The Streak

Legal Marijuana In the Garden State?

By Katie Winch

Layout Editor

Con Legal Marijuana

Since the election of Phil Murphy, incoming Democratic governor of New Jersey, the promise of marijuana legalization has been debated on whether it is necessary and appropriate to make the recreational use of marijuana legal.

Marijuana has countless negative physical and mental effects that can plague users for the rest of their adult lives. Marijuana  comprises of leaves, flowers, seeds and stems of the Cannabis indica plant. This plant contains a harmful mind-altering chemical called THC, along with other harmful compounds.

Since Colorado, the first state to legalize marijuana, legalized it for medical uses in 2009 and other uses in 2012, many issues started sprouting.  According to a report by Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, titled “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact,” the impact legal marijuana has had is negative.  The report states that the majority of driving-under-the-influence arrests involve marijuana, and 25 to 40 percent were marijuana alone.   

In 2012, 26.8 percent of college students were current marijuana users, compared to the 18.8 percent nationally. Colorado serves as the lab rat that has experienced backlash from the legalization of marijuana.

When an individual smokes marijuana, the chemical THC enters lungs and then travels to the bloodstream.  From there, THC continues up to the brain and other organs. When THC enters the body, it over-activates parts of the brain with the most receptors, which causes the “high” that a person feels when smoking marijuana.

The short-term effects of this “high” are, but not limited to, altered senses, change in mood, impaired body movement, and difficulty thinking and problem solving.

Marijuana smoke irritates the lungs, and those who smoke it often feel the same effects as if smoking tobacco. Marijuana also increases the heart rate for three hours after being smoked, which increases the chances of a heart attack.

The effects of smoking marijuana are not only physical, as the mental effects are more damaging. The most prominent effect is similar to worsening schizophrenia, a severe mental disorder with symptoms including hallucinations, paranoia and disorganized thinking.  Marijuana has also been known to be linked to other mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts among people ages 13-18.

These effects take time to develop, unlike the immediate “high,” but smoking marijuana harbors consequences for young people. Specifically, high schools sport a random drug testing system for their athletes. With marijuana in an athlete’s system, failing a drug test is almost guaranteed.

In our school district, a recent study showed that 83 percent of the student body is free from the use of marijuana. This is an impressive statistic, but the legalization of marijuana can only lower that.

Making marijuana legal only makes these facts more relevant, considering that the drug will be easier to obtain than ever before. The legalization of marijuana should be thoroughly rethought before attempting to pass new legislation, because in doing so, the state government would only put its citizens in more danger than ever before.

 

 

By: Ian Hale

Opinion Editor

Pro Legal Marijuana

 

The recent election of Phil Murphy for New Jersey Governor has delivered the debate about legalized recreational marijuana use directly onto the front steps of every New Jersey citizen, and with Murphy’s promise to put forward legislation to legalize marijuana for adults over the age of 21 within his first 100 days in office, the people of New Jersey need to ask themselves: Do we want legal weed in our state?

For this New Jersey citizen, the answer is clear: Yes, the decriminalization of recreational marijuana use would benefit us all.

From an economic standpoint, legalizing marijuana would significantly benefit New Jersey. States that have already legalized recreational marijuana have seen massive increases in tax revenue from the sale of Marijuana products. According to reports from The Boston Globe, The Oregonian and The Washington Post respectively, Colorado has brought in over $135 million, Oregon has brought in $14.9 million, and Washington has collected over $220 million. 

Due to New Jersey’s close proximity to metropolitan cities such as New York City, Baltimore and Philadelphia, it is estimated that the tax revenue of legal marijuana in New Jersey could surpass $300 million. While any state government would obviously benefit from such a large increase in tax revenue, New Jersey is in dire need of it.

Our state is currently entrenched in a $135.7 billion pension deficit. The New Jersey’s Division of Pensions and Benefits is the least-funded of any state. As a result, New Jersey’s working class is being forced into increasingly late retirements, saturating the state’s job market and leaving young students and college graduates without adequate job openings or wages. Experts say that if this deficit is left unchecked, it could cause an economic crisis in the near future.

While it is unrealistic to assume that the tax revenue from marijuana will significantly divert this crisis, it will undoubtedly go towards the retirement of hardworking New Jersey citizens.

As far as the health effects of marijuana, it cannot be argued that marijuana use is completely safe. Inhaling any substance can cause damage and strain to the lungs, and excessive marijuana use can permanently slow cognitive function and cause dependency.

However, if we criminalized all of the things that are bad for us, we would all have to give up alcohol, fast food, cigarettes, caffeine, red meat, loud music, car emissions and our smartphones. For many Americans, these things are a part of everyday life: morning coffee, bacon with breakfast, blasting the radio while commuting, a smoke break, steak or burgers for dinner, wine at night.

We’re surrounded by things that are bad for us, but we are free to indulge in them as much as we like because what we all do to our own bodies is up to us. Why should marijuana be treated as an exception? As long as tobacco and alcohol products are freely available to purchase for individuals of legal age, recreational marijuana should not be treated any differently. It would need to be regulated and kept out of the hands of minors, but for consenting adults, marijuana should be decriminalized and legal for recreational use.

 

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Legal Marijuana In the Garden State?