Mary Jane: Wow, she’s still not legal?

Some people shake in their boots at the thought of legalizing marijuana. The idea that it could be regulated and controlled like alcohol and tobacco scares the hell out of them. Those people are ignorant and disillusioned, and it’s at no fault of their own.

Both our grandparents and parents were exposed to the mentality that smoking pot will send a person into a Reefer Madness lifestyle. They were mortified at images of hit-and-run accidents, suicide, murder and rape—all at the hands of the theatrical, over-the-top dramatization of what happens when people get high.

Since we were kids, we were warned that our brain on drugs was the equivalent of a smashed egg. Let us not forget that we have also been exposed to plenty of “Just Say No” lectures, Red Ribbon Week campaigns and cheesy after-school specials about the dangerous consequences of doing drugs, specifically marijuana.

Unfortunately, these crazy, outlandish fears are built on unsubstantiated “evidence” and unfair stereotypes of drug users.
Some of the fear comes from the idea that everyone will smoke pot because it’s legal. Worried parents might think that this could have a bandwagon effect on their children, who will jump on and light up because it’s legal now. Worried anti-drug proponents might be concerned that their streets will be filled with Bob Marley-loving, homeless-looking, peace-and-love-seeking anti-social vagrants.

However, chances are someone you know, and probably someone you never would have expected has smoked pot. As it is the most accessible drug out there, more people than ever are indulging. A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that 17.4 million people in the United States regularly smoke marijuana, a number that has increased over the past five years.

It’s already a presence and it’s already out there. People are already smoking it.

They often assume that since it is a drug, then it is bad for you; however, according to a recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, it is not as detrimental to one’s health as previously assumed.

The study found that smoking marijuana on an occasional basis does not significantly damage the lungs. In fact, they found that after smoking one joint a day for seven years, no damage was found on the lungs, and lung function remained unharmed.
However, that is not the case with tobacco. The study also found that, despite marijuana containing many of the same chemicals as tobacco, lung function declined with increased exposure to tobacco at a faster rate than exposure to marijuana.

Those against the legalization of marijuana are also neglecting its current beneficial uses. Its medicinal impact for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation has been significant. It has made life more tolerable for people suffering from pain and discomfort due to glaucoma. It has become a valuable and viable resource for extending the quality of life for anyone who is suffering.

Like all things, marijuana used in moderation is not—and should not—be an issue. People who are afraid of its legalization are blinded by the far-fetched and unfounded claims that have been pounded into their head since they were children.

The time has come for people to realize that their fears are unnecessary. It is now time to come out from under the shadow of disillusion and realize that the scarlet letter that was once slapped onto casual marijuana users is no longer acceptable or valid.

About Hailey Moran