OPINION: The case to stop the criminalization of cannabis


Hundreds of Central Michigan University students smoke marijuana every day. Our government would think that’s ridiculous and they should be in jail. What’s ridiculous though is that these students are breaking federal law.

I know what you’re thinking: why should we care?

What I’m talking about is the fact that marijuana is nowhere near legalization on the federal level.

Everyone should know marijuana is federally classified as a Schedule One drug, the same as heroin. A Schedule One classification means three things to the government: One, the drug has a high potential for abuse. Two, it has no currently accepted medical use in treatment. And three, there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug.

All three of these make zero sense, especially because the government doesn’t mark them for alcohol, tobacco and prescription opiates.

Let’s talk about alcohol first: according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 15 million people are alcoholics. The Center for Disease Control states about 100,000 people die from alcohol related causes each year.

How about tobacco? 

Almost 500,000 people die each year due to smoking related causes, per the CDC. I think anyone who has a been a smoker in their lives will tell you that nicotine is addicting.

Even prescription opiate overdoses cause thousands of deaths every year. They are, without a doubt, abused by many.

You must be wondering, are regulations on marijuana the way they are? It’s safer than those three. It’s not a killer like alcohol or tobacco. It can be used medicinally. So why, you must be asking, is it not legalized?

Simply put, because it’s not in our lawmakers’ best interests to do so and money talks.

We deserve to have our lawmakers, who are supposed to be the voice of citizens, push legislation that we want. Such is the case with legalization of marijuana nationally – national support for it has never been higher.

Just this past year, the alcohol industry spent almost $27 million on lobbying efforts, tobacco spent almost $20 million, and pharmaceutical corporations spent a whopping $248 million on influencing politicians to veer their best interests away from that of their delegates and towards the needs of the companies themselves, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Some of that money goes towards making sure the restrictions on marijuana stay as they are for as long as they can.

If it was legal everywhere, like in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts and Alaska, where it is legal, people might drink less. They might not need so many opiates. They might not smoke a cigarette laced with carcinogens. 

Unfortunately, this would hurt big corporation’s bottom line.

How do we fix this and get marijuana legalized federally?

Sadly, I don’t really know.