Legalize marijuana federally, spread the benefits

Marijuana has much to offer, from lowering crime rates to treating mental illness, should be legal nationally



While a luxury for some, marijuana can be medicinal. To determine proper dosage requires a large subject study.

ALIVIA HILLER, Evergreen columnist

As more studies come out and more states legalize recreational marijuana, the issue increasingly becomes a federal one. If regulated federally, marijuana can be better studied, properly administered and used beneficially by people in every state.

Legalization and regulation of marijuana can help states decrease the amount of crime involving other drugs. The Netherlands, a country with liberal laws around recreational marijuana that sells it even in coffee shops, is a good example of how legalization can benefit a country.

The Netherlands have fewer arrests related to minor drug offenses than most countries. Due to the legalization of this drug, they no longer need to make arrests for minor nonviolent offenses involving weed. This cut costs used for these arrests and instead money was used for treatment, prevention and research, according to a report by the Open Society Foundation.

Weed is seen as a very dangerous drug despite being relatively tame when compared to other drugs like alcohol. Our society puts a lot of emphasis on alcohol and has regulated it on a federal level for many years. A study done in 2014 revealed that over 30,000 people died from alcohol-induced causes while there were no deaths related to marijuana overdoses.

It seems crazy that a more dangerous substance has been legal for the majority of our history. Most people drink alcohol without thinking twice about the effects but shame other substances without knowing the benefits they might have.

The research shows that cannabis has relatively few negative effects compared to other drugs and can even help some conditions, but the issue is that the law preventing in-depth research collected from a wide pool has left little conclusive evidence. Weed may affect memory and reaction time, but so does alcohol to an extent. Research also shows that once you stop ingesting marijuana, the effects are reversed and the body returns to normal.

Weed provides relief for those with anxiety. With depression, it made things worse but did not conclusively cause the condition. Alexander Spradlin, a psychology professor at WSU, researched the effects of medical marijuana on the body.

“We can’t say that [depression] is due to the weed, but I would caution someone who is feeling depressed to not use [marijuana] long-term because it could exacerbate their depression,” said Spradlin.

Research is being done on concentrates and how much of either THC or CBD is needed, Spradlin said.

CBD has pain-relieving effects, is known to reduce anxiety and has been approved for some epilepsy treatments. Larger sample sizes would help this research find other benefits as well as finding what amounts are dangerous to an individual’s health.

“If we are using [cannabis] for medicinal purposes, then we need to do a much better job at deciding if certain strains work better than others,” Spradlin said. “We need to know how many puffs and concentrate [is] used so it can have all the same regulations as normal medications.”

Though a handful of states have legalized marijuana over the past few years, it has been criminalized on a federal level since the 1970s and is overdue for a review. This came to some extent on Friday when Ron Wyden (D-OR) proposed the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act (S. 420). This bill is a companion to the H.R. 420 bill proposed in January by another Oregon representative.

The bill is supposed to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana at the federal level. S.420 would also remove federal criminal penalties for individuals and businesses complying with state law, as well as give cannabis businesses access to banking, bankruptcy protection, research and advertising. By supporting this bill, marijuana can benefit people throughout the states.

Federally legalizing weed is safer for the public and allows for more research to be done. Instead of trying to limit use, legalization would allow for positive outcomes in society through controlled medication and supervision.

Regulation gives the public the opportunity to know what they are getting and make sure all concentrates are what they should be. Legalization doesn’t just mean making a drug legal, it means making a drug safer.