To Legalize Recreational Marijuana or to Not

Nick Canzano Cameron Henderson, Author

          file_000          Why are you reading this? You’re under 21! It’s because this decision will impact your future. If you did not know, question 4 on this years Massachusetts ballot is to pass the recreational use of marijuana. The debate is on how this will affect our youth and the pros and cons of our having of the substance in our society. Many consider this a gateway drug and fear the possible consequences it could bring.

The worry about youth involvement is not something that was thrown together in order to try to scare the public away from voting for it. Colorado can be used as an example of what happens when marijuana is legalized for recreational purposes among adults, and the outcome for youth involvement is not pretty. Most parents are scared to even let their child drive by themselves! Now imagine how they are going to feel when they hear that marijuana-related traffic deaths has increased by 62% since the time recreational marijuana was legalized in 2013. While the dangers of driving are already high, are you willing to let the chance of your child get in an accident or even drive under the influence skyrocket statistically because of recreational marijuana? Not to mention the fact that youth marijuana usage in Colorado has increased by 20% in the two years since recreational marijuana was legalized. If the 20% increase in usage does not sound to impactful to you, Colorado is also now ranked #1 in the nation for youth marijuana usage. Keep in mind they were #14 from 2005-2006. When we take the statistics for Colorado and compare them to the national average of youth marijuana usage, Colorado is 74% higher than the national average number of users of the substance.

The biggest worry about youth involvement in using marijuana is through influences at home and from your family. This all stems from allowing anyone over the age of 21 to keep up to 10 ounces of pot in their home and grow up to 6 plants per person with a limit of 12 plants per household. Think of this situation in your head; You are a 6 year old child and you still do not completely know right from wrong. Everyday while you are home your parents smoke marijuana while you are present. This might lead you to simply think this is an OK thing to do and nothing can go wrong as my parents do it all the time. Then this child is able to steal some marijuana from his parents easily, especially since up to 10 ounces can be kept at home. Then you go and meet up with your friends and peer pressure them into smoking with you, and you all become addicted. Later in the future these children can progress further on from this gateway drug to more serious things such as heroin and other drugs that devastate your body. This is the real life problems we will have to deal with throughout our youth if recreational marijuana is passed. Countless amounts of lives may be lost due to all the repercussions to legalizing marijuana.

Now onto the cons of legalizing recreational marijuana. The question to ask yourself is “What are the cons compared to the pros?” I’m sure your list of cons was heavier than your pros. Our first interviewee is Officer Perna, a student resource officer at Ipswich High School. He has provided us with great insight on the legalization of recreational marijuana including the many cons. While he had many things to say about youth involvement that was already stated above, he had many other key points. Such as how we are dealing with major drug related problems right now, specifically with heroin. He went on to say that releasing another drug onto the streets would only create more of a mess as not only is it a gateway drug, but it is now readily available. He also stated that people around Massachusetts may come from out of state to purchase large amounts of marijuana and then bring it back to their home state, with a worse case situation of them actually becoming marijuana distributors illegally in another state. Officer Perna also mentioned how the laws that go along with the legalization have many gray spots. These gray spots may play a defining piece in whether or not marijuana actually gets legalized. The final piece that Officer Perna brought up is the fact that all these “cool” looking marijuana candies, drinks, and such are all very appealing to kids and can almost trigger them to want these such as some kids are triggered when they see regular candy and want all that sugary sweetness.

Mr. Krieger was our second interviewee. Much like Officer Perna he thought that there were many cons to legalizing recreational marijuana. He even had a hard time being able to muster up a single pro of legalizing marijuana. While he did have many cons that he brought up he did agree that it is a fair and reasonable question to be put onto the ballot this year.

At this point you probably do not think there are any pros to the legalization of recreational marijuana at all. Well you are wrong; you just can’t think of any. While many sources do not believe there to be many pros our third interviewee Matt Schetne begs to differ. Matt believes that the legalization will positively impact the police because they can shift their focus from marijuana to cracking down on the heroin crisis and other major issues present in Massachusetts. Also, he thinks that marijuana will not increase the amount of drug related crimes but could actually create an opportunity to lower them, but it is not definite. A big piece of the legalization of marijuana that Matt believes in is having very strict guidelines when it comes to driving, use in public, and use during and near educational buildings. When we asked Matt if he thought that 12 marijuana plants was excessive he continued to say that “ it is not excessive at all; just take a look at the homes that have breweries in the basement.” Another interesting piece of information he had brought up was that this is, in a way, a battle of the older and younger generations, along with the city versus the suburbs. Our student interviewee, Tyler Starr agrees with Matt Schetne. Tyler believes the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana will “help people cope with everyday stress and ease tension.” These of course are referring to the frequent opinions of people from each other groupings mentioned.

The opinions of legalizing marijuana are wavy and all over the place. There is no right or wrong answer whether it should be legalized or not. The communities all over Massachusetts will have some adjusting to do if question #4 on the ballot passes, but what will happen if it doesn’t?  Uproars may occur either way, but if you could vote, what would you put your votes towards?