Thursday, October 15, 2015

To Smoke...Or Not To Smoke?

Excerpt from Pineapple Express (One of the best stoner movies of all time)
Saul: I wish I had a job like that. Where I could just sit around and smoke weed all day. 
Dale Denton: Hey, you do have that job. You do sit around and smoke weed all day. 
Saul: Hey, you're right. Hey, thanks man.

Ohioans could legally live the life of Saul in the next month. On November 3rd, Ohio will vote on Issue 3--whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana.

What are the details behind Issue 3?
Issue 3 could potentially legalize the limited sale and use of marijuana and create 10 facilities with exclusive commercial rights to grow the drug. The issue allows anyone over 21 years of age to use, transport, and share up to one ounce of weed. Citizens with a license purchased from the Ohio Marijuana Control Commission could use, possess, grow, cultivate and share up to eight ounces of homegrown marijuana and four flowering marijuana plants.The amendment would create 10 Marijuana growth and cultivation facilities, which would have exclusive rights to grow and sell the product.
Breaking it down
I would like to mention that I have never dabbled with weed, so I'm no expert in the industry. I have, however, researched this topic in depth. First off, Issue 3 can basically be broken down into three controversial contentions- moral issues, criminalization, and business concerns. Morality is probably biggest aspect of the issue for people voting no. You either are fine with the fact that a drug is legalized, or it violates everything you have ever believed on the topic. Criminalization is an important factor for those voting yes. You either want to convict and imprison people with procession of the weed, or you want to un-clutter our penetentaries by removing these low level drug abusers through pot legalization, who are really not harmful. Then you have the business spectrum of the issue. The main concern with creating 10 companies to grow and sell weed is that it comes with a high probability of a monopolized industry. You either don't want companies constitutionally abusing their right to the free market, or you want Ohio to make $500 million in tax revenue on the drug, or you honestly don't care.

The Pros behind legalization
With any potentially abused illegal product, there is the "forbidden fruit" theory. The immorality of marijuana use can only be based on one set of moral beliefs. By taking a “moral” stand against recreational drugs, or fighting the evils caused by the illegal drug trade, they increase their popularity amongst constituents. More deaths occur each year from intoxicated driving and diseases caused by smoking than deaths from marijuana use. If alcohol and tobacco are legal through regulation, why would pot be illegal? By providing legal supplies of currently illegal drugs then the price will fall, which would lead to a collapse in the illegal drug industry, and therefore a reduction in crimes committed by both drug suppliers and users. Also, legalization would decrease the amount of users indicted for basic procession. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, marijuana accounts for over half of drug arrests in America. Legalization would decriminalize weed, potentially decrease the number of prisons, and therefore lowering taxes. Is it effective to imprison a teenage boy for multiple years solely for marijuana procession? Many Ohioans suffer from chronic illnesses that could be treated with cannabis (medical marijuana), however they can not access this treatment through marijuana prohibition. Lastly, Ohio would regulate the quality and quantity of the weed available, while making large profits through marijuana taxation, which will be 15%.

The Cons behind legalization
To quote the book Freakonomics, "Is it possible to regulate something when a healthy black market exists?" Despite the fact that legalization can regulate marijuana, a black market will most likely continue to exist. Also, the easy availability of drugs could create new consumers rather than rescuing current ones. There is also "The Gateway Theory", which explains that the use of soft drugs, such as weed, will eventually lead to the use of hard drugs, which can seriously affect a user's health. A substance considered unhealthy cannot be produced and distributed with the help of the state, because the goal of the state is to protect citizens’ health and not to expose them to risk. That is the reason that Ohio will create 10 private facilities that will grow, cultivate, and sell marijuana. In theory, this would not be a monopoly because more than just a few companies control the industry. However, the module will realistically operate as though it is a monopoly. The investors of these companies have funded the ResponsibleOhio campaign, which actually put this issue on the ballot. So in essence, they are paying to try to amend the Ohio Constitution to grant themselves pot growing rights while fixing in place the tax rate they would pay. Also, drug abusers will no longer be imprisoned, and this may send a message to children that drug use is acceptable.

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