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COLUMN: Marijuana should be legalized, vote to make it happen


andrew

 As someone who has never tried marijuana, and doesn’t plan to, I can say with full certainty that it should be fully legalized for recreational use.

Despite having no interest in using marijuana, I feel it’s time for recreational use to be legalized-- state and nationwide. 

Why should I care what adults do in their spare time, simply because I don’t care for it? And when it’s compared to certain substances, why shouldn’t it be legalized? It’s just common sense.

Hopefully, that common sense will soon come to Michigan. On Nov. 6, voters will be able to decide whether recreational use of marijuana should be legal for people over the age of 21. If it passes, it will be long overdue.

Marijuana has been wrongfully demonized for decades. It's time for that to end and for the facts to speaks for themselves.

First of all, marijuana is relatively a safe drug. It’s not chemically addictive (unlike legal cigarettes), and use of it alone has never caused death. In fact, studies show that people who smoke pot have similar lifespans with those who don’t. And of course, marijuana has many potential medical uses, such as treating chronic pain, epilepsy, anxiety, and depression, according to an article in Medical News Today.

On the other hand, 6 people die everyday in America from alcohol poisoning according to the Centers for Disease Control. 

That doesn't mean marijuana is harmless. Marijuana may have links to respiratory diseases and may impair teen’s attention and learning abilities. Like most things in life, marijuana use has pros and cons. I think it's reasonable to let responsible adults weigh those for themselves.

Legalization of marijuana could generate a lot of tax money for the state of Michigan. According to CNN, Colorado has already made $506 million since legalizing recreational sales in 2014. Michigan has already made $633 million from medical marijuana sales, according to Forbes. Our state is in desperate need of infrastructure repair, and school funding for Detroit. This could be a terrific, and much needed, source of income for the state.

If it’s a relatively safe drug, and could make the state a lot of tax money, why is it still illegal? 

The answer to that question can be traced back to the early 1900s. Mexican immigration was on the rise, and with them, arrived marijuana.

This also began the vilification of marijuana. According to DrugPolicy.org, people began associating marijuana with Mexicans, which lead to arguments being made in Congress that claimed marijuana causes violence (which has been disproven several times since then).

Perhaps even more sinister is the motivations for the War on Drugs. One 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, and African Americans. In an old interview of this adviser, he said the Nixon administration knew that by linking these groups to drugs, they could arrest and demonize their political enemies.

That has certainly been the case. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, nationwide blacks are almost 4 time as likely to be arrested for marijuana, even though black and white people use the drug at around the same rate. In Michigan, black people are 3 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana than white people.

I think it’s very clear at this point that marijuana has no reason to be illegal at this point. 

Most of the country agrees with me — according to Pew Research Center, 61 percent of people in both Michigan and the country think marijuana should be legal for recreational use.

If you want recreational marijuana to be legalized, go vote this November.  Make common sense win in this case.

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