Sisters Talking On…Legalizing Marijuana

Point for Discussion:

The people of the nation are speaking loudly and clearly.  Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico.  Medical uses for cannabis have been growing for many years with new benefits documented regularly.  Is recreational use really any worse than alcohol consumption?   As of the start of 2018, recreational Marijuana is legal in 8 states and the District of Columbia, and at least 12 states will be voting on this issue in November. While it remains a Federal offense at this point, the President has stated that for now, the Feds won’t interfere.

Our Points of View:

(Lynn)

For many years, marijuana was considered a gateway drug that would lead users to chase the next high through increasingly stronger drugs like speed or cocaine or heroin.  As an unregulated illegal recreational drug, the quality of marijuana has been inconsistent and in some cases, when laced with fentanyl, the use has been fatal.  I never bought into the gateway drug theory.  I had many friends in college that smoked weed, and it did not lead them to stronger drugs. Pill-popping friends led them to stronger drugs.  My friends that smoked weed got high, but their buzz was never worse than being drunk.

In the years since college, there has been quite a bit of research done on the medical benefits of cannabis.  It has been used successfully to combat nausea following chemotherapy, reduced the symptoms of depression, and kept pain at manageable levels for many, reducing their need to rely on ever-increasing amounts of opioids.

Medical use has been legal in my state for a while now.  This has allowed regulation that stabilizes quality control in the end product.  As many have said, this isn’t you father’s weed.  The quality is consistent, and you can purchase the potency you need for what ails you.  We have not taken the final step to legalize recreational use in my state, but that really hasn’t mattered.  If I wanted to, I could get a medical use card for $75.  I could complain of chronic pain, and I could obtain a card allowing me to legally purchase product for personal use.

Legalization of recreational marijuana is officially on the November ballot here.  Every poll I’ve heard about has projected between 65% and 70% in favor of legalization.  I know I will be voting in favor of it.

Are there risks?  Of course.  But the proposal has laid out a pretty comprehensive list of rules that should mitigate many potential problems.  These regulations limit how much you can have on your person, how much you can have at home, how many plants you can grow for your own use, and a strict policy of no public use.  You can only use it at home.

In the states that have already legalized the use of recreational marijuana, tax revenues are up sharply.  This will prevent the raising of other taxes to fund state and local government. The proposal here has 30% of the tax revenue going to support schools.  In addition, those communities that allow these businesses will receive 15% of the tax revenues.

The most challenging aspect for legal cannabis related businesses is the inability to secure banking arrangements. Because cannabis is a Schedule 1 narcotic, banks will not allow these businesses to borrow money to get started, or even open checking accounts to manage their businesses.  Venture capital can be used to get started, but these are essentially cash businesses, no credit cards allowed.

While there is a liquor store on almost every corner here, cannabis businesses will not be as abundant, at least for a while. There is quite a bit of paperwork involved in obtaining a license to operate, even for medical marijuana businesses.  Other states have managed to get this done, though, and I’m sure it will be accomplished here.

Compared to other drug crises, the public safety war against marijuana costs far more than the benefits received from prosecution.  The larger issue is the opioid addiction problem.  I read last week that 13 people per hour die from an opioid overdose in this country.  Let’s devote the taxes collected from the legal sale of recreational marijuana to fighting a far more serious war against opioid addiction.

(Laurie)

I agree with Lynn that marijuana use should be approved, for medical and recreational purposes, and we’re clearly not alone.

The majority of people support legalizing medical marijuana, if recommended by a doctor.  It’s hard to argue with the fact that for many with certain conditions, marijuana helps them face each day by helping them manage their pain.  Because (legal) medical marijuana usage is relatively new, there are not many statistics available yet to validate its effectiveness, but I’m guessing that those who need it, consider it highly effective.

As marijuana for medical purposes continues to be developed (e.g., defining qualifying conditions, setting the number of dispensary licenses for a market, etc.), support for legalizing recreational marijuana is also gaining momentum.

Marijuana for recreational use is different, and there are many logical reasons that people support legalizing it (in no particular order):

  • Lower costs – Fewer arrests lowers the cost for incarcerations that crowd jails
  • Potentially less crime – Not having to find a source in unsafe places; not being prosecuted
  • Less motivation for trafficking – people can find their own and pay a reasonable price

Of course, it will be important to set a legal level for what is considered DUI for marijuana as a counterpart to DUI for alcohol use.  Legal doesn’t mean unrestricted.

I have to admit that I wasn’t always behind the idea of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, but now that the movement has started, I can see many benefits beyond the emotional and physical.  I see recreational marijuana as a new source of tax revenue for states and the Federal government that can be responsibly used to fund areas that are critically underfunded, yet critical:

  • States could allocate the taxes collected to teachers and police – we now have a way to pay them what they deserve, whether educating our kids or keeping us safe!
  • The Federal government could use its taxes collected to build solvency in Social Security!
  • And….if really responsible, savings from less spending on jails could also be reallocated.

What other new business venture represents an entirely new source of revenue to fund critical functions that doesn’t require cuts to something else?  We knew there was money in marijuana.  It’s time to put some of that money to use for the greater good!

Our Question for You:

Do you support recreational use of marijuana?  If not, why not?  If so, why?

 

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