Legalizing marijuana: a common feud in politics

Columnist

Marijuana is probably something most of us have seen, heard about or even experimented with (I won’t tell). It’s the third most popular drug behind alcohol and tobacco and over 69 million Americans over the age of twelve have tried it at least once.

Marijuana has recently been brought into the public’s awareness since voters in Colorado and Washington won the vote to “legalize” the recreational use of marijuana. The medical use of marijuana has been “legal” in many states for quite some time now, but these new laws would allow just about anyone of legal age to partake in the long-prohibited drug.

You may be wondering why I keep putting quotes around the words “legal” and “legalize.” Let me fill you in: even though the states of Colorado and Washington have made marijuana legal within their borders, the United States of America still recognizes it as an illegal drug and can still prosecute for use, sale or possession. In fact, Washington has yet to even legalize buying or selling marijuana. So, in other words, you can have up to an ounce, but you can’t buy it anywhere. And you can smoke it in Washington and Colorado but not in America… technically.

While the states, in my opinion, should have more say than the Federal government, the feds can technically override the state level laws. That being said, the states can certainly get things moving in the right direction. With the economy down and the national debt up, I wouldn’t doubt it if our legislatures found legitimate warrant for the legalization and taxation of marijuana in the states that want it. According to a 2005 study by Jeffrey Miron, professor of economics at Harvard University, the combined savings and revenues for the legalization of marijuana could be between $10 billion and $14 billion each year if it were taxed similarly to alcohol or tobacco.

These two states have taken a step in the direction of the end of marijuana prohibition. Now it’s up to the Federal government to follow suit.