Marijuana Legalization: Is Oregon Next?

Oregon is taking the steps required to make the regulation of marijuana a sure thing. Lawmakers first heard on Tuesday the proposition to a piece of legislation, House Bill 3371, that would allow for the production, processing, and sale of the controversial cannabis plant. After the hearing, the bill has been sent to the House Revenue Committee for further examination. Currently, the use of medical marijuana is legal in the state.

Other states can learn from Oregon’s shining example — the "war" on marijuana needs to stop. The social and economic benefits of regulated smoking should be in.

Oregon was the first state in 1973 to decriminalize being caught with an ounce or less of marijuana. "It makes sense to regulate marijuana like alcohol and for the Legislature to take the lead on the issue and make sure sensible regulations are in place," Anthony Johnson, an activist, said. In addition to regulation, the state of Oregon would be able to tax marijuana but also allow for the plant to be grown at home.

Marijuana legalization is often an idea associated with the selfish satisfaction of potheads and the end to morality in society, as we know it. But, not only is marijuana medically beneficial, it is safer to use than alcohol. Scientists say that the probability of substance addiction falls at less than 10%. Furthermore, people do not smoke marijuana as frequently as they do cigarettes. Still, there are other health risks to be concerned about and the question of long-term damage is valid.

There is an disturbing dichotomy between Mexican drug lords' sweeping violence over pot while successful adults in suburban settings smoke recreationally. Legalization across the board could aid in putting a dent into the former while decriminalizing (thus pleasing) the latter.

According to the Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition, an analysis put together by visiting Harvard professor Jeffrey Miron and signed by over 500 economists (including Nobel Laureates), the implications of legalization extend much father. Two executive study points from the piece are as followed:

The report estimates that legalizing marijuana would save $7.7 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition. $5.3 billion of these savings would accrue to state and local governments, while $2.4 billion would accrue to the federal government.

The report also estimates that marijuana legalization would yield tax revenue of $2.4 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like all other goods and $6.2 billion annually if marijuana were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco.

Currently, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, with Colorado and Washington in court to possibly sue over their states' legalization. But with the pros outweighing the cons, opposing lawmakers need to take a step back, look to Oregon's ongoing example and reconsider.

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Zainab Akande

Born and raised in New York City, Zainab is a University of Delaware alum, currently working on obtaining her M.A. in journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York. http://zainabakande.com/

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