Categorized | Opinion

New marijuana laws in U.S. states break important ground

Nov. 6 brought American citizens the re-election of Barack Obama and recreational marijuana use to Colorado and Washington. With the election cycle behind us, we can look to the future of drug policy.

 Colorado and Washington have made the decision to initiate a more sensible way of handling marijuana in their states. The new amendments would make marijuana accessible in a manner that is similar to alcohol. Marijuana would be sold by licensed businesses to customers that are 21 and up, whom would have to present a proper form of ID for purchase.

 Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapters from all over the nation made over 16,000 calls to Colorado voters to inform them of the advantages of legalizing marijuana in their state. Voters were informed that the tax revenue generated from sales of marijuana would be dedicated to Colorado’s public schools.

 In addition to increased tax revenue, the law has already had an immediate effect on law enforcement. Less time is now dedicated to arresting citizens for possessing marijuana, which is objectively less dangerous than alcohol. This gives police officers more time to focus on real crimes involving violence or robbery that may occur in the state of Colorado.

There are currently 18 states and the District of Columbia with medical or recreational marijuana laws on the books. Will Florida join the ranks of these states in the near future?

 As education of the negative impact marijuana prohibition has had on our country spreads, it is safe to say that the Sunshine State state could follow.

 Despite the fact that our state can’t seem to hold an election in a timely and efficient manner, I am optimistic that Florida citizens can host a healthy debate around the topic of legalization.

 In the election cycles of 2014 or 2016, I hope that Florida can come to understand that drug war policies are ineffective and do more harm than good to the citizens they claim to protect.

 Efforts to create medical marijuana measures here in the state of Florida are growing. During this year’s election cycle, an amendment initiative similar to the medical marijuana decision that took place in Massachusetts this year almost made the ballot here in Florida.

 It is only a matter of time before Floridians get to decide on similar measures that the citizens of Colorado and Washington did. When that time comes, I hope Florida voters decide to make us the next state that views marijuana as a medical and business issue and not a criminal issue.

Ethan Watters
Contributing Writer


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