A hazy issue

What will the popularization of marijuana mean for our generation?

The Observer

Case Western Reserve University is currently deliberating going completely tobacco-free—a policy that divides the undergraduate student body. But what if CWRU considered allowing students light up another kind of smoking product? You read right: We are talking about marijuana.

Obviously, letting students openly start blazing up on the university’s premises is not a discussion that would happen anytime soon. But, in honor of 4/20, let’s imagine a situation where that would be possible: if marijuana were legalized in Ohio. Because, while CWRU won’t be discussing weed on campus in the near future, Ohioans and residents of states all across America seem to be getting closer and closer to recognizing the legitimacy of this potential new industry (or looming threat).

As a disclaimer, this editorial is not taking a stance on whether marijuana should be legalized, but rather it recognizes that we, the undergraduate students of CWRU, are part of a generation that sooner or later will need to evaluate the effects of legalization of marijuana. We must begin to form some sort of opinion about the issue. As a student body that is currently pondering the regulation of another smoking activity, CWRU students are already contributors to the legislative process of controlled substances. We should reach a little higher (pun intended) to the state level and consider different perspectives involved in the marijuana issue.

For the members of any community, tax revenue is the most obvious of the angles to consider when deciding on the legalization of marijuana. According to Business Insider, Colorado, where recreational use of marijuana is legal and taxed, is expecting $100 million in tax revenue this year. If Ohio were to get a similar amount of income in taxes, it would mean improvements in many important areas, like infrastructure. Imagine a Cleveland without potholes.

Another prominent issue is the use of marijuana as medication. Columbus-based Ohio Rights Group (ORG) is an organization that promotes legalization of medical marijuana in Ohio. In fact, according to 614 Columbus, ORG has already begun to push a ballot initiative for the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment, which would in effect legalize medical marijuana.

The disease that ORG specifically mentions is Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of pediatric epilepsy. If Ohio allowed the use of marijuana as a form of medication, patients suffering from diseases like Dravet Syndrome would not have to relocate to a state where such use is legal.

But, as we all know, there is another side to the health effects of marijuana. Even though the chance of overdosing is practically nonexistent, respiratory illnesses occur in frequent smokers. Not to mention the potential triggering effects of this drug. You may have seen the gossip columnists buzzing about a certain starlet’s mother insisting that a certain individual’s bizarre episodes earlier this year could be attributed to her marijuana abuse. Although these claims may seem far-fetched, there have been studies which emphasize the detrimental effect of all recreational drugs on persons with mental illness.

Then there is also the perpetual debate over the role of marijuana as a gateway drug, which is an issue which would be a major concern for communities looking to make this transition. With the high levels of heroin abuse in our city and many other metropolitan areas, we can’t ignore the spreading of dangerous behaviors and practices to a new generation. Responsible substance use is by far the largest concern surrounding this issue.

While all these points probably seem tired or repetitive, but they are nonetheless important to consider, especially for the demographic that will most likely have to decide on the future of marijuana in Ohio. So this Sunday, instead of harboring jealousy for the Coloradans freely imbibing in reefer madness, think bigger; think about what you would answer when asked about the legalization of marijuana. Would you be appalled? Excited? Your voice will matter in the future. Express it. Write to us, we’d love to be facilitators of this debate. Contact your local representatives. Make yourself heard.