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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Eagle

Quick Take: Should the federal government legalize pot?

Texas Governor Rick Perry recently voiced his support for the decriminalization of marijuana, saying that states should be allowed to decide for themselves whether or not to legalize the drug. Now that the case for legalization has notable proponents on both sides of the aisle, do you feel that marijuana should be decriminalized or even legalized? And should that be the federal government’s responsibility or the states?

Fighting inevitable demand for marijuana is a losing battle
by Katlyn Hirokawa

The war against marijuana is a lost cause. The economic truth is that as long as American citizens demand marijuana, someone somewhere will supply it. Our country cannot change the demand for marijuana with the current legal barriers in place. But if the U.S. legalizes marijuana then the demand for it will naturally decrease.

This is a realistic solution, demonstrated in countries like Portugal where legislators successfully combated the high rate of marijuana use. After Portugal decriminalized marijuana, numbers fell to just 10 percent of people who use marijuana over the age of 15, compared to America’s almost 40 percent of people who use marijuana over the age of 12.

As we saw with alcohol, prohibition does not work. Alcohol is legalized, which directly causes the highest amount of drug related deaths per year. Marijuana use has never directly caused a death. There is no way to truly regulate marijuana use because people are going to find a way to get it somehow. That was the same scenario during the prohibition era.

Punishments given for marijuana use and possession also do not make sense. Our prisons are overcrowded because of these laws. Taxpayer dollars are wasted funding prison related costs of these “criminals.”

Some people think that if we legalize marijuana, young people will go crazy. I do think there should be an age limit on buying marijuana if legalized, as is the case for buying cigarettes. But the reality is that legal or illegal, anyone who wants to consume marijuana is going to find a supply that meets their demand. Legalizing marijuana is really just the logical thing to do since the war we have against it now is a losing battle.

Katlyn Hirokawa is a freshman in the School of Communication

Marijuana should be federally decriminalized
by Michelle Sindyukov

Imagine the following situation: you are from New York and you decide to take a roadtrip to Pennsylvania. Before you leave, you buy candy that is legal to possess in New York, but not Pennsylvania. You leave New York and after a few days, you’re in Pennsylvania with your candy. You technically broke the law because you crossed the border of your state with a product that is legal in your state, but not another. It seems quite ridiculous, but this is America’s current policy on marijuana possession.

Weed is already legalized in certain states, but without regulated state borders transportation of the drug across state lines is impossible to control. Marijuana is a product that can be easily transported. The only real problem is its legality. So, won’t it be logical for the whole country to unitarily make it either legal or illegal?

The best solution would be to make weed legal for everyone above the age of 18. At that age people should be able to make their own decisions. Cigarettes are extremely harmful and they are legal, so why should weed be illegal? Why are other addictive, dangerous substances available to the public when marijuana isn’t?

Recently, Rick Perry said that states should decide for themselves whether to legalize marijuana or not. I disagree with him. Having each state pick their own rules would be a very long process and as more states legalize the drug it becomes harder to avoid marijuana in the neighboring states.

In the end, one thing is clear: marijuana should definitely be decriminalized. Too many people are in jail for using it once or twice and not harming anyone. The fact that they are in jail is related to the taxpayers, whose money is used to fund their stay. There are already places where marijuana is legal. It is spreading around the country faster and faster. Therefore, it is easier to just make it completely legal and let people make their own choices.

Michelle Sindyukov is a freshman in the School of Communication

The economics of legalizing pot
by Boot Bullwinkle

The negative reputation of marijuana continues to fade away as the public becomes more educated about not only its medicinal effects, but also its economic effects. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the latest high profile politician to voice his support for decriminalizing the drug. While Perry wouldn’t go so far as to voice his support for full legalization, he did support the right of states to make that decision for themselves.

Perry’s comments aren’t completely out of the blue; there has been an enormous body of research that’s changed the perception of marijuana in recent years. According to the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, medical marijuana has been shown to alleviate pain, nausea and symptoms of mental health issues.

Regardless of these medicinal benefits that are backed by years of research and peer-reviewed studies, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) still considers marijuana a Schedule I substance, which is defined as having no medical use and a high risk for abuse. This seems completely outlandish when drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine are still considered less severe Schedule II drugs by the DEA.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 9 percent of marijuana users become addicted when they use it daily and there are a few noted long term side effects when abused frequently. But in comparison to alcohol, a legal substance that is properly regulated in the U.S., marijuana isn’t nearly as harmful.

While there is still room for debate regarding the health effects of marijuana, there is no doubt that the economic ramifications of making marijuana illegal are detrimental to society. Using a study that has been endorsed by more than 500 economists that estimated the economic implications of legalizing marijuana, adjusting for inflation using the Consumer Price Index index for tobacco and alcohol, California alone would save around $1.5 billion from legalizing marijuana. Additionally, the U.S. has the highest rate of incarceration the world and the prison system continues to be a large financial burden on many states. Marijuana continues to be a large contributor to that problem as 749,285 people were arrested for a marijuana law violation in 2012.

In addition to avoiding another loss of 70,000 lives since 2006 as a result of the Mexican drug war, the government should legalize marijuana to avoid economic and medical losses. Prohibition didn’t work with alcohol, and it isn’t working with marijuana. It’s time for the federal government to legalize and regulate the drug so society can begin to benefit as a whole.

Boot Bullwinkle is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences.

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