Opinion: This 4/20, it's time for the legalization of marijuana

As of the time of writing, marijuana is still completely illegal in 13 states, and illegal recreationally in several others.

Today is 4/20. A day that many choose to gather and celebrate a drug that is still illegal in the United States. Marijuana.

Marijuana in the United States is still classified as a Schedule I drug. In 2023, a “drug” that has proven medical benefits is still illegal at the federal level.

Within the state of Pennsylvania, marijuana is legal for medical use only. This means that if approved by a doctor, patients can obtain marijuana for medical use through an authorized dispensary. Medical marijuana dispensaries are located all across Pennsylvania, including one in White Township.

However, in 2023, there are 13 states where marijuana is still illegal completely and several others where it is illegal recreationally.

It’s time for our government to pass legislation and legalize marijuana at the federal level. Recreational marijuana would be able to increase tax revenue and the risk factors are rather minimal.

We are past the days where if you smoke weed, “you’re going to end up living in a van down by the river” as Chris Farley said during a 1993 episode of Saturday Night Live.

The debate around legalization of marijuana has been ongoing for years, with passionate arguments on both sides. While some believe that legalizing marijuana would have negative consequences, I believe that it would benefit society in many ways.

First, legalizing marijuana would generate substantial tax revenue. By making marijuana a legal product, the government can impose taxes on it, just like they already have done with alcohol and tobacco. In states that have legalized marijuana, such as Colorado and California, tax revenue from marijuana sales has been significant, providing additional funding for government programs such as education and healthcare.

And I think we can all agree that education and healthcare could use more funding.

In addition to generating tax revenue, legalizing marijuana would also reduce the costs associated with enforcing marijuana laws. Every year, law enforcement agencies spend billions of dollars enforcing marijuana laws, arresting and prosecuting people for possession and distribution. By legalizing marijuana, these resources could be redirected towards more pressing issues, such as combating actual violent crimes.

Legalizing marijuana could also have positive health implications. Many people who use marijuana do so for medicinal purposes, as it has been shown to alleviate symptoms associated with conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). By legalizing marijuana, patients would have easier access to this natural medicine, without the fear of legal repercussions. Additionally, legalizing marijuana could also reduce the number of opioid-related deaths, as many people turn to opioids for pain relief when they are unable to obtain medical marijuana.

Of course, there are some concerns about the legalization of marijuana, particularly regarding the potential for increased use among minors. However, it is important to note that many states that have legalized marijuana have implemented strict regulations regarding its use, such as requiring users to be 21 or older and prohibiting use in public places. Additionally, legalization would allow for better regulation of marijuana products, ensuring that they are safe and free from harmful substances.

We are past due for marijuana legalization in the United States. Many politicians including Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) run their campaign based on the legalization of marijuana, yet it’s still illegal.

If you do choose to celebrate this 4/20, remember to do it safely.

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