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High time we legalize

Matt DePaolo | Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A couple weeks ago, I was going through the exciting process of ND Roll Call when I noticed something a little different: a memo to all students reminding us of the University’s notably stringent drug policy.

Of course, we all know the one recreational drug to which this policy most frequently applies: marijuana. Possession alone can cost you a year’s suspension from the University. It got me thinking, what is it about marijuana that inspires such widespread fear and evokes extreme punishment directed toward non-violent offenders, not only at ND, but throughout the country?

Is it the adverse health effects? The shelves at your local supermarket are stocked with food and drink items that will kill you much quicker than weed ever will. In fact, there has never been a single documented death directly resulting from marijuana use. Is it the state of mind in which the drug puts you? Not unless rendering users happy and hungry creates a threat to the public good. Is it the old argument that smoking it causes a lack of motivation? This can be said for any recreational activity when one overdoes it, yet video games and TV remain legal.

A recent report estimates that legalizing marijuana would save $7.7 billion per year in government spending related to the enforcement of prohibition. Additionally, annual tax revenue from legalization could reach $6.4 billion if marijuana was taxed at comparable rates to tobacco and alcohol. This does not include the potential benefits of the reintroduction of a multi-billion dollar hemp industry to the U.S. economy. Given the economic state of the country, it is hard to find an easier way to increase revenue and cut expenses than the legalization, regulation and taxation of cannabis products.

I can hardly begin to cover the issues related to marijuana legalization in one Viewpoint article, but I urge anyone who reads this to take the time to do some of your own research. Question the entrenched misconceptions about marijuana, and if you come to the same conclusions I have, get involved and ask your administrators and politicians for more sensible drug policies.

Matt DePaolo



Jan. 25