Will pot become fully legalized… probably not

Molly Cahill

Marijuana, cannabis, pot, dope and grass; these are just a few of the names people use when talking about this currently illegal substance. With proposition 19 at its helm, California hopes to be the first state to make marijuana legal for general consumption. And many in Ohio are angling for the state to join the short list who allows its use for medicinal purposes. The fact is, though, that no matter what laws an individual state passes, pot is an illegal substance under federal law and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.

The cotton and paper industries are two of the bigger obstacles to marijuana being legalized. Hemp is a fiber that can be produced from plants of the cannabis family and prior to the invention of the cotton gin, was a very popular crop in America. It was easier to produce, faster to grow and is also one of the earliest known domesticated crops. Similar to the soybean, hemp also has many health and food related uses.

Unlike in the early years of the hemp vs. cotton debate, I don’t think it has much of a chance at overtaking cotton to become the fiber of choice for clothing manufacturers. It is also unlikely we will stop using wood pulp in the production of paper in favor of hemp. But the fact that it may prove any threat would probably lead the lobbyists for those industries to fight against it. Marijuana does not come from the same variety of the cannabis family as industrial hemp, but some worry that the legitimizing of one will lead to the legitimizing of the other.

Another stumbling block in the path of marijuana becoming legal is the people who produce the majority of our country’s supply of the drug themselves. One argument is that making growing pot legal will allow those people who grow it illegally to operate without fear of legal reprisal. The problem though, is that drug dealers and their suppliers make an obscene amount of money off of marijuana and legalizing it would only drive the price down and cut into their profits. I think we can all understand that drug lords like their money.

One argument the proponents of legalizing marijuana like to use is that making it legal would cut down on the number of people being prosecuted for possession and ease the burden on the taxpayers who are paying for it. They like to argue that the effects of marijuana are not as bad as those of alcohol and so people who smoke should not be prosecuted for what is essentially a minor crime. This is ridiculous because most people are already let off for possession with little more than a slap on the wrist. The legal system mainly focuses on the large-scale operations that produce and supply it. Believe me, there will still be people out there operating outside the law to produce marijuana even if it is made legal, mostly because it would still be a controlled substance. Doesn’t ATF still go after moonshiners?

Despite the fact I believe it will be a good while before the full legalization of marijuana becomes a real issue, I do not support it. I don’t like pot and I don’t plan on ever taking up the habit. Making medical marijuana legal, though, is a cause I will not dispute. People going through chemotherapy have enough problems without worrying about being arrested over one of the few things that helps them get through the nausea and lack of appetite.

Molly Cahill is a senior pre-journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].