Recreational Marijuana and Its Legalization
The line between medical and recreational marijuana is marked by two chemicals, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabinol (CBD). THC has psychoactive properties which give you a high while CBD doesn’t have the psychoactive effects. So, medical marijuana has high CBD content while recreational marijuana has more of THC which is why you get arrested using recreational pot.
While medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and recreational legal in 7 states, it is important to be on the right side of the law when smoking pot. It is, however, worth mentioning that recreational weed wasn’t legal in any state five years ago and the current shift shows a change in societal thinking and the working of judicial systems.
While you need a recommendation for medical marijuana, you don’t need any form of recommendation for recreational marijuana in the states where it is legal. At the same time, you can buy medical marijuana from regulated dispensaries but, you can only buy recreational pot from the dispensary if it is legal in the state.
Why Should We Legalize Recreational Marijuana?
- Job creation – By legalizing and regulating the use of recreational marijuana, there will be job openings when marijuana is a cash crop. There will be more pot dispensaries and legal laboratories that will offer legal opportunities to the jobless. Improved economic status lowers incidence of crime.
- Prohibition has failed – Marijuana was first prohibited in 1937, and then, few Americans were aware of its existence. Fast forward to 2017, more than 30 million Americans admit to having tried marijuana. In short, marijuana is widespread and mainstream, prohibiting won’t work.
- There is no focus on real crime – when offenders are prosecuted, attention shifts from crime on the streets and the few criminal cases are solved annually.
- Taxation would bring in more money in revenues compared to prosecution which is turning into a waste of public resources.
- There is no even enforcement of Marijuana laws, and more African Americans get prosecuted than whites.
- Prohibition only makes control impossible – with licensed pot businesses, there is more control and oversight over the pot that gets to the market. However, prohibition makes control impossible and unsafe pot, untested for potency and purity reach the market.
- Marijuana is safer than alcohol – marijuana hasn’t caused any medically documented case of an overdose yet, alcohol and other legal opiates prove fatal in many cases.
Reasons Against Legalization of Recreational Marijuana
Law enforcement reasons
Law makers believe that legalizing marijuana equals promoting other crimes because most people who sell drugs are involved in other shady activities
- Ingestion of marijuana is considered immoral by some people.
- Second-hand marijuana smoke could be harmful to others
- Long-term abuse negatively affects your health
- In some cases, it leads to usage of hards drugs like cocaine and heroin.
Ongoing Legislative Measures
Seven states including the District of Columbia (D.C) have adopted expansive laws on the legalization of recreational marijuana. These states include:
In California, the Proposition 64 measure allows adults aged 21 and above to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. They can also grow up six plants in their homes. Other licensing and tax provisions of the law are expected to take effect in January 2018.
In Massachusetts, lawmakers are weighing bills that would lower the amount of pot residents can possess. They are also working on placing restrictions on retail stores.
In Nevada, there is a proposal calling for businesses to obtain permits which will allow for public use of marijuana.
In the latest development, a bill that legalizes recreational marijuana just passed in Vermont. However, the biggest question remains, will Governor Phil Scott sign this into law?
States likely to legalize recreational marijuana in 2018
Michigan, Rhodes Island, New Jersey, Louisiana, and Iowa are likely to pass the legalization measure soon. Michigan has gone as far as proposing a ballot than would legalize it for recreational use without taxing the drug.
The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is advocating for the removal of marijuana from the criminal system. They have two campaigns running:
- New Solutions Marijuana Reform Campaign, which aims at legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana use in the same way as alcohol in New Jersey.
- Start Smart NY – Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade, a campaign dedicated to ending marijuana prohibition in New York.
Earlier in August 2017, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced a bill to legalize marijuana across the US. The bill would drop the federal prohibition on marijuana even encourage states to legalize it.
He intends to do this through the Marijuana Justice Act which would, among other things remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, ending the prohibition of marijuana. He’s very active on twitter and his official account is @corybooker.
Federal Legalization Bill of 2017
The 115th Congress Bill – Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017
The Act states: “This bill intends to amend the Controlled Substances Act to provide that the Act’s regulatory controls and administrative, civil, and criminal penalties do not apply to marijuana.”
This bill removes tetrahydrocannabinol and marijuana from being listed as a schedule I controlled substance. It also eliminates criminal penalties for individuals who import, export, manufacture, distribute, or possess marijuana with the intent to distribute.