Opinion

A High Society? Responses from The Phoenix’s Poll on the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana

Courtesy of Torben Hansen

Five states — including California and Massachusetts — will hold ballot measures this November that could legalize recreational marijuana use in those states.

Although the issue won’t be on the Illinois ballot this November, The Phoenix wanted to know: What are the opinions surrounding recreational marijuana use? Below are some of the anonymous responses we received.

Marijuana should absolutely  be legalized. It poses no real danger to users and certainly does not threaten users any more than alcohol does. In fact, given that marijuana doesn’t inhibit motor control and judgement as severely as alcohol, it is arguably a much safer alternative to alcohol as a social drug, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. This question also completely misses the fact that medicinal marijuana, which I use, has numerous applications and is a much safer alternative to dangerous opioid and mind-altering pharmaceuticals.

Even though alcohol is legal, we have a problem with people driving intoxicated. My concern is we would have more people driving under the influence [of marijuana].

I’ve been very iffy about this topic. In an ideal world, yes, I think having legal marijuana would be a good thing. However, as Colorado has shown us, there are some pretty intense drawbacks to the specific ways that legal marijuana has taken effect. The sharp taxes on it create a lot of problems for poorer populations who use the drug. This means that even with legal recreational marijuana, a lot of people are still going to be arrested for distribution. This is almost exclusively impacting people of color and still contributing to institutional racism in the American justice system. If there were solutions for this, I would be 100 percent pro-legalization, but realistically, I think too many states would see it as an opportunity to make easy money and keep the sky-high taxes, Illinois included.

Yes! People use it even when it is not legal. Legalizing marijuana would make it safer for consumers as they would know where their product is coming from and what is in it.

Marijuana doesn’t hurt the body — as long as the brain is done developing, so after the age of 21 or so — and it provides a sense of relief and happiness to users every day. That leaves the country with a drug that is positive, yet is still viewed negatively by many. To those people, wouldn’t you rather this ‘negative’ drug be ran by the government instead of drug cartels? If your son or daughter is going to smoke, wouldn’t you rather them smoke clean, pure marijuana instead of marijuana that could be laced with something fatal? I’m sure points could be made in opposition to this argument, but with the current facts the legalization of marijuana is the best  path forward.

[I’m] not a very habitual marijuana user, but I’d like to see a decrease in the number of non-violent offenders locked up [because of the drug.] Whether someone wants to use or not has no impact on me, but disproportionately arresting black and brown men is contributing directly to the systemic problems surrounding race we have in our country. Is this a stretch? No.

Yes, [marijuana should be recreationally legalized] because of its financial benefits, alleviation of nonviolent offenders in captivity, medical applications and the deep rooted racism and corporate profiteering that helped make it illegal.

People like myself are going to smoke it whether or not it is legal, so we might as well regulate it so people are not buying from drug dealers. The act of smoking marijuana does not harm the people around you; there is no negative externality associated with marijuana, therefore, the cost to society is very small.

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