Assistant manager Dunn Ericson refills a jar of medical marijuana at the River Rock Medical Marijuana Center in Denver May 16. Credit: Courtesy of MCT

When faced with the idea of marijuana being legal across our great nation, I think some people are afraid the “potheads” everywhere will come out en masse to toast, or light, to this special occasion if it ever occurs.

While I don’t believe in this premise of marijuana users joining forces to celebrate, I do think we will be living in a country willing to accept marijuana into the mainstream and it might happen sooner than most think.

With 21 states, and Washington D.C., having legalized the use of marijuana for medical reasons, I think our country is on the path to nationwide legalization and I believe this occurrence will happen for all the right reasons.


Financial benefits

Something that cannot be argued is the stimulation, or boost, selling and taxing marijuana will provide to both the state and national economies. Take the lone state thus far to implement selling recreational marijuana, Colorado. On the first day of 2014 alone, pot shops opened across the state totaled over $1 million in sales, according to multiple sources. Combine that with a nearly 29 percent tax rate statewide, and you can do the math from there. Where there is legalization, there is a great chance to make green, and not just the marijuana kind.


Medical benefits

Not only will the sales and taxes from marijuana help provide additional relief to our economy, marijuana also can provide an enormous amount of care to those who are sick or suffer from chronic illness and pain. Yes, I understand some people will smoke marijuana just to get high, but let’s not let this notion deter us from seeing the bigger picture of relief marijuana can provide.

The more you watch the news, the more you will see parents allowing children suffering from seizures, cancer or any other disease to digest marijuana as a way to cope with the pains they face on a routine basis. People with an existing form of HIV/AIDS suffer from a lack of appetite and lack of lean muscle mass. Marijuana allows these patients to develop an appetite and digest needed nutrients they could not stomach before.

Those who suffer from Multiple Sclerosis face physical and mental damage throughout their lives, specifically through a destruction of the immune system. Two chemicals within marijuana, THC and CBD, are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and help reduce the unnatural amount of inflammation which occurs within those who carry MS. Another condition marijuana routinely treats is Glaucoma, a progressive form of blindness because of increased blood pressure inside of the eye. Treatment from marijuana reduces the amount of pressure that forms within the eye, but also helps to slow blood flow into the eye, helping to alleviate the loss of vision which can occur.

The last forms of illness marijuana helps to combat is cancer. Not only does marijuana help treat those with cancer, it can also provide a relief for those who have to face going through strenuous amounts of chemotherapy to fight cancer from spreading even greater. Those who battle chemotherapy are known to struggle against extreme bouts of nausea, vomiting and anxiety. With marijuana in hand, chemicals within the drug help to lessen these excessive amounts of sickness.


Compared to other drugs

For all those who oppose recreational or medicinal usage of marijuana, let me ask you a question: When was the last time you had a drink or multiple drinks of alcohol? Or, when was the last time you or someone you know took prescribed medications? We already have legal, mind-altering or oppressing drugs on the market, why do we need one more?

That’s the problem I have with those who say marijuana gets you high off of your mind and makes your motor skills function improperly. News flash, both alcohol and prescription medicine do the exact same thing. So how as a person or as a society do we come off denouncing the former but allowing the latter to exist within our world? Let me throw a few numbers out here to make my point a little more clear. The first number is 20,000: the number of cancer deaths each year caused by alcohol consumption.

The next number is 10,228, or the number of people who died because of drunk driving in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In all, these number of deaths account for 31 percent of all driving deaths in that year.

The last number is 37,485: the number of people who died from overdoses on prescription pain and anxiety medications in 2009, according to data from CDCP.

Let those numbers sink in before we struggle to understand why “potheads” think it is cool for marijuana to be legal, yet each year we turn a cold shoulder to those who suffer and die from “legal” accidents each year. Sparing going into the ongoing suffering from those who are bound by their addictions to alcohol or pain medications, such as depression, suicides or homicides, we must tackle the number of cannabis-induced deaths we face as a country each year. Looking at past studies, I came to this conclusion: there are no credible, medical reports stating consuming marijuana will cause you to die. Are we sure we are fighting a war against the right drugs?



For all those out there who believe marijuana shouldn’t be legal, if we ever have a conversation about the topic, please spare me the ignorance which can occur when debating the real issues of marijuana. I agree there are certain times when you should not smoke weed, be it before work, while operating a vehicle or if you are pregnant. I do not and will not ever condone these types of actions. But let us not pretend these instances do not already occur routinely with other substances. Do not waver from common sense into stupidity by saying pot smokers are fat and lazy. Asinine and unprovable statements such as these deter you from seeing the bigger picture in the war on marijuana. According to an August Gallup poll, 36 percent of those surveyed between the age of 18 and 29 have tried marijuana. The percentage was higher between ages 30 and 64. How could all these people be lazy and unproductive toward society’s greater cause?

We are under this umbrella which allows us to think drinking alcohol is fun, exciting and knows how to create a good time. Like the song says, it’s always five o’clock somewhere, right? Alcohol impairs your motor functions, the ability to talk, stand or see, and yet there are people who are still fearful of those who like to get “high.” I don’t know about everyone else, but most people I know who smoke routinely find themselves hands deep in a bag of chips while lying on their couch. These are not the people we should fear, but like a herd of sheep we will succumb to the pressures of society to fear the unknown and not make logical decisions for ourselves. But, if as a society we ever decide to remove our beer lenses and replace them with intuitive lenses such as common sense, we might begin to realize how much harm we already do to ourselves and how marijuana could play a role in helping to cure those damages.