The Arising Acceptance of Marijuana

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The Arising Acceptance of Marijuana

As medical marijuana begins to become legalized in some states, so does its universal acceptance.

As medical marijuana begins to become legalized in some states, so does its universal acceptance.

Photo from MCT

As medical marijuana begins to become legalized in some states, so does its universal acceptance.

Photo from MCT

Photo from MCT

As medical marijuana begins to become legalized in some states, so does its universal acceptance.

Lola Akinlade, Staff Writer

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More and more people have started to view marijuana as a permissible substance to use, and every day, it’s becoming more accepted in our society, especially in the younger generation, as survey results show from pewresearch.org, a news and politics website . So, why is this federally illicit drug starting to become more tolerated?

As mentioned on Governing.org, a website that covers politics, policy and management for state and local government leaders, 23 states and the District of Columbia currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some way. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Nineteen other states have laws legalizing medical marijuana, however, specific laws vary in each state; included in these states is Illinois.

“I think [marijuana legalization] is something to pay attention to. More states are legalizing marijuana, which in my opinion is a good thing,” sophomore and marijuana legalization supporter Emily Benish stated.

While marijuana legalization is becoming more accepted, negative health effects and other reasons sway some people to still be opposed to the drug.

“I do not agree with the legalization of medicinal marijuana because it makes the access to marijuana more prevalent. Even though you need a permit or whatever to get marijuana, it still becomes much easier to get because retail stores can sell it…I feel like it is promoting the use of marijuana and almost tempting more people to use it,” sophomore Kylie Rodriguez stated.

As said on Gallup.com, a website run by a prominent polling company, in 1969, 12 percent of people thought marijuana use should be legal; but in 2015, that number rose to 58 percent of Americans. Additionally, 71 percent of 18-34 year-olds believe marijuana should be legal today. This confirms that as more research and medical advances are being discovered about marijuana, the acceptance increases.

“Honestly, I think marijuana is fine, but if you use it just for status reasons, it’s stupid. People use it for stress or pain, so it’s understandable,” sophomore Ellie Cho stated.

According to Drugabuse.gov, marijuana has different properties that may help treat a range of illnesses or symptoms, which is why some people argue for its legalization. As stated on CBS News, Illinois lawmakers legalized medical marijuana in August 2013, but there was a long process of approving and setting up licensed cultivation centers and dispensaries, so it wasn’t until Nov. 9th of this year  that the first dispensaries were allowed to begin selling legal medical cannabis.

I think marijuana is very beneficial to people who need it for medical reasons. It’s beneficial because it helps with anxiety, many diseases, calming cancer and other kinds of patients, and it hasn’t proven to be addictive,” sophomore marijuana legalization supporter Lizzie Foley stated.

While medical uses for marijuana may be beneficial, as said on Drugabuse.gov, when teenagers use marijuana, the drug may reduce thinking, memory, and learning functions and affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions. Also, the site reported that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens had an ongoing cannabis use disorder and lost an average of eight IQ points between ages 13 and 38

“I do not agree with the use of marijuana. Even if you ‘do it for fun,’ it still is not right. It will give you long-term health damage and is illegal (in some states), so that is a huge sign that you should not be using it because you can go to jail for it. Is it really so fun that you would risk going to jail?” Rodriguez asked.

Contrary to this, others see the negative effects as something that is based on the person using it.

“Anything in life can be beneficial or harmful to you, it just matters how you go about things,” Benish stated.

Additionally, on medicaldaily.com, a health and science news website, in a comparative assessment published in Scientific Reports, alcohol was found to be 114 times more deadly than marijuana.

“I think it should be legalized because if alcohol is legal (for those 21 and older), weed should be too. They would both be used recreationally, and both have pros and cons. It’s not that one is worse for you than the other. If you learn how to use weed in a positive way, it isn’t harmful,” Foley stated.

As reported The Washington Post, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently announced his support for removing marijuana from a list of the most dangerous drugs outlawed by the federal government.

“Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use…That’s wrong. That has got to change,” Sanders said in a speech to an audience of 1,700 students.

Sanders is the first presidential candidate to call for marijuana to be completely removed from the schedule of controlled substances, and a challenger of his, candidate Hillary Clinton, responded to this.

“We have got to stop imprisoning people who use marijuana,” she said. “Therefore, we need more states, cities, and the federal government to begin to address this so that we don’t have this terrible result that Senator Sanders was talking about where we have a huge population in our prisons for nonviolent, low-level offenses that are primarily due to marijuana,” Clinton agreed, as reported by CNN politics.

Some students agree that marijuana is not an effective way to  define the morality of people.

“We believe marijuana is bad because people don’t understand it all…just because people smoke weed doesn’t mean they’re bad people,” Cho expressed.

Today, some people find judgments associated with negative stereotypes of marijuana smokers to be uncommon.

“I think the bad stigma of pot is in the past. I think as we scientifically learned more about it and its benefits, more people became open-minded to it. I also think it’s not so much looked at as a ‘gateway drug’ because it’s much more common,” Benish stated.

However, as marijuana legalization continues to get more and more popular, certain negative connotations associated with smokers continue to arise. As stated on The Huffington Post, common weed-smoker stereotypes include, “the lazy loafer,” “the unkempt hippie,” and “the sloppy slacker”.

“I do not believe it is right for one to judge another. If a person were to do marijuana, it does not mean they are a bad person or are always doing bad things. They also should not be pictured, or looked at any differently than anyone else. Everyone is different, so who would you be to judge someone else for what they do? You do not need to talk or be friends with the person, but you can at least be kind to them,” Rodriguez stated.

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