Controversial Marijuana Laws
Americans have long debated legal recreational marijuana pros and cons, as well as the positives and negatives of medical marijuana. Never has the debate been more heated than now, when controversial laws have been passed in a number of states. More than 20 states have passed laws legalizing medical marijuana, or cannabis, while two states now allow legal recreational use of the drug.
Pros And Cons Of Legalizing Marijuana
Many people can see both sides of the issue, but it remains one that is highly controversial.
The Pros Of Recreational Marijuana
Last year, two states voted to legalize recreational marijuana: Washington and Colorado. More people in these states supported the legalization than were against it, and yet it remains highly controversial. Supporters of recreational cannabis being legal have several reasons they see the recent laws as positive.
Perhaps the biggest reason is that the states will have a new source of tax revenue. The idea is that state governments, many of which have big fiscal deficits, can regulate and heavily tax the legal pot sales. Other reasons supporters cite for legalizing the drug include greater freedoms for law-abiding citizens and a more modern attitude toward pot.
The Cons Of Decriminalizing Cannabis
Not everything about making marijuana legal for recreational use is positive. Critics have plenty to say about the new laws, probably more than the supporters. Legal marijuana poses a number of issues. The first is safety for individuals. Marijuana is a drug; it causes side effects and impairs judgment. It is also addictive and can lead to a lifelong dependence, especially with frequent use.
Legal marijuana is also a problem of public health. While individuals may now have the right to choose to use the drug, the rest of us are not able to choose not to be impacted. The most obvious risk is the possibility of impaired driving. Drunk drivers cause thousands of accidents, injuries and deaths every year. High drivers stand to cause even more.
Finally, there is the issue of the impact of legal marijuana on young people. Of all the cons for legalizing marijuana, this may be the most troubling. Although its use is to be restricted to adults, legal marijuana means that young people will inevitably have greater access to the drug. Currently, alcohol is the substance most abused by teens. This can be attributed to its legal status and ready availability. If every state legalizes pot, you can expect teens will get access to marijuana as well. The drug can cause long-term problems in young users including impaired memory and cognitive functioning.
Legalized marijuana will likely remain a controversial topic of debate throughout the country. Although two states have allowed recreational use of the drug for adults, the possible negative consequences of these moves are great. Exactly how the drug will start to effect young people and public health remains to be seen.