Legalized marijuana: a gateway to larger problems

Nov. 6 was a very important day in our nation’s history. After many fiery debates, fierce campaigns ads, and long voting lines, our leader, Barack Obama, was re-elected. But in the eyes of young voters, something even more important in the political sphere happened on that day. And as testament to this historical event, in just a few days, grocery stores in three states will see a spike in Cheetos and Goldfish sales. Munchies, anyone?

It’s no secret that college students make up a large percentage of illegal marijuana users across the United States. But as of Dec. 5, in Massachusetts, Colorado and Washington, anyone over 21 is now free to blow smoke rings as they choose.

There are, of course, stipulations in place. In Colorado and Washington, the legal quantity of personal weed possession will be limited to a single ounce, but it will be legally sold and taxed at state-licensed stores in a system modeled after present alcohol sale rules. In addition to state-licensed sales, Oregon’s generous new initiative legalizes the possession and cultivation of unlimited amounts of pot for personal and very recreational use. Unlike liberal Oregon, Colorado’s new measure will limit cultivation to six marijuana plants per person, and “grow-your-own” pot will remain illegal in Washington. And most importantly, under broad federal law, cannabis remains an illegal substance.

So what do all of these new policies burn down to? We, the people, are convinced that we have waited long enough for the “Century of Cannabis” to arrive. State governments, however, are not so sure. The results of the recent presidential election displayed America’s democratic tendencies, and there is a general positive correlation between liberal political views and recreational drug usage. The rules are in place to save us from ourselves. Why not legalize weed everywhere, without limitations? Because a significant number of us, mostly students, would quickly get lost in drug-induced stupors, and Alcoholics Anonymous would have to take a backseat to a newly established Cannabis Confidentiality, or something similar.

Sure, there is something gained from the legalization of weed, in terms of economics. What is probably the most active black market in the country will be rerouted in a few states, and the economy may receive a blunt-sized boost. Also notable is the skill with which America avoided a potentially painful “hypocrite” label. The land of the free gave us more rights, thereby living up to its name, however pressured it was by the people.

And “the people” cannot forget: we chose this; state level governments merely complied. A future increase in drug-related accidents, rehab check-ins and perhaps a general decline in intelligence, can only be blamed on voters.

Contrary to every pothead’s insistence, weed has been proven to kill brain cells. It is not powerfully addictive, but any junkie on the street will quickly tell you how difficult it is to stop after years of getting high. Cannibis is believed by many scientists to be a gateway drug, meaning its use leads to the use, and potential abuse, of other, more detrimental, drugs. So, Colorado, Washington and Massachusetts could be setting themselves up for a bigger problem than they realize.

The nation should also contemplate this: many of those who voted to legalize marijuana are people who clearly already possess a certain level of devotion to weed. In some cases, these people might also possess some type of serious substance abuse problem. They have, thus far, faced no qualms about illegally growing, selling and/or using pot or other drugs.  So how well will they comply with the new rules?

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