Marijuana use is one of the most fiercely debated topics in the U.S. today.
With the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington last year, the debate has only been stoked into a hotter blaze.
Recently, Pennsylvania Sen. Daylin Leach proposed a bill to legalize recreational marijuana.
Suprisingly, Republican Sen. Mike Folmer also has become an advocate for legalizing medical marijuana.
However, the bill is likely to be shot down by Pennsylvania’s conservative majority, so put away your rolling papers, everyone.
Many pot advocates argue that legalizing and taxing marijuana could generate enormous tax revenues which could be used to benefit the state. For example, Colorado will collect nearly $20 million in tax revenues this year from pot tax, and that amount is predicted to double in next year’s collection.
In combination with the millions of dollars of added pot tax revenues, millions spent on arresting and incarcerating Pennsylvanian marijuana users could be used instead to fill state budget gaps in other areas.
“I believe that Pennsylvania should legalize marijuana because it would reduce the spread of money from the economy to criminal organizations and gangs,” said Kate Destafano, a student at Shippensburg University. “Also, marijuana is not a lethal drug and it can actually alleviate certain ailments such as pain and anxiety.”
Opponents of legalization argue that legalizing marijuana could send a “pro-drug” message to children, who could potentially use the drug to stunt the growth of their developing brains.
Opponents also argue that legalization of the drug could cause an increase in driving accidents.
Many opponents have also claimed that legalized marijuana would become an easily accessible gateway to harder drugs such as mushrooms, LSD, methamphetamines, cocaine and heroin, to name just a few. I believe marijuana use is as unhealthy as cigarettes and as unwise as binge drinking.
However, I strongly believe that the financial gains, decreased incarceration rates, and economic stimulation of legalization outweigh the damage that the failed “war on drugs” is inflicting on society. Passing legislation to legalize and heavily tax marijuana is the fiscally responsible decision for Pennsylvania lawmakers.
I do not deny the negative effects of legalized marijuana.There will probably be an initial spike in marijuana use and then a slow drop off as the novelty of legal pot gradually wears off. There will probably be a spike in adolescent marijuana usage as well. But the reality is, in our day and age, it is easier for an eighth-grader to acquire marijuana than alcohol.
There is a world of insidious drug dealers seeking out American children to sell their wares to.
To make things worse, once in contact with the child, they are more than willing to graduate the curious child to a cornucopia of more intense and addictive drugs.Legalizing marijuana would stop this from happening by eliminating the illegal link between marijuana and other highly addictive, mind destroying substances.
It would group marijuana with beer and cigarettes, safely locked behind the counter of grocery stores.
The debate rages on, but state trends point to eventual legalization.
However, Pennsylvania will most likely be one of the last states to legalize.