Puff, Puff, Legalize?
By: Ted Beust | Our Voice Contributor
The Devil’s Lettuce, Ganja, Weed, Mary Jane and Jazz Cabbage. These are a few nicknames for marijuana, a drug that has many calls for nationwide legalization.
States such as Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, California, Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont and Washington D.C. have already voted in favor of legalizing marijuana.
A few central states: Michigan, Oklahoma and North Dakota have legalization on the ballot this November. The minimum age for purchasing recreational marijuana in those states is 21.
Medical marijuana, however, has had the upper-hand in regards to the approval of legalization in recent years. But as of now, medical marijuana has been legalized in a total of 25 states including Ohio, Michigan, New York, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. In November, states like Utah and Missouri have medical marijuana on the ballot.
Polls such as Gallup and Pew Research have shown that Americans are in favor of the legalization of the plant. The 2018 Gallup poll shows that a total of 64 percent of Americans are in favor of legalization for recreational purposes. The 2019 Pew Research poll also shows that 61 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana.
There are multiple detractors on this issue, such as Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Patricia Ciambro. She has come out fervently against the legalization of recreational marijuana nationwide. During a September 28th discussion on marijuana at Wright State University’s campus radio station, Ciambro was asked if she is in favor of legalizing pot.
“One of the last things we need is fatter and dumber Ohioans,” she said. “One-hundred percent of drug addicts that I have seen for 35 years, their gateway drug was marijuana. They didn’t start out with cocaine, heroin, or oxycodones. They all started out with smoking pot.”
Then she was asked to touch on Mike DeWine and Richard Cordray’s views on marijuana.
“I do agree with DeWine. He’s still not my favorite person,” Ciambro said. “It does normalize it. Your kids see it. Eating gummies, smoking pot, and because it’s legal it’s like seeing your parents drinking a beer or having a glass of wine.”
The legalization of marijuana is one case that could create a lot of revenue for individual states. Of the nine states that have legalized marijuana, Alaska, has generated the largest amount of gross revenue with a total of $39.5 billion dollars.
One case for keeping pot illegal is how it impacts the mind. The Lancet Psychiatry, a science journal based in England, shows that current high school students who heavily smoke marijuana have a higher chance of not graduating high school (60 percent). Teens are also at a higher risk for addiction to substances such as opioids and alcohol, according to Lancet.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, also a Republican gubernatorial candidate, has also come out strongly against marijuana legalization. At the first governor’s debate on Sept. 19, 2018, he stated that he is strongly against the legalization of recreational marijuana.
“I went to Colorado to look how it’s working and you should take that trip yourself,” he said. “It’s an absolute disaster. You have babies and little toddlers who are going to the emergency room because they were eating gummy bears that had marijuana in them. You also forget that we know a lot more today than we did 40 or 50 years ago. Marijuana is at least twice as potent as it was then. In addition to that, what Colorado saw was an increase in the use of marijuana by minors.”
Prominent televangelist, former presidential candidate, and host of The 700 Club, Pat Robertson, is now against the legalization of marijuana. At one point he was in favor of legalization, but in 2014 said he was against pot legalization.
“The little kids are getting high. Do you want your little eighth grader to be stoned when he goes to school? Well, welcome to Colorado, where pot is legal,” Robertson said.
There are people who are in support of ganja, such as Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio.
“I am proud to stand on the side of justice by cosponsoring legislation to begin righting the wrongs of decades of misinformed drug policy and make marijuana legal in all 50 states,” the congressman said in a recent press release.
When asked about marijuana legalization at the debate, Democrat nominee for governor Richard Cordray first started his response by attacking DeWine’s stance on the issue. “You have been living in the past, and you are still living in the past,” he said.
But he also stated why he is in favor of legalizing pot.
“I have said it should be on the ballot because I respect the voters of the state who voted it down,” Cordray said. “When it goes to the ballot, I will cast my vote yes, to legalize it. It should be put to the voters of this state and I think that’s the appropriate thing to do.”
It should be noted that graph only measures American citizens.
A poll done by Harvard’s Kennedy Institute of Politics showed the differences between both the Republicans and Democrats on whether marijuana should be legalized. Fifty percent of Democrats and 49 percent of Republicans think it should be legalized.