Note: The following is part of a series of posts from students at Swansea University, located in Wales. The students have visiting Colorado State University and learning about America and its media.
By Jeny Nevard
The appropriate age for legal alcohol and drug consumption in the U.S. is under continued scrutiny by young people around the country. Colorado is one of nineteen states that have held long-term debates discussing the legalizing of Marijuana for medical uses.
A recent poll by the internet activist site ‘NORML‘ claims to have found 56% of the 1,000 American respondents would like to see the drug legalized and moderated in a similar way to alcohol and tobacco across the country. Country music singer Willie Nelson is a major liberal activist and the co-chair of the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, in favor of marijuana legalization. The 79 year old was arrested two years ago for possession of cannabis, and following this created a ‘Teaparty’ group to: “Tax it, regulate it and legalize it!” NORML state that their ‘mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to achieve the repeal of marijuana prohibition so that the responsible use of cannabis by adults is no longer subject to penalty.’ Similar to Nelson’s view, the not-for-profit organization also claims that in some states the legalizing of this drug may help to reduce economic deficits without having to raise taxes for all citizens.
This claim, although perhaps partially logical, seems slightly absurd personally. An increase in drugs around Fort Collins town cannot be positive for the 98% of people who are not users, so laws would need to be modified to ensure a festival-style party does not break out every weekend with tourists and families around. Potentially though, if individuals choose to take advantage of a latent change of law, there will be an uncontrollable increase in Lil Wayne’s wandering the streets of Old Town, all courtesy of the state government.
With this issue closer to home, research has found that 2% of Colorado’s residents are now registered users, meaning that in 2012, a candidates’ view of the issue could cost them their campaign.
As Morgan Fox admitted:
“It is totally possible the presidential election can swing on the marijuana issue,” communications manager at the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington-based lobbying group.
Campaign director for the use of legal marijuana in Arkansas, Ryan Denham said, “Ultimately, for me, this is an education campaign, we really have changed the mind of a lot of people out there.” Many activists argue that there is a true medical need for some individuals to reduce pain without the detrimental use of alcohol, while further discussions have considered the need for adults’ freedom.
As a current student in the UK, I am fully aware of the availability of marijuana for illegal consumption, however I feel an abrupt change in the law could cause a rebellion beyond the control of any skilled police forces in terms of negative driving and party related incidents. If marijuana is made available without punishment to all adults however, has anyone considered how long it will take before teenagers jump on the activists bandwagon to argue use for themselves also?
Read more: http://www.norml.org