On November 6th 2012 the recreational use of Marijuana was legalized for the states of Colorado and Washington. This means that marijuana use will be legally similar to that of alcohol. Participants must be twenty-one or older and of course, it must be used responsibly. However, this change in state policy does not go without controversy. The conflict between state rights and national law shows itself in full force as national law, as enforced by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), is in direct opposition to these state changes in their drug policy.
“Former Drug Enforcement Administration chiefs are urging the Obama administration to nullify marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington, which recently legalized the recreational use of pot.”
Chiefs and citizens who oppose these changes oppose them on the premise that marijuana use is a gateway drug that leads to violence, more drug use, and social problems. However records from the political left cite research that rubs against these notions surrounding the consumption of weed. Though, less biased cites that land in the middle of the cannabis debate like Erowid.org show a broad and thorough understanding of particular substances.
In regards to the impacts of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, it seems to have a broad range of effects from positive to negative. The negative effects of the drug, just like alcohol, only show up with individuals who have a low threshold to the substance and consume too much of it. Positive effects include feelings of happiness, spiritual connections to music and art, reduced stress, and the achievement of psychological flow. The negative consequences seem to occur to inexperienced users who take too high of a dose. These include feelings of anxiety, temporary upper respiratory problems linked to taking the drug through smoking it, and turning on predisposed mental disorders.
Sites and research linked to this match some of the findings listed on politically biased cites like shown on the Office of National Drug Control Policy. They cite all of the negative effects and omit any of the documented effects that show marijuana’s relative placid and positive impacts on people.
Even with this stated, the problems of prison incarceration for marijuana use costs the states tax money. Those on the left argue by legalizing marijuana one wouldn’t need to penalize those who are committing crimes to receive the high cost drug as it is on the market. Secondly, marijuana as legal would reduce those going to prison for purely ownership. Those on the right argue that marijuana use would increase do to lower prices and the effects of the drug on society would increase state costs, even though marijuana is already the most used illicit drug in the United States as stated on the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
It seems as though Colorado and Washington state will give us case studies to see how marijuana legalization truly impacts health in the long run. As Washington D.C. is caught up in trying to balance a costly budget, and implement stricter gun laws, it looks like Colorado and Washington will see a safe and smooth transition into a marijuana legal world. The debate about marijuana use is void so long as it is kept on the back burner. At any rate, a simple moral premise using distorted information on either end will not find an easy answer. Just observing the effects of marijuana use in the states that legalize them will answer any unanswered questions.
Sources: Erowid.org cannabis effects, White House – Office of National Drug Control Policy, DEA chiefs urge Obama to Nullify Washington and Colorado pot laws, LegalizationofMarijuana.com