The voice of De Anza since 1967.

Benefits outweigh risk of legal weed

June 13, 2016


The smoke clears, the coughing subsides, your eyes readjust and there he is: a cop. But instead of giving you a hard time, he gives you a quick lecture, a “Stay out of trouble,” and for whatever reason, he lets you go.

Maybe he saw the innocence in your eyes. Maybe he was a former marijuana user himself. Or maybe a good whiff of your Grade A had him feeling friendly.

The general consensus among those who’ve had similar brushes with law enforcement is that cops, for the most part, think smoking weed is harmless. So why isn’t it legal yet?

California is one of 20 states to have legalized medical marijuana, but so far recreational use is only legal in Colorado, Washington state, Oregon, Alaska and Washington D.C.

Washington generated more than $83 million in taxes following legalization and Colorado experienced a massive decline in unemployment according to the state’s Department of Labor and Employment.

According to the Colorado Department of Education, taxes from legalized marijuana has already contributed over $15 million to the Building Excellent Schools Today program, also known as BEST.

While obtaining a medical marijuana card in California is ridiculously easy, the state is missing out on the additional revenue and economic benefits that come from legalizing recreational use. If California follows the pattern of Colorado and Washington state, legalization could bring in significant tax revenues, decrease unemployment, and prevent unnecessary strain on the legal system from drug arrests. The remaining resistance to legalization, then, is quite possibly due to the stigma surrounding recreational smoking. However, many are simply ignorant of why young people choose to smoke in the first place.

Recreational use is common among college students and the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study found that regular usage is on the rise. In 2014, 5.9 percent of students, or one in every 17 students in the United States, admitted to smoking marijuana regularly.

College students smoke for various reasons. For one, sleep deprivation plagues many college students and it can be worse for students with sleep disorders, such as insomnia, who can’t utilize the little time they have to sleep.

For hardcore insomniacs immune to melatonin, indica serves as an alternative to sleeping pills, which have a long history of abuse and addiction. Indica is a strain of marijuana famous for its sedative effect.

Studies have shown that marijuana also helps to alleviate pain, headaches, anxiety and depression.

However, there’s much speculation, with very little research, about the long-term effects of marijuana use because it’s classified as a Schedule I drug and it’s hard for researchers to obtain and perform tests on it.

What’s clear is that it isn’t as dangerous as some other legal substances, such as tobacco and alcohol, and its medicinal properties can even help improve mental and physical health.

With so many benefits to legalizing recreational marijuana use, it’s only a matter of time before California follows. In fact, there are currently at least seven measures in regards to weed legalization, but two have failed, according to Ballotpedia. On Nov. 8 one of these will likely be voted on in the California ballot, and ought to succeed.

According to a report released by the Marijuana Policy Project in 2015, violent crime rates in both Colorado and Washington fell after legalization. Whether this is due to stricter law enforcement or lazier criminals is unclear.

Overall, misdemeanor cases have dramatically decreased. And when less misdemeanor cases get filed, it allows your friendly neighborhood cop to focus on combatting more serious crimes, instead of on you.

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