Marijuana legalization gaining support: California should emulate other states2 min read

Stephanie Chao, Staff Writer

It is no secret the question of marijuana legalization is stirring up controversy.

Colorado and Washington completely legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes in ballot initiatives last November. California should take notice and follow suit.

Marijuana has been clinically proven to have many medicinal benefits for a myriad of illnesses and disorders, ranging from anxiety to treating certain symptoms of AIDS and cancer, according to the California Department of Public Health.

According to a Harvard Health publication, medical marijuana has been shown to work as a reducer of anxiety, improver of mood and sedative. California Proposition 215, which was officially enforced statewide in 1996, was the first proposition to effectively legalize marijuana for medical purposes.

Although there is much debate about the supposed healing properties of marijuana, there are many positive aspects about legalization commonly overlooked.

The White House website claims the price of marijuana would be lowered if it were legalized, thus losing money for the state. However, taxes and other fees would raise much needed revenue. In 2009, the City of Oakland was the first city to impose a tax on all marijuana dispensaries, potentially bringing in $300,000, according to Christian Science Monitor.

Other cities have followed suit. San Jose city officials unanimously voted to increase Marijuana Business Taxes from 7 percent to 10 percent. The increase is expected to bring in an estimated $1.4 million in additional revenue, for a total of about $5.4 million, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

If marijuana was legal, prisons would be less crowded, since most drug-related violations are related to various marijuana offenses. In a 2012 FBI survey for Drug Abuse Violations, possession made up 82.2 percent of all drug-related arrests, of which 42.4 percent were related to marijuana.

A 2010 study conducted by Jeffrey Minon, a senior lecturer at Harvard University, found marijuana prohibition costs the United States government as much as $20 billion per year. The billions of dollars wasted on marijuana prohibition would be better spent on funding more valuable public interests, such as education.

Another popular anti-marijuana argument is the “gateway drug theory,” which reasons most marijuana users will be more likely to try harder drugs, such as heroin. However, a 2010 study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior disputes those claims, citing socioeconomic status and stress factors as more predictive of hard drug use.

Although there are risk factors associated with marijuana, the positive benefits far outnumber the negative as evidenced time and time again. What are state officials waiting for? Legalize California.

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