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In case you’ve been living under a rock for a while now, I’m going to fill you in on some of the more recent advances in the movement to legalize marijuana. Sixteen states now have medical marijuana systems in place. This means that those states have voted and decided that marijuana can be used for certain medical conditions, despite federal laws. Colorado and Washington have taken it a step further and legalized the use of marijuana for residents above the age of 21. Times are definitely changing.

the 1970s, President Nixon began his “war on drugs.” This has cost hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to combat the prolific drug use of the flower power era. Today we may be seeing the end of that war, not as a success, but rather an admittance of defeat.

The billions of taxpayer dollars and the thousands of man-hours used to arrest the partakers of a relatively harmless drug are a waste. The government is wasting money, time, and the potential futures of the youth that they are prosecuting. I’ll admit, I don’t understand the complexities of the federal government, but this rustles my jimmies.

Most  current research on this topic has failed to demonstrate the suposed dangers. Yes, for those with preexisting conditions, marijuana can trigger symptoms of mental illness, but these are the  issues that need to be publicized and discussed. Marijuana that is ingested through rolling papers is not healthy due to smoke inhalation, but the myth that just four joints is comparable to a pack of cigarettes has little validity.

There are proponents of marijuana legalization who claim that weed is a miracle drug that has no negative side effects, promising only rainbows and unicorns. This is not true. As with any therapeutic drug, there are aspects that users need to be aware of, but those realizations can only come about when there’s an actual dialogue.

This dialogue is becoming more  ubiquitous. Petitions that question the status of marijuana as a Schedule I drug are constantly sent to the government. Independent labs are researching the potential of cannabis as a therapeutic drug to treat issues ranging from basic pain relief to more serious disorders such as glaucoma. In some cases, its side effects are beneficial; the drug has been used by patients who undergo chemotherapy to increase their food consumption. Who knew that the munchies could be used for medicinal purposes?

The movement to legalize isn’t new. People have been working towards this for a long time, despite the social status that is attached to the issue. Years of rallies and public awareness movements have made strides to change public perception of marijuana.

Why does this matter? I understand there are some major issues in this country, matters that need to be dealt with immediately. These issues need funding, so stop wasting money trying to limit the use of marijuana, an effort that has only produced negative results, and spend money on public education reform or reducing our debt. There are so many other things we can focus on and trying to stop people from smoking weed should not be at the top of the list. People will find ways to smoke regardless of our efforts. Trying to stop them is stupid.

And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

Smith is a member of the class of 2014. 


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