MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION

Researched & written by: Maggie Bishop, Ebony Chappel & Rubin Pusha

Mary Jane. Herb. Devil’s Lettuce. Whatever you call it, marijuana and its legalization have emerged as a key political issue. In 2000, Colorado became one of the first states to pass legislation decriminalizing marijuana for medical usage. In 2012, 55 percent of Colorado’s electorate voted to end the prohibition on recreational marijuana leading to a system being established in 2013 to regulate, tax and distribute marijuana similar to the alcohol industry. The benefits of Colorado’s sweeping marijuana legislation have been tremendous (e.g., law enforcement resources are freed up, almost $770 million in tax revenue has been collected since 2014 and over 23,000 jobs have been created). On the downside, high taxes on marijuana have increased black market transactions and there have also been issues of the drug being trafficked across state lines. Though legalization of marijuana has continued to progress nationwide, certain states continue to lag behind. Indiana, for example, was one of the first to hop on the cannabis prohibition train in the 1930s and has maintained some of the toughest anti-weed laws since. However, the tide may be changing with the legalization of CBD oil this past spring urging lawmakers to consider the medical benefits of the plant. Hoosiers shouldn’t expect to see dispensaries pop up like McDonald’s in the neighborhoods anytime soon though. Governor Holcomb praised the legislature for the recently passed CBD oil bill, but stopped way short of endorsing recreational marijuana legislation by stating, “At this time, I’m trying to get drugs off the street, not add more into the mix.”

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