Opinions

Paws or Claws: Legalizing Marijuana

The Student Body Says: Paws

By Ashley Fries

In light of the Heads vs. Feds debate that took place on Nov. 6, 2013, I wanted to see what the Kutztown student body thought in regards to the legalization of marijuana. Walking around campus lately, the debate of marijuana legalization seems to be the most popular topic of conversation. Therefore, for this issue I surveyed 50 KU students for their opinion on marijuana legalization. Overall, the results were rather united with the majority voting for marijuana legalization.

To Legalize or Not To Legalize
The first question asked in this survey was, “do you or have you ever smoked marijuana?” Out of 50 people, 72 percent said yes they have while 28 percent said no. While this alone is not shocking because we are surveying college students. The shocking part was how many people said they believe marijuana should be legalized.

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Out of 50 people 90 percent said yes it should be and 10 percent said no. According to the survey results, some participants who have never tried marijuana still believe that it should be legalized. Based on these results we see that those wanting legalization are not just the ‘druggies’ or the ‘pot heads,’ but that there are deeper reasons for wanting marijuana to be legalized then to just get high.

Marijuana vs. Alcohol
One debate that is always associated with marijuana is whether it is better or worse for you than alcohol. Therefore, one question in the survey asked just this. Again, the results clearly indicated a favor to one answer with 46 people or 92 percent of people saying Marijuana is better for you than alcohol and only 4 people or 8 percent saying it is worse.

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As always a comment section was offered, and one person argued, “Marijuana has little to no long term effects where alcohol dissolves your liver, kidneys, and brain cells.” Though, it should also be noted, within these comments many people argued that marijuana and alcohol are the same when it comes down to it.
Why Marijuana Should Be Legalized

The next question asked in this survey was, why do you think marijuana should be legalized. This was an open ended question, yet most of the surveyors answered pretty similarly. The most common answers included, medical reasons, alcohol is legal and they’re not much different, it’s a plant and therefore shouldn’t be illegal, there are no ill effects, and so the government can make money from the taxes on it as well as freeing up space in our prisons.

One person answered saying, “The cost to attempt to eradicate the drug has cost more than if they had just legalized it sooner and rather spent the money on drug education.” Another person admitted smoking marijuana can be bad when they said, “It induces effects similar to drinking alcohol, without the noted long term causes. Of course, smoking any substance is not good for you. There are other ways of ingesting Cannabis that do produce any harmful smoke.”

Another person stated that it is legal for medical uses and therefore should be legal overall. They explained by saying. “Alcohol is a “drug” and causes deaths all over the country and the world. Not only from the people who consume but innocent bystanders are affected by alcohol everyday in negative ways. I have never seen Marijuana users react in a way that they have caused harm to themselves or others. It is a drug that relaxes people and for many helps with anxiety issues and other related paranoias. In addition, it’s already being used medically so there is no reason why it should not be legalized within certain parameters.”

The largest argument overall was that the government would benefit the most from marijuana legalization. One person wrote, “If the government owned the whole process, from growth to sale, I believe that the government could bail itself out of debt. Especially if the sale price on marijuana stayed about the same as it is now.” Therefore, based on these results, marijuana should be legalized because it would be a win-win for everyone involved.

Why Marijuana Should Not Be Legalized
There are always two sides to an argument, therefore, I then asked why marijuana should not be legalized to see the arguments against it. However, most people who answered could not give any reason why it should not.

Though, some people were able to and those answers were mostly related to driving or working under the influence. Even still, most who answered admitted that the risk of that happening is the same with alcohol. For example, one person said, “Because it impairs people’s judgment and can be dangerous if people smoke while driving, or using heavy machinery.”

Furthermore, another person said, “I see no reason that Marijuana should not be legalized. The only thing I think is there should be an age limit like cigarettes.” This comment brings up an extremely valid point. If marijuana would be legalized, there would more than likely need to be an age limit and I believe this person to be right when relating it to cigarettes.

Another person expressed their concern for legalization by saying, ‘It might be taxed too heavy and will have people resort to buying it how they usually do.” Finally, another person said, “It could lead to an increase in reckless people experimenting with other drugs.” While this is a valid concern, people who wish to experiment with other drugs, will more than likely do so whether it is legal or not.

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Pros of Marijuana Legalization
Next the survey asked for the pros or benefits of marijuana legalization. Once again, the answers were all pretty similar. The most common answers included, more revenue, tax money, less debt, more jobs, medical reason, less crime, and overall freedom. One person said, “The government could tax it and make money off of it to help the economy. Also for people with chronic pain like cancer, degenerative diseases and other such problems they could get relief that would not hurt their stomachs or interact with any other medicines. Also for people without medical problems it is a nice way to calm down and relax without side effects in the morning. Marijuana helps with claustrophobia, chronic reflux, headaches, and sleeping problems. Which many people suffer with.”

Overall, the answers were pretty similar to those of why it should be legalized, and all points were still extremely valid.
Cons of Marijuana Legalization

The next questions was asking for the cons or downfalls of marijuana legalization. Many people couldn’t come up with an answer again. However some were able to, and they were different from why it should not be legalized.

For example, one person said, “Can’t detect ways of telling if someone is using or not (for driving reasons), and it’s as unhealthy as alcohol.” Which I think is a really good point. If marijuana were to be legalized, we would have to come up with a way of detecting it like the Breathalyzer for alcohol. In conjunction, someone said, “People driving high – same laws should apply for weed as alcohol.”

Furthermore, many people commented about DUI’s and underage users. However, they also stated that it is already a problem and with always be a problem. Also, some surveyors concerns were with the marijuana being laced and therefore would need to be monitored closely.

Expectations:
The next question asked how many people the surveyor thought actually used marijuana on campus. Nobody said none, two people (four percent) said only a small amount, 15 people (30 percent) said about half, 31 people (62 percent) said a large amount, and two (4 percent) said everyone. Based on these results, most people on campus believe that a lot of us partake in marijuana, and based on the previous results this is rather true.

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For more specific numbers one person said, “Probably about 75% of Kutztown students” and another person said, “at least 1/2 to 2/3. Perhaps not regularly but at least a few times.” Furthermore, one person commented, “I think a lot do smoke but don’t on campus because of the law but would if it were legal bringing the count up to a large amount.”

Based on these results, the majority thinks that most of KU partakes in marijuana and if they don’t now they probably would if it were legalized. The last question asked, what the surveyor though the outcome of legalization would be. Overall, these answer were positive. The majority think that mostly good would come of it.

For example, many people said they thought we would get out of debt, there would be less crime, more happiness, and overall a more harmonious society. One surveyor said, “I’ve seen and smoked legal weed in both Colorado and Washington states. These states do not look or seem different from before and people still behave the same way. I think it would be similar across the country. “

The Results
Based on these results, the Kutztown student body seems to partake in marijuana, think that most of campus does, and believe that it should become legalized. With its legalization, the student body believes that there would be mostly positive results, but there would need to be certain procedures in place if it were to become legalized. Overall, the student body votes Paws on the legalization of marijuana.

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