On Tuesday, Oregon became the third state to vote in favor of fully legalizing marijuana — another step forward for the ever-growing marijuana legalization movement.
Now it’s time to legalize it here.
Come on, did you really think a college newspaper would pass up on an opportunity to rehash — heh rehash — the age-old marijuana debate?
Though we at The Jambar are certainly tired of going out of our way to find shady 1930s-style speakeasy bars just to obtain a simple hash brownie — side note to the FBI, who we are certain has been watching us for years just waiting to strike, we are joking — our desire to legalize marijuana extends beyond a craving for easily obtainable pot.
Legalization is simply the morally sound thing to do.
A Gallup Poll taken in 2013 asked American adults to indicate whether or not they had ever used marijuana, and the results of this poll showed that 38 percent of Americans have at least tried marijuana — that’s a big number.
The importance of this statistic is twofold: it shows 1) that laws banning marijuana have largely failed and 2) that people often consume unregulated chemical substances.
Laws haven’t stopped people from smoking marijuana, but have forced people to obtain marijuana illegally from unregulated sellers — sellers who only care about their profits and the bulk of their pocketbooks.
Their product has been known to contain unwanted substances from feces to insects to mold. Sometimes, a vender’s product is not marijuana at all; it’s “synthetic marijuana,” which can sometimes have life-threatening side affects and can have a severe and negative impact on the brain.
By legalizing marijuana, we can effectively subject marijuana venders to federal regulations. Those looking to smoke would no longer have to go through criminals to purchase their cannabis. They’d no longer frequent unsafe homes and streets belonging to dangerous drug dealers. Instead, they would buy a high-quality, taxed product complete with clearly visible warning labels from a professional and licensed seller.
And we have all heard of the ridiculous penalties that have fallen upon the unfortunate heads of those who have been caught green handed. Though many get a slap on the wrist for possession, the federal law does specify that possession of any amount is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine up to $1,000 on the first offense. Sale of marijuana — between 50-100 kilos — is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and up to a $1,000,000 fine.
Though most do not feel the full force of the law, there is simply too much chaos in this equation. The punishment is often dealt out arbitrarily; worse yet, it sometimes isn’t arbitrary, but based on race. Black Americans are punished an inordinate amount, and with more severity, for possession than white Americans, even though the usage statistics are close.
Though we as a nation claim that our laws are based on our morality, often dubbed natural law, how could anyone deem this to be moral or just?
So let’s stop pretending that existing bans on marijuana have stopped people from using it, and let’s start thinking about protecting those who are using it — from either shady dealers or the legal system itself. Hats off to those in Oregon who decided to make a morally sound decision and voted for legalized marijuana on Tuesday. Ohio, let’s follow suit.