by Brianna Ford

In this year’s midterm elections, Oregon, Alaska and Washington D.C. voted to legalize the use of marijuana. Initiative 71 states that adults over the age of 21 can possess up to two ounces of marijuana and grow up to six marijuana plants at home. Those in Oregon and Alaska who voted “yes” to Initiative 71, made pot shops and the recreational use of marijuana legal. However, possession in D.C. was made legal, but the authorization and commercial production or distribution remains illegal.

The issue of marijuana legalization has sparked a loud debate throughout the country. Although it has proven to be a controversial issue, marijuana is the most commonly used illegal substance. Twenty-four states have legalized marijuana for medical use by prescription. Eighteen states have decriminalized its use, but only four states have legalized recreational use. According to pewresearch.org, 63 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of Republicans passed a joint resolution to vote for Initiative 71. Despite this concurrence, there are many Americans still against the legalization of this drug. The question is, why?

Marijuana is derived from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. After inhaling, THC is quickly transported throughout the respiratory and circulatory systems. It enters the blood, which causes it to quickly spread throughout the entire body. According to livestrong.com, different areas of the brain each have varying quantities of receptors for THC. The receptors that are affected by THC are thinking ability and concentration, sensory perception as well as perception of time, areas of memory, pleasure and coordination. Marijuana has not been linked to causing any deaths; however it can cause lung problems such as an ongoing cough and an increased heart rate. Research for the long term effects of marijuana on the brain have been inconsistent, which most likely means the effects are too subtle for detection.

Compared to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, weed appears to be much less harmless. Alcohol has both long-term and short-term effects that are both detrimental to a person’s health. The short-term effects of alcohol include injuries, such as accidents, vehicle crashes and alcohol poisoning. The long term effects are cancer, diseases, mental health problems and alcohol dependence. Comparing 3.3 million alcohol related deaths per year to zero marijuana related deaths proves that alcohol is much more dangerous for the body.

Over the next few years, multiple other states are predicted to vote for the legalization of this drug, whether the recreational use of marijuana will be legalized is still undetermined. The seemingly harmless effects of marijuana have shown that controlled usage of this drug is not dangerous. Therefore, recreational use should be legalized, with restrictions.