007-001_JessBy JESSICA MCCOY

Weed, pot, reefer, Mary Jane, green, grass are all different names for marijuana. All are different preparations of the cannabis plant. For years, marijuana has been seen as taboo and the “pot-heads” who smoke it have been looked down upon. Lately, the idea of legalizing this drug has been gaining support because of its medical and economic benefits.

One of marijuana’s benefits is that it  can be used for medical purposes.  It can help with pain relief, stress relief, meditation, problems with gaining weight by helping one want to eat and for anti-nausea.

Since March 2009, 15 states have passed laws legalizing marijuana for medical use including: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

These states have issued medical marijuana licenses to people with conditions that qualify under the law such as HIV and AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, persistent muscle spasms, seizures, and severe nausea or pain.

Although every state has different laws dealing with the medical marijuana license, most require that one be under the care of a physician who feels the use of marijuana is needed. One will then get an identification card certifying the qualification under the law, and the license only qualifies one to obtain an ounce or less for personal use.

Marijuana is one of the least harmful of the illegal drugs. Drugs like cocaine, heroin, LSD and ecstasy all have very negative effects on the body and can lead to an overdose.

People debate that marijuana is a “gateway drug,” and this is simply not true. Teens are not more likely to do harder drugs simply because they have smoked pot before. They are no more likely than teens who have smoked cigarettes or drink alcohol. Although this belief has been tossed around, there is a recent study by the Center for Economic Policy Research, London, that says cannabis does not lead to the use of hard drugs.

If alcohol and cigarettes are legal, then marijuana should be legalized as well. The tobacco and alcohol industries kill thousands every day, yet we put a tax on them and set an age limit and they are legal. The U.S. should treat marijuana the same way.

If marijuana was legalized no one under 21 would be able to purchase the drug, one could not be high in public areas, nor would it be legal to drive after smoking. Driving under the influence includes any inhibiting substance, which includes marijuana. Accordingly, one would be convicted of the same charges as one who was driving drunk or committing reckless behavior.

Marijuana and driving impairment researcher Franco Grotenherman said that seven to 10 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood serum, otherwise six puffs off of one joint, is the equivalent of a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent which is the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle.

Another benefit to legalizing marijuana would be the potential
income the country could gain from taxing marijuana. It would be enormous. According to an article in Time magazine, “It is estimated that pot is the largest cash crop in California, with annual revenues approaching $14 billion. A 10 percent pot tax would yield $1.4 billion in
California alone.”

Of all drug arrests, 47.5 percent involve marijuana. The country spends $68 billion a year on enforcing the law and jailing people for possession of marijuana. That is large sum of money that could be used elsewhere, especially considering the current economic crisis.

While more and more states  start to legalize the plant with the medical licenses, some senators in Washington are fighting to legalize the cannabis plant on a nationwide scale. One of these senators is democrat Chris Romer of Colorado, who is currently working on a bill to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.

Overall the legalizing of marijuana will have many positive effects for the country as a whole. It is time that weed, pot, reefer, Mary Jane, green, grass, or whatever one calls it, is legalized.

By admin

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