By HANK ROBICHAUD
Eighty years ago, the federal government placed marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) (21 U.S.C. § 811) which banned the sale, use and cultivation of the cannabis plant. To this day, it is still federally illegal.
Now nine states have legalized marijuana both recreationally and medically. There are also 30 states that permit the use of medical marijuana.
This year, there will be seven states and one territory that have legalization about medical marijuana and/or recreational use.
Arizona is currently one of 30 states that has legalized the drug for medical use. However, the state has yet to legalize recreational use.
The legalization of marijuana comes with risks, of course.
With the legalization of marijuana, there would be more usage of the drug because of its accessibility and from what other states’ records have shown.
There is also the potential of a spike in in both DUIs and car crashes with the legalization. Arizona has a zero tolerance policy for people driving under the influence of marijuana and having any marijuana in their system. However, people who smoke regularly will have THC remain in their system longer. This may cause issues judging the impairment of a driver.
Christopher Albers, chief of police for Pima Community College Police Department, discussed some effects at PCC if marijuana became legal.
“As far as an opinion from the department, we don’t have one — we just enforce the laws the state gives us,” Albers said. “There will probably be an increase in traffic incidents, but for DUIs it would be a lot harder to judge impairment because there is no clear-cut way. We are learning as we go, and marijuana affects everyone differently.”
Of course, Albers noted that some activities might see an uptick with marijuana use.
“We might see an increase in vending machine and cafeteria sales,” said Albers, laughing.
From 2014 to 2016, there have been a mere three total drug incidents on Pima campuses; two at Desert Vista and one at West Campus. These are very low numbers and we may or may not see increases in the numbers if it were to become legal.
States that have legalized cannabis have seen economic improvement. Pueblo County, Colorado, found that regulating the cannabis industry contributed more than $58 million to the local economy over the last calendar year, according to Forbes magazine,
However, there was in increase in tax spending by $23 million. Depending on how you look at it, this could be a better thing because that means more money is being invested into the economy — and thus earning a net profit of $35 million from the industry in the area. Because of this, the county has since dedicated $420,000 to scholarships for 210 students last year alone.
Of course, there are effects from marijuana use, including slower reaction times, impaired vision and possible lapse of memory. These effects, however, are far less harmful to your body than alcohol and cigarettes, which have been proven very harmful to overall health.
There have been millions of tax dollars spent on prisoners each year that are in jail for weed possession. From 2001 to 2010, there were 8.2 million marijuana arrests, and 88 percent of which were for simply having the drug, according to ACLU.org.
As an occasional user of medical marijuana, I believe it would be a great thing for the United States to legalize the drug to bring in tax revenue and to drive down the overall crime rate.