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Essay on Prop 64, Recreational Marijuana Legalization

Posted on here awhile back asking you guys about a good topic to write about for an argumentative essay, and decided on one. Prop 64 is definitely an historic bill, and it'll be exciting to see it pass just to give a big "f you" to the feds. So yeah, here it is. There is a little rephrasing needed, and the sources are all in a separate word doc, but it's definitely passable now. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

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Yes on Initiative #30

Initiative 30 (or Proposal 64) is one of the most important ballot issues in America, and it is being voted on in Colorado. The bill in its entirety reads:
“Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning marijuana, and, in connection therewith, providing for the regulation of marijuana; permitting a person twenty-one years of age or older to consume or possess limited amounts of marijuana; providing for the licensing of cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, and retail stores; permitting local governments to regulate or prohibit such facilities; requiring the general assembly to enact an excise tax to be levied upon wholesale sales of marijuana; requiring that the first $40 million in revenue raised annually by such tax be credited to the public school capital construction assistance fund; and requiring the general assembly to enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp?(Initiative 30)

In English, the bill states that marijuana would, basically, be taxed like alcohol, but stricter. By law, it would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, purchased from licensed retailers only. It would be treated like cigarettes and alcohol, with the first $40 million in revenues being donated to public schools in Colorado. Just a few minutes of research will show you that there are many positives for legalization of recreational marijuana. One of the most convincing arguments for the bill is the economic impact it would have.

According to a report done by the Colorado Center on Law & Policy, the passing of Prop 64 would save $12 million in criminal costs, as less people would be arrested for possession. It would also create up to $47 million from excise, state, and local tax revenues. Along with the money made, it would create around 400 jobs in school construction projects from the first $40 million made in revenues (Stiffler). Not only would it create jobs there, but also in the growing industry. As the plant would be legalized, companies would rush to get licensed to grow, which would create many jobs including growing, security, administrators, and many more. To understand the impact of this, we have to ask the question; what is the net worth of the marijuana industry? In 2006, ABC News called marijuana the top cash cow in the U.S., with it pulling in over $35 billion in profit annually. To compare, corn pulled in $23 billion, and wheat $7 billion (Venkataraman). To think that the plant is illegal, when it pulls in that much money, is mind boggling; especially since all that money is staying with street dealers, and drug cartels, and being sold to droves of minors all over the country. A troubling find in recent years has been an increasing number of kids who smoke marijuana. According to a study done at drugfree.org, 47% of teens have used marijuana; with 9% of them smoking weed heavily (drugfree.org). These stats are a direct effect of the war waged on cannabis. By making the drug illegal, you increase demand among younger people.

Along with the economic plusses, there are also quite a few social plusses. When you talk to someone who knows next to nothing about marijuana, the first reaction you get is, “oh, you mean that super addictive drug that ruins people’s lives?” It does ruin people’s lives, but not in the ways you think. Marijuana being “super addictive” is a myth. According to a German study conducted on 1,400 cannabis users, only 10% of recreational users became dependent on it (Dependence Liability). Compared to cigarettes, 32% of smokers are highly dependent on nicotine (Reinburg), and alcohol users, of which 15% are alcoholics. This means that marijuana users are no more likely to become addicted to it as the 12% of gamers who are addicted to video games (Grusser, et al). As far as ruining people’s lives, its use alone does not. When one uses marijuana, it is usually to experience the high that accompanies it. Why do people usually get high? To be happy, relieve stress, and forget your troubles for a little while. If one were against that, then they would have to be against drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and even watching TV; otherwise their argument would be highly inconsistent. All of these things allow you to blow off steam, and they are all harmful if overused, not just marijuana.

Another reason Initiative 30 should be passed is that every single person has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The current war on cannabis does not help people live happier lives, it hurts them; especially minorities. As Forbes put it, “The War on Drugs is a War on Minorities and the Poor.” According to a study conducted by them, 62% of drug offenders sent to prison are African-American, when the African-American population only represents 12% of the total U.S. population. Black men are jailed at 13 times the rate of white men (Kain). If that doesn’t raise a few eyebrows, I’m not sure what would.

Colorado is making great steps towards ending this, and very well could be the first state to legalize growing, selling, and recreationally using marijuana. When it does, the speculation about its effects would end, and we would all see the positive, and negative, impacts it would have on the state, and the impacts it could have on the whole country.



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