Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Legalization could be most logical choice

There have been many recent progressive changes to the way marijuana has been treated legally and socially around the United States. Several states have made use of the drug legal in instances where it is medically beneficial, with Washington and Colorado even condoning recreational use. Others have significantly reduced penalties for using, trafficking or possessing marijuana. Even Augustana College has recently lowered the fine for a first possession offense to $100, according to the Office of Residential Life Discipline and Sanction Chart. Does this mean Augie is beginning to condone the use of the marijuana? The answer would depend on who was asked. This being a liberal arts college, there are plenty of different opinions from students, faculty and administration floating around.
For the time being, the powers that be (i.e. the Illinois State Assembly) prohibit the recreational use of cannabis products, so smoking pot on campus is, by definition, against the law. Possession of marijuana is illegal throughout most the world. There are, however, an increasing number of legislative bodies that are decriminalizing possession of small amounts of cannabis. Unfortunately for some, ours is not one of them.
In the state of Illinois, the penalty for possessing one joint’s worth of weed is a class C misdemeanor (up to one month in jail or $1500 fine). Being caught with more than 30 grams qualifies as a felony (more than a year in prison). It’s also worth noting that many municipalities impose a low priority on marijuana possession. Police will often look the other way in small possession cases. This does not mean that the RIPD won’t penalize anyone found possessing marijuana. It only means they won’t go far out of their way to do so.
Remember, though, that Augustana College itself has no authority to determine whether recreational pot is a crime or not. The fine exists to discourage students from doing things that could be seen as immoral. It is generally a bad idea for Augie to have a reputation as a school where the students smoke weed. Of course, if popular attitudes towards the drug were to change, it’s not hard to imagine a future where the lower quad is awash with students smoking without fear of being caught and consequently brought to justice by the faculty and staff passing by.
Now, I have never been a user of mind altering substances. I like my mind the way it is; I prefer that it remains unaltered. I bear a cynical mistrust toward those who do use substances like marijuana and alcohol. I do, however, wholeheartedly support legalization of recreational cannabis. First, the U.S. government spends millions of dollars per year controlling production distribution, but weed is still completely accessible for anyone willing to seek it out. This seems to me like a waste of tax money. A majority of inmates in dangerously overcrowded U.S. prisons are there on drug-related charges. Legalizing cannabis would help to clear these prisons out.
There is a disturbing amount of drug-related gang violence both on U.S. soil and abroad. While I hesitate to jump to the conclusion that legalization would end this, it’s at least worth a try, considering lives are at stake. Not only can taxes be imposed on government-regulated cannabis, thereby raising our bankrupt government much-needed funds; a new industry can spring up around cannabis cultivation, creating countless jobs and supporting economic growth. Also, marijuana has already been legalized in two states, and society hasn’t collapsed yet.
The strongest reason, however, and the point that drew me to the pro-legalization side is that there isn’t a clear reason for weed’s criminalization. I had intended to write this article factually and from an unbiased perspective. The more research I did, however, the more I found myself leaning towards the decriminalization side. What finally pushed me over the fence was my inability to discover any reasons why marijuana is illegal in the first place.
It was initially criminalized because people were more or less afraid of what the drug actually does to the human brain. It was basically considered a poison. Now we know that besides the stereotyped effects of making users lethargic, hungry and sleepy, cannabis has no harmful side effects, yet it is still illegal. As a nonuser, I am not directly affected by the prohibition of the drug. My tax dollars, however, are. That is reason enough for me to advocate legalization.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Augustana Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Legalization could be most logical choice