Thursday, December 8, 2016

Legalizing Cannabis: An Incendiary Topic

An editorial written by a student... a creative student.

First, I would like to preface this article with the fact I do not engage in recreational drug use. I refrain from engaging in such activity for personal reasons and, quite honestly, have never felt the desire to pick up such a habit. I understand the moral reasons why some people refrain from casual cannabis use and also the health benefits that some cannabis users claim justify their use. While radical conservatives –even Democrats—may balk at the moral fabric of our society becoming compromised if marijuana is legalized for recreational use, many fail to recognize the economic benefits legalizing marijuana could produce; this is my focus and position for believing marijuana should be legalized.
 As Illinois lawmakers and officials march forward waving figurative signs of protest backing their respective causes, our state flops around like a fish out of water, on the brink of total economic chaos. Proposed budgets ooze with either too many Lucky Charms marshmallows or not enough enough cereal in the bowl to prevent starvation, and the population sits precariously on the edge of their seats waiting for the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters to begin his famous walk through the cities eating everyone’s pensions and entitlements for dinner. Instead of opening dusty doors with potential gold nuggets sitting on the other side, our state legislature continues to staple bright yellow caution tape over them to see if everyone will just ignore the doors and move on to something easier to open like boxes of municipal bonds. The problem is that we can all see the rectangular shape of the doors under the layers of bright yellow nonsensical caution tape. We see state after state legalizing recreational marijuana and joining the increasing number of fiscally responsible governments that care about opening the doors instead of finding every possible way to keep them locked. 
Illinois legalized medical marijuana several years ago, and then completely destroyed the financial opportunity by regulating the manufacturers as if they were opening proxy headquarters for the NSA or CIA. How can a viable business break out when the red tape is wrapped around its potential, like titanium shackles? Does each medical marijuana plant in the facility really need to be monitored, tracked and witnessed through Illinois State Police spy cam feeds? Why do we throw away the potential tax windfall from this billion-dollar industry when we are Kung Fu fighting over crumbs? It is unbelievable to think that our elected officials would rather whine and moan about how to fund various programs, while the American Civil Liberties Union estimates that it costs America over $3,600,000,000 to enforce marijuana laws at the local level (Poindexter, 2014).  Law enforcement officers could be spending their time and our tax dollars on more pressing and serious issues, than making it a point to bust “tokers.”  However, Illinois’ recent decriminalization of small time marijuana users will undoubtedly ease the burden on our state’s economic back by  trying to suck money out of the pot smokers instead of spending debt based money to incarcerate them, yet it is just a token of what could be earned from the honest taxation of a fully functioning reefer market. 
How much could Illinois gain, financially, from legalization? We need to look at the experience of other states that have legalized.  Colorado has only had a working recreational marijuana industry for a few years and they are already puffing on an additional $135,000,000 in tax revenue from the almost $1,000,000,000 fledgling industry (Poindexter, 2014). There isn’t any way the United States will ever eradicate recreational marijuana smoking, so why not allow it and tax the puffers? As the residents of Illinois watch their sales taxes, property taxes and medical insurance premiums continue to fatten like a pet wooly mammoth, can there be any wonder why ever higher percentages of the population want to see this prohibition go up in smoke? Every day we read of folks in more enlightened states discovering an increasing number of new uses for the plant, but our ridiculous, overbearing legislative parents maintain the myth of the diabolical gateway drug. 
Marijuana has been proven to be less addictive and much less harmful to the human body than both alcohol and tobacco, yet the cloudy gateway drug argument is continuously used as a rickety old platform from which to stand on by rickety old control freaks who never seem to understand when they have outlived their usefulness in the state legislative body. On the contrary, cannabis has been proven to have legitimate medical benefits, so why require individuals to jump through hoops in order to smoke it legally, when they can purchase without a doctor’s order and use at leisure to alleviate physical discomfort? Cannabis has been shown to reduce discomfort associated with AIDS, chemotherapy, general pain, and glaucoma. Cannabis has also been shown to provide relief from spasms that result from multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease (Poindexter, 2014). 
Illinois taxpayers want to see freedom ring and watch as this budding industry provides another much-needed income source that does not involve the forced theft of a greater percentage of their hard-earned paychecks. 


Poindexter, O. (2014) Available at: says-end-marijuana-prohibition

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