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Thursday, April 17, 2014 | Last updated: 6:17am

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Updated: Legalizing marijuana benefits all



Half of the U.S. population wants marijuana legalized, according to a Gallup poll taken last year. But not everyone is in on the smoke sesh.

In Los Angeles, there are anywhere from 800 to 900 marijuana dispensaries — outnumbering Starbucks in some neighborhoods — according to NPR. In addition, the Board of Equalization found that more than 400,000 Californians use marijuana on a daily basis.

Los Angeles City Council member José Huizar called this treatment of marijuana “de facto legalization,” and the council is now considering full prohibition.

This is a result of the recent federal crackdown, as dispensaries are raided by local and federal law enforcement, and owners are jailed. In Arizona, legislators writhed in fear for a whole year before actually implementing the voter-approved medical marijuana law. The federal crackdowns are unfounded, have caused panic and need to come to a stop. We, the people, need to instigate a marijuana revolution.

The Los Angeles City Council shouldn’t try to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. It should be jumping at the chance to sprout a movement from a major city government like Los Angeles, and help other cities to follow suit. The council should push for something less fake than medical programs and just legalize it.

Los Angeles wouldn’t be alone, either. Virginia caught on and is already set to put marijuana legalization on the ballot this November. Also rolled up in the joint legalization effort are Colorado and Washington, which are both experiencing the same unchecked use of marijuana among their residents. These states are on track to push the feds to legalize marijuana.

According to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 16 million Americans used marijuana in the month prior to the survey. By those numbers, it’s safe to assume that everyone who gets out of their house has probably met a marijuana user or used it.

Despite the vast number of weed-loving Americans in the workforce and schools, NORML, an organization that lobbies for legalization, reports that 12 million users have been arrested on marijuana charges since 1965. If you’re hell-bent on arresting people for smoking a flower and being relaxed, then this probably seems like a great achievement. However, most people are
grounded in reality, where smoking weed doesn’t ruin the user’s life.

Marijuana is wrongly illegal. According to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana has no medical value and is more harmful than cocaine. Yet, the law allows for a nicotine and alcohol market that kills hundreds of thousands of people every year. Marijuana, on the other hand, has never killed a person in recorded history.

Even the Nixon administration knew that marijuana was a minimal-risk drug. In 1972, that administration commissioned researchers to complete a full report on the social and medical implications of cannabis. The report, “Marihuana, A Signal Of Misunderstanding,” showed that users could survive ingesting more than 46 pounds of low-quality cannabis. However, most people “green out,” or go unconscious after smoking or eating several ounces worth of tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in the plant.

According to the Drug Abuse Resistance Education pamphlets everyone read in middle school, marijuana smoke contains more cancer-causing agents than tobacco. This is wrong. Smarter people, who had their research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, surveyed marijuana smokers for 20 years, finding that smoking one joint every day does not cause cancer or lung damage. In fact, the study showed that, at low levels of exposure, lung strength is slightly improved because users hold their smoke in to get higher.

People who have done their research know cannabis is far safer than anything from alcohol to ibuprofen, so it’s heinously misplaced on the Schedule I list of drugs.

As many states have already set up medical marijuana programs, it would seem that the federal government is the only group that doesn’t get the joke that is the War on Drugs. There are millions of cannabis users across the country — police can’t reasonably arrest everyone who uses it. Every day, users flip the feds their funkiest finger and puff away.
The government lost the war the second it declared it, and rightly so. This country is putting people in jail for smoking a flower. Let’s show the federal government that the states know better and legalize marijuana at the local and state levels.

— Greg Gonzales is an interdisciplinary studies junior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

Editor’s note: Due to a technical error, an early draft of this column went online. It has been updated.


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