Is marijuana legislation sensible?


Neil Murphy, Staff Writer

One of the biggest issues regarding social policy in the United States of America is whether or not marijuana should be legalized and decriminalized. Look anywhere in the United States if you need to see this further.

According to the Defense Information System Agency’s website, there are a total of 11 states that have fully legalized marijuana usage medically and recreationally, as well as decriminalizing marijuana.

According to the same source, in 23 states the decision on marijuana legalization is mixed, with most of these states only having medical marijuana legalized.

Pennsylvania is one of the states that have a mixed legal status. Governor Tom Wolf announced on April 6th, 2016 that medical marijuana usage would be legalized.

In January of this year, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman announced he would be going on tour starting in February to tour 67 counties in Pennsylvania to listen to the public’s view on full marijuana legalization.

What is interesting to note is that despite solid support on this issue, the love for this issue is not entirely widespread.

According to an article published by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, less than half of Democrats (49 percent) support legalization while 29 percent oppose it. Meanwhile, 32% percent of Republicans support legalization and 50 percent of Republicans oppose it.

Will this bring people out to vote for this? According to the same source listed above, 23 percent of Americans say they are more likely to vote where marijuana legalization was an issue to vote on, 32 percent disagreed, and 43 percent stated that it was a “non-issue.”

However, when it is just about medical legalization, more people would be more likely to vote on this issue.

Why do individuals want to vote for medical marijuana instead of voting for overall legalization? It’s quite simple, it is strictly for medical purposes.

Despite hearing the word “medical,” do people know what medical marijuana does? Well according to Samuel T. Wilkins, M.D., not many people really do.

In Wilkins’ publication “More Reasons States Should Not Legalize Marijuana,” published in the journal Missouri Medicine in December of 2013, there are many negative reasons to not legalize marijuana. For one, there are the many effects on an individual, including cognitive decline and damage to organ systems like the respiratory, gastrointestinal and immune systems.

Another point Wilkins brings up is the effects on driving that marijuana has. According to the article, in many studies done on motor vehicle fatalities, marijuana is the most common drug detected in people besides alcohol. This leads us to ask the question, “Should we be regulating marijuana the same way as alcohol?”

One last point I would like to mention from this article would be the point of the potential for diversion. Many states that legalized marijuana allow individuals to grow their own marijuana, which can lead to contamination.

Individuals can be presented with the opportunity to go around laws and sell their own strains of marijuana instead of just going to dispensaries. Should this be regulated too?

The point of this article is not to say that marijuana is bad or that this shouldn’t be recognized. I am actually a supporter of full legalization. The main idea behind the article is far more than that. Just because we legalize marijuana doesn’t mean the issue is resolved there.

There are many kinks that need to be worked out, as it is a much deeper issue.  Legislators voting for legalization should keep issues brought up by individuals like Wilkins in mind.