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Taylor’s Top 10 – Reasons to consider legalizing marijuana

Story by Taylor Shuck, Editor

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In recent weeks, a high (pun intended) number of American’s have agreed that marijuana use should be legal in the United States. According to an October Gallup poll, 58 percent of Americans believe the rest of the country should follow Colorado and Washington and legalize the drug. Collectively, Denver shop owners said they sold about $1 million in the first 24 hours after legalization, which is promising for the future of drug sales.

While I know legalizing marijuana can be a controversial subject, it should be addressed. I’ve collected a list of 10 reasons why we should consider policy changes.

1. We could be making money

By legalizing marijuana, the government can tax it and bring in substantial revenue. In turn, that money could be used to pay for more important issues. Also, America’s “War on Drugs” is expensive. Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron found the prohibition on marijuana cost the government an estimated $20 billion in 2013. NASA was allocated $17.7 billion, if that puts anything into perspective.

2. It’s safer than tobacco

Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, reports that only 9-10 percent of marijuana users are dependent on the drug, while more than 30 percent of cigarette smokers are addicted to its toxic chemicals. Tobacco also accounts for nearly one in every five deaths each year in the United States.

3. It’s also safer than alcohol

According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control, alcohol plays a role in about 75,000 deaths per year. If alcohol is legal in the United States, what’s wrong with marijuana?

4. It’s not hard to buy anyway

Honestly, it’s probably easier for teenagers to buy marijuana than alcohol. Drug dealers don’t care about age or showing identification; they will provide their service to anyone with cash in hand. By making it legal, the government would be able to put restrictions and limitations on the drug, which could be properly and fairly enforced.

5. Some religions utilize the drug

Some religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Rastafarian use the drug as a part of their religious ceremonies. The regulation of the drug makes it difficult for some to keep practicing their religion in the way they see fit.

6. It is a known and effective medicine

The drug is an effective way to relieve nausea, especially in cancer patients who suffer from chemotherapy. It also helps with loss of appetite due to HIV or AIDS and relaxes muscle tension, spasms and chronic pain.

7. People deserve the freedom to choose

It isn’t fair that everyone is punished for others’ abuse of marijuana. Not to get too philosophical, but people should have the right to choose if they want to smoke. By making it illegal, it takes away the right to choose. Not everyone will abuse the drug, and it isn’t fair to keep a potentially harmless drug away from people.

8. It. Is. Not. A. Gateway. Drug.

As Scientific American reports, many drug users have tried marijuana at some point in their lives. However, this is correlation to the use and abuse of other drugs and not causation. In an article in the Journal of School Health, seniors in high school were studied to find the correlation between alcohol and drug use. It found that “alcohol represented the “gateway” drug, leading to the use of tobacco, marijuana, and other illicit substances,” which seems to prove that marijuana is not the actual problem. Another study done at Missouri Western State University found that marijuana use is also correlated to the use of alcohol, showing that 100 percent of the participants in the study who smoked marijuana also drank alcohol.

9. It’s also a “war on the poor”

In an interview with the New Yorker, President Obama said that “it’s important for it to go forward (with legalizing marijuana) because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.” For the most part, middle class Americans are not punished for their recreational drug use, while minorities are. The American Civil Liberties Union found that minorities are incarcerated four times more than whites for marijuana use, and in some of our fellow Midwestern states, the rate is eight times higher for minorities.

10. It’s natural

If it looks like a plant, grows like a plant and smells like a plant, it must be a plant, right? Marijuana grows naturally and can be found in many parts of the world. Making something that was already found on this earth illegal is like saying we can’t smell roses when we walk past them or that we can’t pick peaches off the tree.