Marijuana Should Be Legalized And Decriminalized

Charlie Bosworth, Contributing Writer

Marijuana became illegal in the United States in 1937.  Marijuana and other drugs have been shown to be harmful in their addictive nature.  The use of drugs diminishes one’s contributions to society and inhibits typical behavior and processing skills.  Despite marijuana’s cons, it should be legalized and decriminalized due to its positive effect on our economy with tax revenues directed to the most vulnerable communities. 

Profitable steps have been made in the last decade, especially on the west coast, and the legalization movement has continued during this election season.  In New Jersey, people overwhelmingly voted for the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana.  Similarly, Oregon’s voter day referendum made it the first state to completely decriminalize the possession of street drugs such as methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine.  Users will be given a fine, as opposed to jail time.  South Dakota and Arizona also approved measures to legalize marijuana.

Currently, illegal marijuana distributors have limited regulations if they are not caught.  Those who grow and distribute it are under no obligation to make it safe and pure; the user never exactly knows its contents.  Marijuana is often sold by the number of grams, which means a dealer can blend a cheaper product into the mixture.  Due to marijuana’s addictive effect, customers continue to buy in higher quantities.  Legalizing and regulating marijuana would ensure that the drug is safer for recreational use. 

“When it’s illegal, it has the chance to be laced, which could be avoided if it was legal,” said junior Rion Weber. 

An issue that arises with marijuana’s legalization is payment; the solution is to tax it.  There are resources to ensure addiction gets treated; taxing it would further fund these treatment-focused institutions.  Marijuana’s sale would stimulate state economies especially following COVID-19. There is a significant amount of lost revenue when this product goes untaxed.

“We can collect more taxes and make sure it’s well regulated,” said junior Jacob Ritholtz.

Furthermore, the revenue could be reinvested into the communities most affected by drug use.  For example, New Jersey’s legalization worked to promote social and racial justice because minorities are arrested for drug possession more often than others.  70% of their 6.625% sales tax on marijuana will go to a social equity fund.  Legalization will be more successful at combating drug use than the legislative war on drugs.

Another issue is that the judicial system imprisons people for carrying the drug.  In New York, possession of between eight ounces and one pound is considered a felony and can lead to up to four years of incarceration. 

The most important reason is an overwhelming majority of the people arrested for possession are minorities, especially African Americans.  Imprisoning and fining people for possession only further harms minority communities.

“Illegalization of marijuana is ineffective because people will continue to do it,” said junior Jamie Goldman. 

Legalizing and decriminalizing possession is the most beneficial thing to do for our country.  This will cycle money back into our society, especially into minority communities most affected by drug use.  In addition, decriminalization would prevent many young people from incarceration.  Decriminalizing marijuana would be a step in the right direction for New York, and the United States as a whole.