EDITORIAL: To be blunt: marijuana should be legal


Everyone knows someone who smokes weed. That’s just a fact of the world we live in today. What used to be a taboo subculture is now our generation’s normal, and we at the Courier think it’s time the rest of the world accepts this.

The cultural image of a marijuana user has come a long way. From the psychedelic hippies of the ‘60s, to the skateboarding ‘80s burnouts, the subcultures surrounding pot have always been a stereotype. Now, however, we find ourselves in a strange new time where a smoker could be anyone. Maybe it’s your mailman or the dog walker next door. They could be the all-powerful CEO or the stay at home mom. We’ve reached a point where your job title, socioeconomic status or marital status doesn’t mean anything anymore. The subculture has now become our culture.

This is an important first step in becoming aware of just how normal pot smoking is. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, “Illicit drug use in the United States has been increasing. In 2013, an estimated 24.6 million Americans aged 12 or older—9.4 percent of the population—had used an illicit drug in the past month. This number is up from 8.3 percent in 2002. The increase mostly reflects a recent rise in use of marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug.”

“Marijuana use has increased since 2007. In 2013, there were 19.8 million current users—about 7.5 percent of people aged 12 or older—up from 14.5 million (5.8 percent) in 2007.” It is also important to mention that while marijuana use has been rising, the use of other, more serious, drugs have been shrinking.

We think there are a few reasons why this substance has boomed over the last decade. The first is the relation of marijuana to the music business. It’s no secret that artists have been singing about smoking weed for decades. But when you compare artists from the ‘60s and ‘70s to artists nowadays, there is quite a noticeable difference in how they are approaching the topic. Earlier on you would hear songs where the lyrics would allude to the act of smoking weed, but musicians would rarely come right out and say it.

A perfect example of this is “Mary Jane” (1978) by Rick James, with lyrics that say, “And when I’m feeling low, she comes as no surprise / Turns me on with her love, takes me to paradise.” Anyone who is part of the pot culture knows exactly what he is talking about, but people who don’t know that “Mary Jane” is slang for weed might mistake it for a song about a girl.

Then you compare it to a song as blatant as “The Next Episode” (2000) by Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg, Kurupt and Nate Dogg, with it’s most famous lyric “Hope you ready for the next episode, hey / Smoke weed everyday.” There is no doubt that kids growing up listening to this music take example from it, especially because it’s what is playing on the radio. Even if we don’t grow up and start smoking weed, it normalizes it for us and makes it far less of a taboo thing to do.

Another reason we believe it is more widely used and accepted is because of the science that has came out against its counterpart: alcohol. A comparative assessment of the two substances published in Science Reports states alcohol is 114 times more deadly than marijuana. On average, six people die from alcohol poisoning every day, and there has yet to be one death from an overdose of marijuana. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, this is due to the fact that in order to overdose one must consume 40,000 times a “normal” amount of marijuana, which is physically impossible.

So, if our country’s culture has become so accepting of weed, why hasn’t it been legalized at a federal level? There are some states (such as Colorado or Hawaii) that have legalized it recreationally or medicinally. What’s interesting to note is that while these states are dispensing the substance against federal law, they have yet to be attacked for it, which may show a bit of leniency on the capitol’s part. That along with the recent recreational legalization of pot in Washington DC, we are hopeful it means there is some legislative change that is about to happen.

So far, the only solid argument against legalizing marijuana is possible user dependency. It is important to note there is no way for one to become physically dependent on marijuana, but a psychological addiction is a possibility. There is also a possibility of marijuana usage leading you to harder drug use, and that is something that needs to be taken seriously.

We at the Courier, however, feel like legalization could fix such problems. We believe that, much like drinking, smoking should be accepted as a social thing to do. If someone were to get in too deep, the legalization of the substance would make it a lot easier for them to get them rehabilitated. We would be able to have a more open discussion as a country about treatment against addiction and we could help a lot of people in trouble. Furthermore, legalizing marijuana would make the taboo nature of doing something illegal disappear, which is one of the main things that attracts people to using harder drugs.

The legalization of marijuana would be beneficial for the world as a whole. From economic benefits to crime rates, there are thousands of angles we could argue; we could go on for hours. What’s important is, whether you agree with the action or not, smoking isn’t killing anyone. It’s time we allow people to smoke if they choose.