Positive and negative outcomes of legalization

Megan Casey, Editor-in-Chief

It has been almost 95 years since the days when marijuana was legal to possess and use for medical reasons in every state of the Union. This, of course, was before the federal government decided to ban its possession and use in 1937. Today, marijuana legalization is a controversial issue due to a few states’ decisions to legalize marijuana possession and usage in some way or another.

On Nov. 6, 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the sale and possession of cannabis for recreational use. Each of these states regulated marijuana in a way similar to alcohol, where they allow the possession of up to an ounce for adults ages 21 and older, with “DUID” (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs) provisions similar to those against drunk driving.

Two years later, on Nov. 4, 2014, the states of Alaska and Oregon, along with Washington, D.C., legalized the recreational usage of marijuana, with laws similar to those of Colorado and Washington.

However, Washington, D.C. was prevented from making additional changes to its marijuana laws for the fiscal year which allowed home use and cultivation but not commercial sales.

People may wonder why these states decided to legalize marijuana and what kind of effects it has in the states. Well, in Colorado, with the marijuana industry having developed quickly, it has generated thousands of new jobs. It is estimated that there are currently about 10,000 people directly involved with this industry.

Another benefit of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado was how Colorado’s economy has thrived because of it. For example, the demand for commercial real estate has increased drastically, with houses in the state appreciating up to 8.7 percent in the past two years alone. EGHS junior,Quentin Lange agrees that the legalization could positively benefit the economy.

“It gives the government more money because they can tax it which would hopefully help the state’s or our country’s debt decrease,” Lange said.

Using marijuana for medicinal purposes can be a positive benefit as well. Pain is the most common reason why people ask for a prescription for medicinal marijuana. The pain could be from headaches, a disease like cancer, or a long-term condition, such as glaucoma or nerve pain.

EGHS science teacher Eleanor Pattie agrees that the legalization of medicinal marijuana could be beneficial to patients.“For people who’ve have long-term problems with maybe nausea or headaches, if they can get prescribed by a doctor under special dosages that might be the therapy they’ve been waiting for,” Pattie said.

While the legalization may have its positive impacts, it, of course, can have negative impacts.

“Negative effects might be more about perception,” Pattie said. “There might be fear of the unknown of what’s going to happen to the surrounding area. Would people come in from out of state to try to get it or that kind of thing? I just don’t know what’s going to happen to be honest.”

Some people may be concerned that the legalization of marijuana may result in people abusing or overusing the marijuana in harmful ways.

“I think if it’s anything that is medical there’s a potential for abuse or being overused, and that is true for other kinds of medicines too like opiates or vicodin and things like that,” Pattie said. “I think anything that is a medication needs to be monitored closely and people have to monitor their own symptoms.”

There are 23 states, including Illinois, that have legalized marijuana to be used only for medicinal purposes.

With the growing controversy of marijuana legalization, perhaps this will lead other places to follow in having marijuana legalized, either for medicinal or recreational purposes, in their own state.