By JOSEPH LANGLEY
For decades, people have allowed stereotypes to falsely inform their opinion on marijuana. A natural substance that is known to relax the body for medicinal purposes, marijuana is simply a drug that promotes hunger, sleep and relaxation. Cannabis is already legal in numerous states in the U.S. and the process of legalization has continued to increase on a country-wide scale. There are more pros to legalization than cons, and with that, states and their legislatures must recognize the drugs benefits and take the step many other states have already.
During the past Midterm Elections, three states legalized marijuana usage. Full legalization, recreational and medicinal, won in the state of Michigan, along with medical legalization in the states of Utah and Missouri. Currently, 23 states have solely legalized medical marijuana. 10 of those states have also legalized the recreational weed, amongst them being the District of Columbia, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, Vermont and of course the recently passed legalization, Michigan.
While not all states have passed legalization to be used recreationally, the 23 states acknowledge the health advantages behind the legalization of marijuana in medicinal terms.
Junior and communications major Alex Caldas advocates for the legalization of marijuana. “I believe it should be legalized due to the fact that is a great way for cancer patients to get off opioids and use medical marijuana as a substitute painkiller,” said Caldas.
Caldas is right. The 2016 National Study on Drug Use and Health reported that in 2016, more than 46 people died each day from overdoses involving prescription opioids. Doctors are legally prescribing addictive painkillers to patients on a daily basis, though people still are against the idea of medical marijuana.
“My uncle uses CBD oil for his knee. I personally have seen the effects that the injury has taken on him, and the fact that he can use a safer and more natural substance such as CBD comforts me,” said Caldas.
A study from drugabuse.org states that every day, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. That statistic alone should concern every American. This should convince those who continue to look down on marijuana that it is an excellent substitute for painkillers, as it is saddening that more serious substances that are intended for aiding patients, are actually causing their deaths.
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.
More and more politicians, both Republican and Democratic, are supporting the legalization of marijuana. Even in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., cannabis is legal for people 21+ on their private property. The state of Virginia, however, has yet to make much progress. In a 2017 article from the Loudoun Times, Republican Delegate Randy Minchew is quoted to have said, “I do not support legalizing marijuana for recreational use. I don’t believe it is, at this juncture appropriate to allow for another recreational narcotic to enter the Virginia mainstream.”
On a federal level, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug with a “high potential for abuse,” along with heroin, ecstasy, and peyote. It is not fair to compare marijuana to these life-threatening drugs. Yet drugs like cigarettes and alcohol are legal and readily available at any convenience store. According to the Centers 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. Yet, smoking marijuana is still equated with more dangerous drugs.
Economically, states that have passed recreational marijuana laws are thriving. For the states that have already legalized it, the profit of marijuana has led to more funding for educational and infrastructural purposes. Those states also automatically get more job opportunities for its residents. According to an article on money.cnn.com, the marijuana industry employed 121,000 people in the year 2017.
These statistics prove that the marijuana business is a moneymaker, and legally it is only continuing to increase value. You simply can’t argue with that logic.
The substance has already flooded through the country as a whole. Stopping this “recreational narcotic” from entering the “Virginia mainstream” is impossible, as it’s already flooded the streets. Legalizing marijuana would decrease the amount of illegal sales, as civilians would then take action to legally be permitted to purchase cannabis.
Marijuana has not yet been proven to be physically addictive, though it has proven its advantages in several other aspects. Serving those in need medically, creating jobs and reducing drug violence and addiction are all values that any state would benefit from. We must continue to support the legalization of marijuana. Government support leads to government funding, and more studies can release discoveries of the countless benefits of marijuana usage. It’s time for the country to make a move that would ultimately benefit its society.