Wandschneider: Marijuana: A lesser evil

A resident lights a bowl of marijuanna in one of the residence halls. Pot is the most commonly used illegal drug that people are cited for in residence halls. Photo: Rashah McChesney/Iowa State Daily

A resident lights a bowl of marijuanna in one of the residence halls. Pot is the most commonly used illegal drug that people are cited for in residence halls. Photo: Rashah McChesney/Iowa State Daily

Jamie Wandschneider

There is an old saying that history repeats itself, and if we take a look back into our history, we will see that history is, once again, doing just that.

In 1919, the 18th Amendment was passed. This amendment made alcohol illegal in the United States. This did not end so well; many people still found ways to drink alcohol and anger and unrest seethed.

This is happening again — only not with alcohol, but marijuana.

For years, there has been a debate over whether or not marijuana should be legalized in the United States. More and more states are proposing bills to make marijuana a legal drug. As of 2012, 20 states have passed laws to have marijuana legalized for medicals uses. On Oct. 3, Iowa Sen. Joe Bolkcom proposed a bill to have marijuana legalized for medical purposes in Iowa.

With the possibility of the law being proposed in my home state, it got me thinking: “Should marijuana be legal?”

After looking at both sides’ convincing arguments, the big picture shows that marijuana should be legalized in the United States.

When we think of marijuana users, hippies are one of the first images that might come to mind. We think of people who smoke weed to be dirty and lazy. The term “pothead” instantly makes us think of the generalized stereotype.

It is because of this stigma that marijuana has such a poor reputation. Many successful people have admitted to using marijuana. A few of these iconic society members are: Maya Angelou, Martha Stewart, Morgan Freeman and Ted Turner.

By stepping away from the stereotype it is easier to see why marijuana should be decriminalized.

A misconception is that marijuana is this big terrible drug. In reality, it is less dangerous than some of the drugs that we consider legal. When compared with alcohol, marijuana is a much better option.

Unlike alcohol, there is no recorded evidence that someone has died from a marijuana overdose. In 2010, 25,692 deaths were caused by alcohol. That number shows how deadly alcohol, a legal drug, can be. If marijuana is responsible for zero deaths, then how does that make it worse than alcohol?

Simply by nature, humans are risk takers. And what is a better way to take risks than by doing something illegal? If marijuana is to be legalized, that excitement of doing something taboo or illegal will be diminished. It wouldn’t be as “fun” since there isn’t that risk of getting caught and being punished for it.

By having marijuana legalized, medical fields would find much value in using it for treatments. As a medicine, marijuana is used to help treat symptoms for cancer, AIDS, glaucoma and to help a variety of pain. By not having it legalized, patients are unable to receive this kind of treatment. Research on different uses for this drug will be able to move forward at a much quicker pace if it becomes legal to use it.

So by permitting marijuana for medical uses, ill people will be able to get the help they need. But, by having it available in that form, it is a worry that people will get ahold of it for nonmedical reasons.

This is true, but many people get ahold of medical drugs and use it for nonmedical purposes. If legalized, there can be stricter rules on who is able to get it and how they are able to do so. Also, if it is completely legal, people won’t feel the need to try and steal it when they are able to go buy it themselves.

If people are able to go to a store a purchase it, the government will be able to put a tax on it. This has potential to bring in quite a bit of money into our dragging economy.

There will have to be a plan on how marijuana would be regulated if the law were to pass. It would need to be treated like tobacco or alcohol in the sense of regulation. The drug should not be smoked in public places, similarly to tobacco. A legal age would have to be established, so only people of that age could purchase it.

No matter what, marijuana is a drug, and it does have its consequences. There is a health risk, but there are drugs that have bigger health risks legalized. If marijuana is to be legalized in the United States, it has to be like all other legal drugs — regulated.

If the drugs we consider legal are more dangerous than marijuana, then is the fight to keep marijuana illegal worth it?