With New York allowing the use of medical cannabis and my own home state of New Hampshire pushing harder to make recreational self-medication possible, I figure it’s about time to discuss the up and downsides of this popular drug.
Now, speaking personally, I believe in reserving any kind of recreational substance – alcohol, tobacco, etc. – for VERY special and appropriate occasions. That way they carry more meaning and are more satisfying than if you contently indulge every night. What I’m attempting to say is that, regardless of your stance on the issue, marijuana is one of those things that need to be filed under “enjoy responsibly” and that I don’t approve of or encourage people to recreate scenes from their favorite slacker comedies.
That disclaimer out of the way, let’s begin the discussion.
What Legalized Marijuana Can Do For Us
Firstly, note that, unlike the case of alcohol and nicotine poisoning, it’s practically impossible to overdose on marijuana. A study by Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young shows that the LD-50 (the dosage needed to cause death in fifty percent of cases) of THC, the active chemical in marijuana is 20,000 to 40,000 milligrams for every kilogram of body weight. That means the average adult would have to consume close to 1,500 pounds of weed in under fifteen minutes in order to overdose, making it a safer alternative to alcohol and tobacco.
Secondly, there is a financial advantage to consider. According to a study by the ACLU, more than 3.6 billion dollars were spent in 2010 to enforce marijuana possession law and estimate that a total 20 billion dollars will be spent in the next six years. That’s a lot of money being spent on something that could be regulated in the same manner alcohol and tobacco.
Speaking of the regulation, money could also be recouped through taxes as alcohol and tobacco are. Research from the Cato Institute has found that 8.7 billion dollars in federal and state tax revenue could by generated annually if marijuana was legalized and taxed.
What Legalized Marijuana Can Do TO Us
Despite overdose being nearly impossible, there are still health risks associated with marijuana use. After all, inhaling smoke – any kind of smoke – is not good for the lungs. Also, it does impair judgment and thinking even though the effects are temporary.
If we are going to legalize it, we will have to set a system in place to properly punish those who abuse the privilege of self-medication just as we do now for public intoxication. This will mean an initial cost to train police and give them the necessary tools and resources. But, as we have established, the money saved on enforcing possession law and earned through taxes will more than enough to compensate for this.
Should We Legalize It?
Honestly, legalizing recreational marijuana could open a lot of potential possibilities. The only issue is making sure others are responsible with their use. Before any of us can go ahead and make it possible to enjoy weed casually, we first need to make sure we can discourage people from abusing it and hurting themselves and others in the progress.
I guess the message to take away from this is this; DON’T just say “no”; just say “I’ve had enough.” If this new policy comes your way, don’t be irresponsible with it. Be an adult and enjoy while moderating yourself.