By Dustin Niles
Layout & Design Editor
Pot. Weed. Bud. Grass. Ganja. Dope. Hemp. Mary Jane. Jazz cabbage. The devil’s lettuce.
The debate about it has permeated nearly every aspect of American life, from college campuses to medical research facilities. It’s all around us, and yet it’s supposed to be nowhere.
The story of marijuana starts when it was grown alongside tobacco as a cash crop in colonial times for its ber. Hemp is still used as a textile today. It didn’t catch on as a smokable substance in the U.S. until the 1920’s, when the Prohibition was enacted and “reefer songs” became a trend in the jazz world, which was primarily a genre dominated by black musicians.
Marijuana was listed as having medical uses in the United States Pharmacopeia until 1942, but campaigns in the 30s labeled marijuana as a gateway drug to higher powered narcotics, a tag that still hangs from it.
It was included in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 as a Schedule I drug along with heroin and LSD, meaning it was classified as being very dangerous and having no medical uses.
There are some scary statistics when you look at marijuana. According to drugfreeworld.com, in 2005 there were 242,000 emergency room visits in the U.S. involving marijuana. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 40 percent of all adult males placed under arrest tested positive for marijuana when they were arrested.
These statistics are placed right on drugfreeworld.com, which might be biased in stats relating to drugs.
But according to the Center for Disease Control, no one has ever overdosed on marijuana in the United States. For reference, 30,722 people died from alcohol-induced causes
consume 1,500 pounds of marijuana in 15 minutes in order to overdose on the drug’s active ingredient, THC.
The realization across the nation that weed isn’t as dangerous as it was once considered has gathered public support for the legalization of marijuana.
A poll released by CBS News on April 20 shows that of marijuana while another 21, including New Jersey, have approved medicinal marijuana usage. Despite this, federal regulations still place marijuana as a Schedule I drug, asserting that it has no medicinal uses, despite obvious support within the states for its legalization.
There are obvious reasons for the legalization of in 2014. This is even more than the epidemic of opioids, which killed 28,647 people in 2014.
The Huffington Post cited a 2006 report in American Scientist, which said, “Drinking a mere 10 times the normal amount of alcohol within 5 or 10 minutes can prove fatal, whereas smoking or eating marijuana might require something like 1,000 times the usual dose to cause death.”
According to druglibrary. org, you would have to 61 percent of Americans think marijuana use should be legal. Every year since the poll started being administered in 2011, support for legal marijuana use has grown, and the majority was reached in 2014. More than 60 percent of Americans think marijuana should be legal in every age group except for 65+. 78 percent of Americans aged 18- 34 think marijuana should be legal.
Eight states and Washington, D.C. have legalized the recreational use marijuana. It allows the drug to be regulated, making it safer for end users. It can be taxed, and Colorado has been the recipient of $200 million in tax revenue o of its $1 billion in total marijuana revenue according to MarketWatch.
But as many people have posited, the question shouldn’t be “Why?” but rather “Why not?”
“The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast,” The New York Times said in an editorial that explicitly called for the federal legalization
of marijuana. “There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.”
The ‘War on Drugs’ that has been waged on the American public since the days of Nixon has essentially failed. America is facing one of its worst public heath crises in recent memory with the opioid addiction that is sweeping the nation, despite the fact that funding for drug enforcement is at an all-time high.
Instead of helping to avoid crises like these, they’ve come anyway, with 2,224,400 adults being incarcerated, and 1,249,025 of those being for drug possession. 574,641 of those are for marijuana possession, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. The U.S. has created the highest incarceration rate in the world, but hasn’t avoided the biggest public health crisis in recent memory.
The U.S spends $51 billion on the war on drugs annually. The country would yield $46.7 billion in tax revenue if currently-illegal drugs were taxed at a rate like alcohol and tobacco, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. That’s a net gain of $97.7 billion a year if weed was made legal and taxed. That’s nearly as large as the entire digital video games market, according to CNBC.
So if you like green, you might want to legalize the other kind of green.