Puff, Puff, Pass on Prop 1

Shallow Focus Photography of Cannabis Plant. (Pexels/Michael Fischer)

On November 6, Michigan residents will have the opportunity to vote on Proposal 18-1: the legalization of recreational marijuana usage. People over 21 years of age would be allowed to purchase and use marijuana products, as well as grow their own plants.

There would be restrictions placed on how much a person possessed, and how it was being stored. Sales of marijuana would have a 10% tax placed on them, which would fund schools and roads near marijuana businesses, as well as provide funding for clinical trials and implementation costs. Fewer people would be arrested for possession, and cities and counties would benefit from the taxes.

It all sounds great, so why should we reject it? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.” The NIDA states that the short-term effects of marijuana usage include hallucinations, altered senses, mood swings, impaired memory and body movements and difficulty thinking. Long-term use can inhibit brain development, especially when used by younger people, a loss of IQ points and impaired memory and thinking abilities.

These symptoms would impact people’s abilities to function, similarly to how they might act when drunk. Impaired judgement may lead people to believe that they are perfectly fine to drive, but driving while high will only increase the risks of car accidents, much like drunk driving does.

But age restrictions mean that underage people wouldn’t have access to marijuana, right? This would cut down on risks of slowed brain development as people mature. Unfortunately, just because underage use is illegal, does not mean it won’t still happen. The CDC reports that 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States is consumed by people ages 12 to 20. Alcohol use is restricted to people 21 and over, yet underage people still have access to it. Why would marijuana usage will be any different?

The Detroit Free Press reported that “in the past five years, 117,123 Michiganders have been arrested and charged with misdemeanor marijuana offenses and 49,928 of those people have been convicted.”

Although the passage of Prop 1 would make it easier for people to clear their prior convictions and criminal records, this will not make up for previous disadvantages that people have faced, and will not give people the years of their lives back that were spent in prison due to these charges. This also will not help people in poverty, or who may not be able to afford lawyers to clear their records. While politicians may be able to regulate and tax marijuana, there are no regulations on common sense. It’s better to limit the drugs available on the streets to cut back on the risks.

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