California, Ohio both have much to gain if marijuana was legalized
Published: Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2012 23:06
Recently, California created a voter initiative to take place in November that would legalize and regulate recreational marijuana. Under the proposal, only those who are at least 21 years old would be allowed to buy the drug, and individuals could own no more than an ounce of the plant.
The issue is not new in California. Ever since the state failed to legalize marijuana in 1972, the issue has been an unfailing source of debate. But the conflict is flaming hotter than ever as voters prepare to determine the drug's fate.
Opponents of the initiative, such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, say that the legalization of marijuana would cause more vehicle fatalities, while others contend marijuana will only cause more damage to society, similarly to alcohol and tobacco.
This begs the question: Why are potentially fatal substances such as alcohol and tobacco legal and easily distributed while marijuana is not? Why is alcohol socially accepted while marijuana is demonized and even grouped with hardcore drugs such as heroin and cocaine?
In a country suffering from a massive deficit, high unemployment rates and a recession, the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana would benefit Californians. According to the New York Times, advocates argue that the legalization could raise more than $1.4 billion for California, money that could be used to create more jobs.
In addition, the legalization would save police and prison resources and give law enforcement more time to catch real criminals such as murderers, child molesters and thieves.
Ohio could also benefit from a similar initiative. Though Ohio has not taken the steps necessary to legalize pot, the state should follow California in making it a legally acceptable drug. With an unemployment rate higher than 10 percent in the state, Ohioans could desperately use that money for more jobs as well as to improve our Columbus inner city schools.
While talking to my father months before California's initiative, I asked the baby boomer if he had ever smoked pot. He openly admitted that he had and said that marijuana gave him "the munchies." He also said that the majority of his generation smoked pot at some point during the 1970s. With the popularity of marijuana still present, it only makes sense for California and the rest of America to do what makes this country the strongest, most capitalistic nation in the world: make marijuana into a legitimate business and exploit it as much as possible.