By Sarah Eckrich
November 8, 2012
On Tuesday, history was made.
While some may claim the apocalypse is imminent, the truth is, change is officially here. Voters in Maine, Maryland, and Washington passed gay marriage initiatives. In Minnesota, an amendment to the state constitution banning same sex marriage was struck down. Wisconsin elected the nation’s first openly gay US Senator—and Washington and Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
In Washington, Initiative 502 carries stringent provisions. Marijuana will be regulated like alcohol, including laws establishing legal limits for driving. Use is permitted only by people 21+ years of age, while private growth and distribution remain illegal without a license. Anyone wishing to sell or grow must get clearance, just like manufacturers of alcohol. Taxes will be collected on the wholesale of the plant and will go directly to health care and substance abuse prevention and education programs.
In Colorado, a similar law was passed. More liberal than Washington’s new law, Colorado’s Amendment 64 will now allow any adult 21 and older to grow up to six mature plants in a locked space, and gift up to one ounce to fellow citizens. Because it would interfere with the state’s ability to tax, private sale is still prohibited. The first $40 million collected annually from taxes will go to public education with the remainder going into the state’s general fund. Again, legal limits will be set to ensure no one can drive under the influence and endanger the public.
These explicit laws not only protect the public, but also benefit them by taxing marijuana users. In an age where we openly accept alcohol—which can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, alcoholism, violent crimes, and a staggering number of fatal accidents—and tobacco, which is likewise addictive and proven to cause cancer, it seems frivolous to cling to the belief that marijuana is bad. No one in history has ever died from its use, and in fact, studies show that cannabis has many medical benefits, like neutralizing free radicals that can lead to cell mutations, such as cancer.
It relieves pain and nausea with far less toxicity than prescription drugs, which are responsible for roughly 100,000 deaths worldwide annually. It’s also been shown to slow growths in the brain that lead to Alzheimer’s disease and to relieve ocular pressure associated with glaucoma, as well as reverse deterioration.
Moreover, what’s so bad about getting the munchies?
After all, when people get hungry, they spend money on food, stimulating our economy.
With bridges and roadways falling into disrepair, and both public and higher education taking hits, this commonwealth, and this nation, need an answer, and marijuana just might be it. Possessing none of the dangers of many widely accepted vices today, marijuana should not been seen as a problem for American. Prohibition of the green stuff is now totally antiquated.
This year’s election has shown that the people of this great nation are ready for progress and change. I can find no good reasons to fight the flow.
Sarah is a sophomore majoring in English Writing and minoring in Environmental Studies. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.