By Austin Dawn
When addressing the media, then-U.S. Representative Dan Quayle said, “Congress should definitely consider decriminalizing possession of marijuana. We should concentrate on prosecuting the rapists and burglars who are a menace to society.”
Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that can be consumed in many ways. Humans have used marijuana since prehistory for religious, spiritual, or medical purposes. In the early 20th century, the possession, use, or sale of marijuana became illegal in most parts of the world.
I believe the benefits of legalizing marijuana could have an incredible effect on our country. Prisons would be less congested, economies could climb out of debt, and people could fulfill their medical needs.
In our current economic crisis, the decriminalization of marijuana can potentially become a billion dollar industry and boost economies.
In 2008, state and federal governments received over $20 billion from taxpayers on alcohol and tobacco taxes.
It’s estimated that annual revenues for marijuana could approach $14 billion, which translates into roughly $1.4 billion in taxes. If marijuana were to be legalized, regulated, and taxed, it would significantly help the local and national economies.
In spite of all the benefits that come with legalization, there is no doubt that marijuana is bad for the brain.
Researchers agree that the chemical in marijuana, THC, affects areas in the brain associated with thinking, memory, concentration, sensation, time perception, and emotions.
It is still up for debate whether marijuana is linked to anxiety, depression, or psychotic thinking, but researchers are confident that heavy use of weed will lead to long-term brain damage. Not only does marijuana affect the brain, but it also affects the heart and sperm. Marijuana is a serious respiratory irritant and can be more harmful than tobacco.
These daunting specifics are part of the reason why a compromise has yet to be reached between the two opposing sides.
So, when Dan Quayle said that we should concentrate on arresting murderers and less on drug offenders, he might not have known how true his sentiments would be 30 years later. A way to appease both sides of the opposition is to allow for dispensaries (stores that sell medical marijuana) to be federally legal. Currently, dispensaries are legal by state law in California, but the federal government still sees it as illegal.
In my opinion, the legalization of dispensaries would be an effective tool for helping our country climb out of its current economic state. ♦
Austin Dawn can be reached at email@example.com.
(The stories in this issue are written by SYLP students, not Northwest Asian Weekly staff. Opinions herein do not necessarily represent the viewpoint of the newspaper.)