Opinion: Is weed worth it?

Albert Fisler is a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Albert Fisler

With the recent first legal purchase of marijuana occurring earlier this month in Colorado, many other states have begun examining the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana, whether for recreational or medicinal use. There are currently six states with pending legislation to legalize marijuana — Ohio is one of them.   

Medical marijuana isn’t used to cure certain illnesses or diseases, as some believe. Instead, it is used to alleviate certain symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and particular types of pain. When used in recreation, however, marijuana can only have serious effects when combined with previous conditions, such as emphysema or a cardiac deficiency. While medical marijuana can reduce different discomforts and aching, most who are interested in legalizing its use primarily seek its potential economic outcomes.  

According to Huffington Post, during the first week of legalized marijuana, Colorado’s sales totaled about $5 million, and is projected to reach about $600 million annually, with a potential for $70 million in tax revenue; that’s a lot of green for green.  

One of the strongest arguments backing the legalization of marijuana was that it would potentially reduce violent gang crimes associated with trafficking the illegal drug. Mexican cartels might not be the only source of illegal marijuana coming into the United States, but they certainly play a major role. Taking one of their revenue sources doesn’t mean that gang violence will disappear completely, but the majority of these gangsters would potentially have to make a choice if marijuana was legalized: sell it legally or traffic other illegal substances. Regardless, criminal activity would likely decline.

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama spoke to an interviewer from the New Yorker about the potential legalization of marijuana. He began by talking about his own past use of marijuana, saying, “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”  What seemed to be his biggest concern with the issue, however, were the inconsistent arrests among minorities for using marijuana. According to the New Yorker, Obama said, “We should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.”

In the 1930s, films such as “Reefer Madness” and “The Devil’s Harvest” turned public opinion against marijuana. Now, movies such as “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” use comedy to portray marijuana in a beneficial light.  The New Year has just begun and there’s still a long road of legislation to come, but many marijuana advocates hope 2014 will be the year. Many of its biggest supporters include older generations who support legalization not because they personally want to use it, but because they simply don’t believe its harmful effects outweigh the economic benefits. With no reported deaths solely from the intake of marijuana in addition to its medicinal benefits, we should begin to wonder why it was ever prohibited in the first place.