Puff, puff, pass the legislation

April 22, 2015

Monday was April 20, the day popularly known for the celebration of marijuana. In just the past few years alone, the country has seen a growth in the legalization of marijuana, at first for medical use, but now including recreational use in four states: Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.

Marijuana legalization is still a highly controversial subject due in part to the effects it has when used; essentially, people are concerned about others “getting high” and how that might affect society as a whole.

It stands to show, however, that purely from an economic standpoint, the legalization of marijuana could prove to be beneficial to society through lowering crime rates and also through the tax revenue it could generate.

Start with a local example: the city of Whitewater.

There were 13 charges for possession of drug paraphernalia, 25 for the year-to-date, according to the Whitewater Police Department’s consolidated monthly report for February 2015. This is compared to just eight charges for the previous year at that time.Furthermore, there were 77 arrests on campus for drug law violations in 2013, according to the UW-Whitewater Police Department website.

With the legalization of marijuana, it could be argued that there would be less charges of this nature, saving both time and money on the police department’s resources.

This is true of the entire country; by legalizing marijuana, there won’t be a heavy focus of time, energy and money dedicated to criminalizing users.

Here’s another example: the tax revenue in Colorado.

According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, the tax revenue from marijuana sales was just over $52.5 million. Part of this money is even being used to help fund public school costs among other general funding in the state.

Think for a moment about what a tax revenue similar to that one would do for Wisconsin.

With Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed 2015-17 biennium budget cuts of $150 million per year to the UW System, a similar tax revenue could lower those proposed cuts by a third; not completely eliminating them, but making a drastic and notable difference.

When it comes to the moral aspects of using recreational marijuana, there is a massive debate between those who support it and those who oppose it.

Because knowledge on the effects marijuana has on the body is relatively limited due to its DEA classification as a Schedule 1 substance (right up there with heroin and ecstasy), it is hard to argue on either the positive or the negative effects it has on those who use it.

Frequently, the argument is made that alcohol can have similar – or sometimes worse – effects on the body, and alcohol is a legal substance.

Different studies have different numbers, however, and not enough research has been done to support that statement. Some studies that have been done support the use of medical marijuana for various diseases and illnesses, however, such as cancer (to treat for nausea and appetite during chemotherapy).

Regardless of whether or not you agree with the use of marijuana, it is still undeniable that legalizing it could benefit the local and state economy through tax revenue as well as lower the amount of citations and arrests related to marijuana use and possession.

You don’t have partake in the celebration of 4/20, but you should still appreciate the benefits marijuana can offer.

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