Should Washington legalize marijuana?

 

K.C. Clayton
Reporter

Medical marijuana is legal in Washington, Alaska, California, Colorado and 13 other states. This November, Washington has the opportunity to become the first state to legalize marijuana with Initiative 502, which would allow the possession of cannabis by people 21 or older.

A small proportion of marijuana users complain that the initiative is not “perfect” enough and are not going to support it, but many others support the initiative. They say people are going to do smoke marijuana no matter what, so why make it illegal and spend billions of dollars a year putting and keeping people in jail?

According to government surveys, 25 million Americans have smoked marijuana in the past year, with 14 million admitting to marijuana use on a regular basis. As of now, as reported by state surveys, 57 percent of Washington residents said they plan on voting yes.

America has a long association with marijuana.

Up until 1937, marijuana was sold at grocery stores and cigarette stands. Hemp was widely used as a fiber source to make products such as rope, clothing and even paper in the early days of our country. The big petrochemical lobby and William Randolf Hearst conspired to make one of the greatest American industries illegal because of the rising competition of marijuana products.

Even George Washington said, “make the most of hemp seed… sow it every day.” But nevertheless, marijuana soon became a violation of both state and federal laws. Congress and law enforcement officers began to associate marijuana use with criminal activity, further stigmatizing the once profitable industry. As a result, medical research on the drug was restricted.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports scientists have confirmed that cannabis contains ingredients therapeutic for relieving pain, controlling nausea, stimulating appetite and decreasing ocular pressure. The major effect of marijuana is on the brain, causing distorted perceptions, impaired coordination and difficulty with thinking and problem solving. A recent study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed no positive associations between marijuana use and lung, upper respiratory or upper digestive tract cancers.

In comparison, legal tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death, killing more than 5 million people worldwide every year, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control. The World Health Organization reports that the harmful use of legal alcohol results in 2.5 million deaths per year. Whereas illegal marijuana use is only known to cause diminished aspiration. Heck, and the really dangerous drug is?

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost

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Should Washington legalize marijuana?

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