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The Blue & Gray Press | March 26, 2019

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Staff Ed: New act gives those convicted of marijuana possession a clean slate, reduces incarceration

Staff Ed: New act gives those convicted of marijuana possession a clean slate, reduces incarceration

By THE BLUE AND GRAY PRESS EDITORIAL BOARD

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and presidential hopeful is under fire after admitting she has smoked marijuana.

On Feb. 11, Harris shared her story with the hosts of the “The Breakfast Club” radio show of a time she smoked marijuana in college. Feeds on all social platforms flooded with debates over Harris and her controversial conversation. Some users have asked if she is lying about her experience; others have demanded to know if she was a prosecutor at the time she smoked. 

On a federal level, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug with a “high potential for abuse.” Other drugs which fall under this category are heroin, ecstasy and peyote. First and foremost, it is not fair to compare marijuana to these life-threatening drugs.

Cigarettes are legal for purchase at age of 18 and are readily available just about anywhere. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day.

However, Harris supports a bill introduced by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), The Marijuana Justice Act.The bill would remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances and expunge the records of those convicted of marijuana use or possession. 

Harris said, “we need to research the impact of weed on a developing brain” and said measuring how marijuana impairs driving needs to be addressed.

Cannabis in the medical field is something that few can argue with, as it is known to help patients with PTSD, epilepsy, cancer and multiple sclerosis. Marijuana has also proven to be economically beneficial and has created jobs. According to an article on money.cnn.com, the marijuana industry employed 121,000 people in the year 2017.

The Blue and Gray Press supports The Marijuana Justice Act and research into the effects of marijuana. More and more politicians, both Republican and Democratic, are supporting the legalization of marijuana, and we must support officials such as Harris and Booker that will enact change. While not all the negative effects of marijuana are known, it should not be considered in the same class of addictive and overdose-prone drugs like heroin, especially when it has been known to have medicinal properties. We need to do more research rather than using fear-mongering tactics and incarcerating its users. Government support leads to government funding, and more studies can release discoveries of the countless benefits of marijuana usage.

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