To legalize or to not legalize? That is a question that has been a topic of conversation for the people in Utah for the past year. Currently there is a ballot initiative called Proposition 2 that would legalize the use of medical marijuana for people with qualifying illnesses. Some of these illnesses are HIV, AIDs, autoimmune disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, epilepsy and other seizures disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism, and many more.
Medicinal marijuana helps relieve pain and relax muscles, and that is why many people would like to legalize it. The chemicals in cannabis protect normal neurons, and make the abnormal ones not stand out. Senior Kendell Clarke said, “I think this is a good idea, a drug with the potential and ability to not only save lives, but to help a very wide range of people with various illnesses and symptoms.” Clarke then said “It can be ministered in safe, secure, and regulated capacities.”
Psychology teacher, Carly Lloyd agreed with Clarke and said she did not have a problem with marijuana being legalized for medical reasons, but if it is “just for recreation then it’s a no.”
Since many Western states have legalized marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes, some people can’t separate the idea of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana from each other.
Washington was the first state to legalize marijuana both medically and recreationally. Two things that have happened since Washington legalized marijuana: there is a decrease in violent crime and a massive drop in marijuana arrests. In the states that marijuana has been legalized, the crime rate has gone down 10-15%.
The state of Utah has admitted to having overcrowded state jails because of the arrests including possession and use of marijuana, among other things. People get taken into custody for possessing/using marijuana which is causing prisons to be overpopulated. Sophomore Cameron Hill said, “Prison isn’t the place for someone who qualifies for the use of medical marijuana.” Hill said, “If marijuana could be legalized even if it was just medically, our state prisons would have less inmates.”
However, not all effects of legalizing marijuana are positive. Colorado, who recently legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes has seen some negative side effects such as: an increase in homelessness, a doubling of fatal traffic collisions involving marijuana-intoxicated drivers, and a rise in drug violations in Colorado schools.
Since there are both negative and positive side effects in surrounding states, many people believe that the state of Utah needs to have more research and studies done before making a decision on marijuana. Social Studies teacher Shawn Fessler said “I do not think there is enough information for people to decide whether or not it should be legal.”
One thing to consider is revenue. Art teacher Adriana Moore said, “Revenue is also affected, boarders are affected, jobs are affected, not just the use of it, but lives are affected. You can’t just do one thing and not see the ripple effects of everything else.” Revenue of the state, would increase because because now dispensaries of Utah would be collecting the funds that illegal drug dealers would make otherwise. Hill agreed and said, “There will always be people who will sell drugs illegally, but legalizing marijuana medically could definitely cut back on how much money they make, and increase how much money the state makes.”
Whatever side of the issue you are on, we will all see how it plays out when voters hit the polls next month.