EDITORIAL: Vote to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan
It's up to Michigan residents to decide whether recreational marijuana should be legal in the state during the Nov. 6 general election.
Proposal 1, one of three proposals on Michigan's ballot this year, would legalize recreational marijuana use for those who are 21 years of age and older. The proposition would allow residents to have up to 2.5 ounces of weed and 15 grams of concentrate. It also allows up to 12 plants and 10 ounces per household.
The proposition to legalize recreational marijuana made it onto the ballot after it received 252,523 petition signatures earlier this year. It has strong support from Michigan residents. Legalization could greatly benefit the state and all of its residents.
Almost right away, legalization would help to improve Michigan's economy. Colorado has made $506 million in revenue since recreational sales began in 2014, according to CNN.
Marijuana would face a 10 percent sales tax on top of the 6 percent state sales tax, and the revenue from the tax would be split several ways. Thirty-five percent of revenue would go to K-12 education, 35 percent to roads, 15 percent to communities that allow marijuana and 15 percent to counties where the marijuana business was located.
It's not a secret that a lot of people smoke weed recreationally, despite it being illegal. Right now, the state isn't making any money off of that whatsoever. If recreational marijuana were legalized, the state could capitalize on something that is already happening and use the money to better our schools, roads and communities.
Despite the possible legalization, employers would still be allowed to fire or refuse to hire those who test positive for marijuana. Landlords could also prohibit renters from smoking marijuana on their property. Smoking marijuana would still be banned in public places, including parks and public universities like Central Michigan University.
However, legalization would mean that Michigan residents, particularly college-aged residents, would no longer have to worry about the possibility of getting arrested for simply smoking or possessing a joint.
In 2016, 23,429 people were arrested in Michigan for marijuana charges, according to the FBI Crime in the United States 2016 report. Eighty-seven percent of arrests were for possession and 13 percent were for sales/distribution. Eighty-two percent of those arrests were stand-alone events and only involve a single arrest record, which means many people's lives and records have been permanently damaged because of using marijuana illegally.
There is no logical reason for marijuana use to be illegal. It's not chemically addictive, unlike cigarettes, which are legal. Marijuana has never caused a death, but six Americans die from alcohol poisoning everyday, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Unlike tobacco and alcohol, marijuana has some health benefits, which is why medicinal use was legalized in Michigan.
Why is recreational use still illegal? The War on Drugs under President Richard Nixon's administration is largely to blame. When it began, one of Nixon's advisers at the time said that the real reason for starting the War on Drugs wasn’t for public health, but was meant to target the anti-war left, particularly African Americans.
That's certainly proven to be the case.
Black people are 3.3 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white people in Michigan. In 2010, 141 white people were arrested for marijuana charges, as opposed to the 464 black people arrested for the same charges. That is unacceptable. Legalizing recreational marijuana would be a huge step towards eliminating racial disparity in Michigan.
Recreational marijuana legalization seems like common sense to the majority of Americans. More than 60 percent of Americans and Michiganders support legalization, according the Pew Research Center.
If you also believe it's time marijuana should be legalized, this is your chance to make your opinion heard. Go to the polls on Nov. 6. Vote to pass Proposal 1 and legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan.