To legalize weed or not to, that seems to be the question. Whether you’re a pot smoker like Cheech & Chong or die-hard anti-Cannabis supporter, the opinion battle regarding legalization marijuana is a tough call no matter where you stand. The war on marijuana has been a long and useless battle since it was made illegal in the 1930’s, and by no coincidence just after the prohibition on alcohol was lifted in 1933. We’ve come a long way, baby: Currently, in four U.S. states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington) the sale and possession of marijuana is now legal for both medical and non-medical use. In states like California, for example, marijuana is legal for medicinal use and in New York, non-smoking medical marijuana has been legalized. Here is how the map is divided state by state according to restrictions.
So what are the pros? Regardless of your feelings about legalizing marijuana, it’s hard to deny that legal weed would be a bonanza for cash-strapped states. Since there are now cannabis stores in Colorado, where you can walk in and purchase pot for recreational usage, there are now more jobs available in this once depressed economy. Like any business, the marijuana industry, includes its distributors, producers, promoters, down to its “bud tenders.” Both states are seeing both positive and negative results since they decided to legalize weed. One of the pluses is the revenue its bringing into the economies of the states where it’s legal. With Colorado and Washington starting to tax and regulate recreational pot-smoking sales, and medical marijuana legal in 18 other states, there’s finally some solid numbers on the industry’s value. According to Forbes, based on an estimated total market for Colorado’s recreational marijuana use worth $605 million, the various taxes would produce over $130 million in revenue in 2014 alone. That’s dope!
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But the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the argument. A new survey from the National Institutes of Health reported that marijuana use among young people is on the rise. And with all this relaxing in attitudes toward marijuana use, adolescents are not aware how smoking weed can impact their memory processing and brain functions. Studies show that the way adult brains process weed is completely different than how teen brains respond to pot smoking. Bottom line and a major con in the argument is that marijuana impacts the developing brain much differently than it impacts the adult brain so that teens who use marijuana expose themselves to abnormal changes in their brain structures, particularly with regard to working memory.
When it comes to legalizing marijuana and the subject if adolescents, according to Kathy Meyer, a senior research scientist at The Treatment Research Institute, “It affects memory processing, your ability to control your emotions. For adolescents, these are issues that they struggle with anyway because of their developmental period.”
In turn, the medical benefits of marijuana on a long list of diseases and ailments is outstanding and according to DrugLibrary.org in at least 10,000 years of human consumption, there have been no documented deaths as a result of marijuana overdose. While binge alcohol drinking and smoking cigarettes are death sentences. As the debate on whether to legalize weed or not goes on, objectivity would suggest that either everything that is bad for us should be illegal, including sugar and high fat content foods, or we should allow adults to make mature decisions about what they want to put into their bodies. But we must be clear with our children early on about the cons of marijuana use on their developing brains.