Saturday, November 12, 2016

Legalize(d) It!

Legalize it! As many potheads and “regular” Californians alike know, weed is about to be legalized thanks to proposition 64[1]. Rightfully so. The legalization of government regulated and taxed recreational cannabis will bring unprecedented benefits and at this point, there just isn’t any conceivable reason for weed to remain illegal.

Growing up, it was commonplace to see places getting busted for marijuana sales on the news. Clinics got raided and trashed just because a plant near impossible to “overdose” on was illegal at the time. Scenarios like this of course, inadvertently led to a black market for marijuana, implicating millions and encouraging an unwanted and unnecessary drug war against weed-smuggling and selling cartels. Clearly, legalizing recreational and government regulated cannabis would reduce these occurrences and provide other benefits for the state of California as a whole.

First of all, let us not ignore the fact that proposition 64 would impose state taxes on commercial cultivation and sales that could eventually raise more than one billion dollars a year (1). This added state revenue will be pumped into environmental rehabilitation programs as well as law enforcement programs and educating younger generations on drugs.

Though on paper all these programs sound good already, we have to take steps to make sure these programs “do it right”. Children, when being taught about drugs and other substances, should be told the objective realities of drug usage, emphasizing a “use responsibly” mentality instead of simply painting a bad picture of drugs/users overall. Educate, don’t over-regulate. Focus on harm reduction instead of brainwashing that these types of things are inherently bad to begin with.

Also, it is essential that we make sure these programs actually fix the damage that has been done by the illicit marijuana trade. The money made off taxed recreational cannabis better not just end up in a politician’s pocket, or should I say “private charity”.

Money made off the sales and taxations of legalized pot should ideally be put towards programs that enrich former illegal grow sites and rehabilitate prisoners who were formerly incarcerated for petty marijuana crimes. It should be restorative and revitalizing and the money shouldn’t go straight to some big-wig corporations.

Secondly, along with legalization, we should make sure that the buying/consuming age is continually set at 21. Though obviously not foolproof like we have seen with underage alcohol use, this will be our best bet at discouraging our youths from over indulging—as the general consensus is that our brains are still developing into our early 20’s. Legalize it, but ensure the safety of the public and the younger generation.

Start programs that raise awareness about its possible downsides and make sure people know what is at risk when they smoke weed. Though it can undoubtedly be great, make sure users are aware of possible drawbacks.

I do not want weed becoming the next tobacco. Even if I am a staunch proponent of legalizing recreational cannabis, the additional revenue in brings to the state should also be invested into public health and research should continuously be done on marijuana in order to better understand and implement its potential in medicine. The last thing I want is the government to use all the extra cash to sprinkle harmful additives on weed to get people hooked and die or deliberately sell bad-quality strains in order to milk profits.

Thirdly, proposition 64 would finally put the nail in the coffin in the illegal marijuana trade. It would no longer make financial sense to drug dealers and cartels to invest time and resources on smuggling marijuana. Just think of a place where people don’t have to get into someone’s questionable vehicle to trade money for marijuana. It will make the streets safer and an end to marijuana prohibition would make the whole process of buying weed safer for all parties involved.

To add onto this, police officers wouldn’t have to worry about busting random potheads in their cars who might be armed and willing to put up a fight against the cops.

Stop looking at weed like it’s heroin or some other actually harmful “hard drug”. We should welcome this change and be proud of our state’s progression. It’ll add much needed revenue we can put towards resource management and helpful social programs. Instead of being afraid to legalize it and continuing to postpone its inevitable passage, we should see the economic and social benefits marijuana legalization can bring to our state. Hopefully, proposition 64 starts a trend and more states pass similar measures.



  1. I'm happy about this legislature as much as you are. However, I'm cautious about the time between its legalization and the research on marijuana's effects when someone is operating a vehicle. While it is impossible to overdose and historically weed has never killed anyone to our knowledge, it's naive to ignore the threats high drivers can pose to other drivers on the roads. I don't have experience with this on a personal level, but I imagine driving while high or working while high can impede a person's spatial awareness and reflex. Until we have a way of measuring how stoned someone is and quantifying an appropriate amount like breathalyzers do for alcohol, I worry about what this may mean for public safety.

  2. Even though usage in public still won't be legal (which I think is a good thing) I worry most about how we will measure 'how high someone is' when they are driving. Also, I too am concerned with research and development regarding marijuana and medications. I think that this plant should be used primarily to advance our medical knowledge as opposed to being used recreationally and becoming a cash crop like Tobacco.

  3. Although I feel like you're right when discussing the legalization of marijuana, It may may create more pros than cons.

    And when I say that, i'm assuming - maybe not at a state government but at the federal government - will mess with marijuana with additives. Whatever they may be, they are going to begin turning this thing into a commodity more than what it actually is for.

    Nonetheless, I did vote for only time will tell :)

  4. In my opinion, its too soon to legalize marijuana without having first conducted the proper research. It would take years rigorous and carefully conducted tests to make sure it poses no hidden health threats that we might be missing due to its astonishing lack of deep investigation. Speculating on its effects on drug wars, or simply making it easier and cheaper to access it shouldn't be the primary concern, its medical obscurity should.

  5. In response to Oliver's comment about public health risks, I agree that policy should act in the best interest of the public health, but I find that focusing on drug policy is the same trap that we have been in for four decades. Asbestos was legal for nearly a century before removal efforts began. Why don't we treat it like any other substance and legalize and roll back if we find new information to the contrary?