With Colorado’s new legalization of marijuana law being enacted in the past couple weeks, Utah—their neighbor next door—will be unwillingly affected. Almost like a small Mexican border, the police will be on the lookout for the illegal goods crossing the border. Being a hot topic as it is, we should reassess and think about the harm that could come from it. Not just from the thought of having it in our backyard, but a sure future legislation as well.
First, it’s important to know whose words you’re reading. I’m an LDS born and raised white male from the backwoods of Washington state. I have never consumed any kind of drug, unless you count caffeine, and probably never will. In my opinion, drugs—specifically mind and behavioral altering kinds—should be handled more strictly than it is being now.
Drugs that fall into this area of discussion are alcohol, tobacco and hard drugs. They do more harm than good. One can argue that if used within your own home it won’t hurt anyone else but yourself. Yet that’s a selfish and short-sighted approach to consequences that extend outside of that time. Marijuana has definite potential to feed into the drug epidemic many American families are under daily.
Drugs are designed to alter your state of mind and marijuana is no exception. Affecting your neurological functions, it can distort the sense of time, affects short-term memory and increases paranoia, anxiety and depression. Having those who smoke marijuana creates a less-sharp society than we have now.
Drug use, in a sense, is a slow suicide. Use of marijuana contributes to increased heart rate, blood pressure and rate of breathing. But most of all, it slows your reaction time. This doesn’t only affect you but others around you. The jury is still out on how much marijuana use can influence the health of a user over a long period of time. We are reminded that the public’s ignorance to tobacco use was not known for until the 1960’s. Why would we subject a naïve public until we understand its full consequences?
An argument which gets circulated around is that decriminalizing marijuana will save tax payers money by freeing up the jail systems which are already overcrowded. While this is definitely true, it will cost a pretty penny as well. The government will have to spend much in order to regulate it properly. New trainings for police officers, drug education, drug treatment programs and new tax laws all contribute to this cost.