The tides of opinion are changing in regards to marijuana legalization. Republicans and Democrats alike are starting to understand that, by banning cannabis, we are depriving patients of a chance to be pain free without taking dangerous opioid painkillers and helping them to live healthy, productive lives.
I've never smoked marijuana in my life, and I don't judge those that do, so I come at this complex issue in a couple different ways:
Taxes and Jobs
Currently, Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois have some form of legalized cannabis. If we legalize cannabis, we are able to tax it. These taxes could be used to fully fund public education, invest in our infrastructure, or lower income taxes. Also, the marijuana industry is booming, thus it's creating jobs at a rapid pace. I want those jobs to stay here, and not be lost to our neighbors, who are light-years ahead of us on this critical topic. Let's regulate marijuana, make it safe and tax it, and use it to boost our state's economy.
Alternative to Dangerous Opioid
We're currently in the midst of a crushing opioid epidemic that shows no signs of slowing. We used to think of people dying of drug overdoses as only the most serious drug users. We are quickly and unfortunately finding that opioids are addictive and addiction knows no skin color or socioeconomic status. There is something that can help, however. The Journal of American Medical Association found that in areas that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana, opioid deaths fell by 25%. These aren't just numbers. That 25% is someone's child, mother, uncle, coworker, or friend. We should not be ignoring this critical alternative to these harmful medicines. We should be embracing anything that shows the promise of slowing the opioid epidemic.
Freedom to Make Your Own Choices
I've heard from so many people that make a weekly trip just across the border into Michigan to get their marijuana supply. This is not only inconvenient, with the high price of gas, but it means that another state is getting our tax dollars to better their state. Worse yet, we've lost Hoosiers that move to these different states that have better laws surrounding marijuana. The bottom line is this: we are all adults and can make our own choices. It is for these reasons that, as harmful as they can potentially be, cigarettes and alcohol aren't illegal. We have to strike a balance between public health and the autonomy for adults to make their own decisions regarding their bodies.
Many studies, both scientific and anecdotal have shown the power of cannabis. The rewards of this natural plant far outweigh the very few, very minor side effects. It is time that we gave people another option for them or their children in dealing with chronic illnesses. It's time we legalized cannabis.