they know what marijuana can do for those in pain, but they are also aware of the dangers of tobacco. If marijuana is to be legalized it should be treated like alcohol and regulated by dispensaries along with making 21 the legal age for recreational use. Legalizing marijuana would also help people, especially African Americans and Hispanics, to stay out of jail and face unnecessarily long prison sentences for simple possession charges. Ideally, legalization would help those serving prison sentences already as their crime would no longer be illegal. 

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