The grass is greener on the other side

In my mind, the benefits of marijuana outweigh the risks.

Let’s talk about the economy. Colorado made $1 million on the first day of recreational sales, and with a 25 percent tax, that means that roughly $250 thousand was made in taxes by the government that day. According to colorado.gov, 42.3 percent of that tax money will go to schools. That’s over $105 thousand for K-12 schools in just one day.

Here’s some food for thought from the Huffington Post.

•$1 million- amount Colorado made on the first day of marijuana sales (Jan 1)

•$6 billion- amount that could be made annually if marijuana were taxed similar to alcohol and tobacco

•$7.7 billion- amount the federal government spends on enforcing the prohibitions on marijuana annually

•$13.7 billion- total amount that would be saved by the government annually if marijuana were legalized.

Those are some big numbers. But I understand that that doesn’t change the safety of marijuana. Is weed safe? Multiple studies show that it is safer than alcohol.

For example, ten times the amount of alcohol it takes to get a “buzz” can kill you. The lethal dose for marijuana is estimated to be about one-third a person’s body weight. This means a 150 pound person would have to consume 50 pounds of weed at once in order to overdose, which is physically impossible.

Nobody has ever died from a marijuana overdose. I couldn’t find a figure for marijuana-related deaths either. Yet, the Center of Disease Control reports that every year, over half a million deaths in the U.S. can be attributed to the use of alcohol and tobacco.

Is it fair that marijuana is illegal and comparable substances are not? Anything can ruin your life if you get hooked on it, and it looks like it’s easier to get hooked on alcohol or tobacco than marijuana.

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science reports that 32 percent of people who try tobacco become dependent, as do 23 percent of those who try heroin, 17 percent who try cocaine, 15 percent who try alcohol and 9 percent who try marijuana.

The argument has been made that legalization will drive dependence rates up, but that might not be the case. The Netherlands decriminalized not only marijuana, but all drugs in 1976. Decriminalization still keeps the drugs illegal, but makes the punishment for possession more like a traffic ticket and less like a death sentence.

According to CBS, only 19.8 percent of adults in the Netherlands reported to having used cannabis in their lifetime. The same study concluded that 42.4 percent of American adults have used cannabis, which is the highest rate in the world. The U.S. also has the highest rate of cocaine use in the world (16 percent), while the Netherlands sits at 1.9 percent.

I’m not condoning the use of marijuana. I understand marijuana has harmful effects, but I question the effectiveness of the drug war that our government seems to be losing. I believe marijuana should stop being seen on the same level as illicit drugs.

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