Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Illinois Considers Legalizing Weed

Last week, we heard news that Illinois was considering being one of the many states that would legalize recreational use of weed. Naturally, as a Coloradan, I feel compelled to talk a lot about this topic.
Obviously, I’m going to say that Illinois should do it and for an abundant number of reasons.
The most obvious one is that weed isn’t that bad. Research done on drugs and alcohol have suggested on numerous occasions that weed is no worse than smoking, and in other ways, better for people than alcohol. One such example was David Nutt, U.K.’s drug adviser, who was fired after openly stating that alcohol was likely worse for people.
Moving on from there; making things illegal doesn’t prevent them from happening. In this case, people are smoking weed everywhere, all the time. Nobody knows that better than students and faculty at a liberal arts college. It’s because it’s not that bad.
What is bad for you is getting charged with a crime when you get caught by the police. According to the ACLU, there are roughly 800,000 arrests for marijuana use and possessions every year. That’s 800,000 people that will then have trouble finding jobs, and possibly have their lives ruined.
Then there’s the economic side of all of this. Along with all the people who won’t have to worry about losing jobs because of ridiculous weed charge, there’s the benefit of the state actually make a ton of cash. Right now, Colorado gets 1.3% of its state tax from marijuana alone. For those who don’t know, that’s significant. There’s only one downside, and that is that because of the federal laws, they can only do transactions with cash. That means people are paid in cash, businesses are reporting their earnings in cash, and that leads to a lot of people simply “ducking” their taxes.
So, the entire country needs to legalize weed. The economic benefits are fantastic (and should be especially appealing to a republican government.)
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the government spends $7.7 billion annually on marijuana law enforcement. If they reversed that, they could instead be making $2.4 billion annually. Even better, they could make approximately $6 billion if they taxed weed like alcohol.
A consumption-like tax that would only be paid by “stoners”. Why didn’t Republicans try to enact this yesterday?
According to Gallup Polls, 60% of people wanted to legalize marijuana in 2016. That’s compared to just 12% in 1969. This is a no-brainer.
All drugs are bad for you, and marijuana is no different. But weed is not that bad, and people are doing it anyway (probably more than you’d think). Rather than these failed “deterrent” laws, why don’t we make the best of it?

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Illinois Considers Legalizing Weed