By Anastasia Landeros
Naysayers have been arguing against the many benefits of marijuana for years. This year, California voters should legalize the recreational sale of this beneficial plant and help make a contribution to our state.
Proposition 64, or the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, would allow adults over the age of 21 to buy, cultivate, sell, transport, and give a set amount of marijuana for recreational use.
One of the main advantages of the legalization of marijuana is the ability of the state to tax it. California can use the revenue to improve public and private aspects of the state.
The money generated by taxing cannabis can be used for improving drug education, for restoring land ruined by illegal marijuana growing and trafficking, and creating regulatory committees aimed at studying the impact that cannabis has on our society. It seems that voters have no choice but to vote yes on this proposition.
Medicine advancement is also a large benefit to the legalization of cannabis.
Currently, marijuana is a schedule one drug, meaning that the Drug Enforcement Administration does not believe cannabis can provide medical benefits.
As recently as May of this year, however, the National Cancer Institute found that cancer cells in rats and mice stopped growing when exposed to cannabinoids, a chemical compound found in cannabis.
The same study found that one of the more abundant cannabinoids in marijuana can, with the help of chemotherapy, kill cancer cells without harming healthy ones.
Legalization would allow California researchers the chance to become a leading source of finding a cure for cancer.
Marijuana opposers also fail to take into account that the cannabis plant produces hemp. A variety of hemp is grown specifically for its ability to be turned into paper, cloth, paint, biodegradable plastic, biofuel and animal feed.
Hemp can become a leading, drought-proof industry in California if voters pass this proposition.
The sale of cannabis would also be heavily regulated and monitored by a designated state department much like regulations already in place for tobacco and alcohol.
Packages and labels would have to include government warnings, like those found on tobacco products.
Dispensaries would not be allowed within 600 feet of schools and other areas where children gather. Liquor stores, on the other hand, only have to be 300 feet away.
The legalization of marijuana would be no different than the legal sale of alcohol and tobacco. Just like alcohol and tobacco, marijuana does have its risks.
Drugabuse.gov does say that the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, causes mood and behavior problems, but it goes on to say that people are not likely to overdose on marijuana.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, estimates that as of January 2015, six people a day die of alcohol poisoning in the United States.
Tobacco use causes more deaths a year than HIV, alcohol, car accidents, and gun violence combined. So what is the difference?
Why are so many people opposed to the legalization of marijuana, but support and encourage the sale of alcohol and tobacco?
It’s certainly not the estimated $1 billion that legalized cannabis can earn the state.
Colorado, alone, made so much money on the taxation of recreational marijuana last year that the state granted buyers and businesses a tax holiday, meaning the 25 percent tax given to marijuana by voters was waived for a day in order to balance the state’s budget before the end of its fiscal year.
If Colorado’s 5.2 million residents can generate $996 million from last year’s taxes alone, up from $699 million in its first year, then imagine the money-making potential of California with 38.1 million citizens.
Not to mention the money the state would save on housing offenders arrested because of marijuana trafficking or possession.
As it is, Californians spend $62,396 per prisoner to run a prison, according to safeandjust.org.
California only spends about $9,194 per k-12 student.
Spending more money on our students could possibly be the key in keeping them out of prison in the first place.
California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom said in an email statement to Campus News: “You don’t have to be pro-marijuana to be pro-Prop 64 and want to end the failed war on marijuana, which has disproportionately fallen on communities of color…Prop 64 is good for California and deserves every voter’s support.”
He goes on to say that this proposition gives complete control to local cities and counties, job training for people living in underprivileged communities, and local law enforcement grants.
The list of reasons to legalize marijuana could go on for many more pages, but the fact of the matter is taxing marijuana is not any different than taxing tobacco or alcohol.
All three can potentially lead to harsher drugs, addiction to those harsher drugs and death.
Marijuana, however, has the potential to be one of the most sustainable resources for California .
Vote yes on Proposition 64.
To read the entire proposition, visit the California secretary of state website at SOS.CA.GOV.