Over the past three decades America has witnessed a controversial debate about whether or not the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana has any possible benefits to our society. Several states (Oregon, California, Nevada, Alaska, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, North Carolina, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, & Maine) have elected to decriminalize marijuana while the majority of the United States has not. Decriminalizing marijuana isn’t an all access pass though. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, if a state decriminalizes marijuana, that typically means no prison time or criminal record for first-time possession of a small amount for personal consumption. Possession is usually treated like a traffic ticket.
Although there are many arguments in support of decriminalizing or even legalizing marijuana, the main one is economics. The Office of National Drug Control Policy reported that in 2010, over $25 billion dollars was spent on the “War on Drugs” in the United States. Critics of the prohibition of marijuana believe that by providing legal supplies of currently illegal drugs the price will fall, will not only lead to a collapse in the illegal drug industry, but it was also reduce crimes committed by the both drug sellers and buyers.
In this CNN interview, Dale Sky Jones, Executive Chancellor of Oaksterdam University and Spokesman for Yes on Prop 19, advocates to “control, tax, and regulate cannabis sales for adult use” to support safer communities, taking the profit from marijuana sales directly from the drug cartels.
However compelling the arguments for decriminalization and/or legalization are, there are many who feel that this type of advocacy is wishful thinking. The Position Statement from Drug Watch International claims, “The use of illicit drugs is illegal because of their intoxicating effects on the brain, damaging impact on the body, adverse impact on behavior, and potential for abuse,” it continues, “Legalization would decrease price and increase availability. Availability is a leading factor associated with increased drug use.”
Video: Above the Influence / I Do Me
A poll released by Associated Press-CNBC last year showed that the majority of Americans, 55%, oppose the legalization of marijuana as a whole, but favor its medicinal benefits. The organization “Above the Influence” is targeting teens and young adults, encouraging them to resist the pressures of drugs, sex, and alcohol. According to their website, “there are higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thinking among people who use marijuana when compared to people who don’t use.”