A Smokey Decision (OPINION)

Illustration by Shane Braden, Patterson Press

By Destiny Diggs

Each year both men and women are arrested for possession of cannabis, also known as marijuana or weed. Are these arrests really worth it for society? Cannabis is the least harmful of all drugs. It can be used to help numb the pain of medical conditions such as many cancers and bone disorders such as multiple sclerosis. The majority of drug dealers today sell cannabis. It is reported that someone is arrested every forty two seconds for marijuana possession: that’s over 750,000 arrests for marijuana and one drug arrest every 21 seconds in the United States.

If cannabis is this common and relatively harmless, why are tax payers paying for prison cell for people possessing this substance?  As money-hungry as America is, you would think they would see this as an opportunity for profit; it would benefit both the government and cannabis users. America could legalize cannabis, give it an age limit and sell it. This would make the drug rate go down, drug dealers would have one less drug to sell and there would be fewer senseless arrests. A Native American doctor apologized for saying no to pot. He claimed that medicinal marijuana helped one of his patients with her nonstop seizures. He says that since she’s started smoking cannabis it has calmed her from having 300 seizures to having only two to three seizures a month.

Just as people abuse opiates, which have medicinal uses, people may abuse medicinal marijuana. But will the use of cannabis ruin your life?  HBO talk show host Bill Maher commented on president Obama smoking during his teen years. He stated, “If anyone can say smoking pot won’t ruin your life, it’s the guy who smoked bales of it and then became the leader of the free world.”

I asked some Maryland residents about their thoughts on whether marijuana should be legalized or not. A concerned parent thinks it should stay illegal. They stated the following: “It’s just a snowball down a slippery slope. Legalizing marijuana will just lead to other dangerous drugs which in turn will lead to more crimes, robberies, and drug use.” Another Maryland resident named Derrick thinks differently, stating “I think it should be legalized; it’s the only recreational drug that calms you down and in some cases it’s healthier.” A Maryland grandparent thinks it should be illegal. This grandparent stated “it should stay illegal: marijuana causes memory loss, flash backs, weight gain–it’s also toxic to the lungs–and death.” An online interviewee stated, “My own thoughts are unclear because of the validity of the arguments on both sides of this question. Personally having spent time in a mental institution where I have met young people mentally affected…by the use of marijuana, it makes me personally err on the side of caution and therefore I do not wish to see marijuana legalized, because a small number of people will be further mentally affected…Thinking about alcohol a similar effect is seen and that some people become alcoholics in need of help. But alcohol is legalized despite this being the case…”  A Maryland resident named Annie thinks it should be legalized. She stated, “Marijuana should be legalized so it can be controlled. In the earlier days marijuana was natural without chemicals. Now so many chemicals are added to marijuana it can hurt individuals. If it is legalized perhaps chemicals will not be added.” These are some of the opinions of Maryland residents.

The United States has tried to make things equal for of its citizens. They regulate this with amendments to the U.S. Constitution. A part of the First Amendment is freedom of religion, meaning that in the United States a person is free to worship according to the beliefs of his or her religion. If this is the case, why aren’t Rastafarians a part of this concept?  Rastafari is a religion that was generated from Jamaica and popularized by Bob Marley, Snoop Dog (Snoop Lion) and Lauren Hill. It has become more popular in the U.S.  but it is not a recognized religion here. Followers of this religion believe that smoking cannabis or “Ganja” will make you closer to God. If this is a part of a person’s religion, should the police have the right to arrest them because they are smoking?  This would contradict what the First Amendment says about freedom of religion.

Cannabis has been proven to help patients with pain and also to relax people. Making it legal will help the crime rate go down and help more people become relaxed.  No one has ever died of a marijuana overdose. If it were legal, the F.D.A. would make sure lists of ingredients are placed on every bag of cannabis sold as well as labels stating the dangers of smoking weed and the effects it may cause.  If weed was legal the government could make money, people wouldn’t get it illegally from drug dealers, and it wouldn’t be laced with so many toxic chemicals. If more people saw how senseless keeping it illegal was and realized how much calmer society would be if it was legalized, there would be less hostility to legalization in the United States.

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