California needs to legalize recreational marijuana use

By Victoria Kernen

California is usually portrayed as a “hippie state” in movies thanks to its leniency with marijuana smokers. That should not be the case since California has only legalized medical marijuana but not recreational marijuana like other states have.

It is time for one of the most liberal states in the United States to legalize the recreational use of cannabis

As of now, the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative, which would legalize recreational marijuana use, has a chance to appear on the Nov. 8, 2016 ballot.

If California decides to legalize marijuana for recreational use, the state will see a drastic rise in revenue as the states that have legalized recreational marijuana use have seen in the past year. The Colorado Department of Revenue said that the state had received nearly $70 million in tax revenue from marijuana from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015, easily beating the $42 million in taxes on alcohol the state received, according to Forbes.

But even then, California still chooses to combat marijuana use ” both recreational and medical.

It is true that voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, which made California the first state to legalize medical marijuana. However, even with the passing of this proposition, The Huffington Post reported that the federal government stepped in and forced many dispensaries to shut their doors or face prosecution for “violating federal drug and money-laundering laws” in 2011.

To this day, Southern California cities either only have one or two dispensaries available or none at all. The city of Diamond Bar had only allowed one medical marijuana dispensary to stay open. But now, the city is asking it to leave.

Who is to blame for this? Are people afraid of the effects of marijuana?

The cult classic propaganda film “Reefer Madness,” made in the 1950s, painted a false picture to the public, demonizing the effects of the plant. Since then, marijuana has been used for medicinal purposes to aid and relax patients affected by conditions such as autism, ADHD and cancer.

But what about recreational users? They deserve the same fairness as medical users despite being almost stripped of marijuana use.

People will argue that marijuana is used more recreationally than medically. But, the use of marijuana is not as devastating as other drugs in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Schedule I list.

Schedule I drugs are deemed most addictive and dangerous. Substances such as heroin, LSD and ecstasy are on this list. The schedules go all the way down to Schedule V, where drugs that are “low potential for abuse” can be found like the cough medicine Robitussin. Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug. Drugs such as Adderall and Xanax are lower than marijuana on the list.

It is time for the United States to recognize marijuana as not being a Schedule I drug. Instead, the DEA should list marijuana as a Schedule IV drug or even a Schedule V drug. State-wise, it is seen as legal, while through federal eyes, it is still seen as a substance worthy of criminal prosecution.

Lawmakers have some serious reconsidering to do about marijuana. A person has yet to overdose on marijuana, although federal law considers it as bad as ecstasy, which people have actually died from. (The recent deaths at the Fairplex in August are a good example.)

Once other states follow the footsteps of Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska, they will reap the same financial benefits that cannabis-friendly states have seen within a year of decriminalizing the plant.

It is time for the energy spent in fighting against cannabis legalization to be redirected towards other important things. As President Barack Obama once said, “We’ve got bigger fish to fry. It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal.”


Monica Lopez / The Poly Post


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