For Sunday’s challenge, we were asked to pick a story from the news and discuss it. The story that most caught my eye yesterday was one in the local paper about marijuana use in Colorado and Wyoming. This story was interesting to me because it is an issue that hits pretty close to home, as I live in Wyoming and have seen the troubles drugs can cause in a person’s life.
Colorado, having legalized marijuana, is in some sense an experiment for how society handles having the drug legalized. But, as many people in Wyoming are asking, what are the repercussions in neighboring states? Wyoming has extremely strict laws about marijuana use/possession and over the last couple of years has seen some increases in drug seizures by police forces. At the same time, the state is spending thousands of dollars in trying to control the drug when that money could possibly be used in better places.
The situation thus creates two general perspectives. As the article says, Some argue decriminalization would be a good first step on the path toward legalization. Others contend such a path would open the floodgates for more cannabis use and driving under the influence dangers, as well as pave the way for increased usage of harder drugs, such as methamphetamine and heroin.
Personally, I am not for drugs in the least, even marijuana, but that is a personal choice. Watching a loved one make bad choice after bad choice because of one marijuana use that obliterated the future he could have had made me wary of all drug use, even legalized. In addition, I am concerned about the claim that marijuana could be a gateway drug. That being said, I think that the arguments against decriminalizing marijuana do not hold as much strength as their proponents believe they do.
When I think about the arguments against legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana, I can’t help but think about the prohibition era, which a speaker in the article also touched on. The speaker said, “During the prohibition days, you still had people that partook in alcohol, but the majority didn’t because they knew it was illegal…When they legalized it, more people started to drink, and they only started because it’s now legal.”
This may be true, but for me, the underlying fact is, people still drank during the prohibition and laws didn’t stop them in the lease. The criminalization of alcohol was a waste of time, effort and money. And, unlike what many alcohol opponents believed, society did not in fact fall apart when it was legalized. So, I can’t help but wonder if marijuana were legalized or decriminalized within reason (ahem, treating it similarly to alcohol with regards to driving and safety) would society not fare similarly to the way it has for many a year now? Yes, there may be an increase in its use, but like alcohol, just because it is legal does not mean that everyone will become addicted. More people may use it perhaps, but most people have come to believe that an occasional drink is not too harmful. Could the same be said of marijuana use?
In addition, with concerns to Wyoming, I believe that some decriminalization is necessary. The bill discussed in the article, which Representative Charles Pelkey would like to introduce, seems absolutely essential because frankly, the criteria and punishment for marijuana felonies in Wyoming is absurd. For instance, it seems ridiculous to me that the felony threshold for marijuana is less than it is for both DUIs and battery. Battery, for goodness sake. Under these laws it is more deplorable to have been caught with more than three ounces of marijuana than it is to beat a member of your household. That seems pretty messed up if the person with the marijuana was simply caught with it or had consumed it without causing anyone or anything harm. Battery always causes harm and it takes three incidents over a ten year period to become a felony charge.
At this point, the bill is still in the works and the discussion is still up in the air. There is so much to think about on this issue and it has been quite the hot topic on the newspaper forum.
So, now I might ask, what do you think? Is your state facing similar issues?