By Anna Willoughby
When you turn 18 years old in Ohio, you gain several freedoms. You can now vote, move out, rent an apartment or buy a house, get married and divorced, serve on jury, open a checking account, buy spray paint and aerosol spray. By the state’s standards and purposes, you are considered to be an adult. However, even though you can be forced to risk your life for your country by the government, you can’t legally use marijuana, tobacco, or alcohol. If once you turn 18 you are suddenly responsible for yourself and your actions, you should be in control of the substances you can put in your body. Substances like marijuana should not only be legalized because of freedom of choice and their medicinal value, but also because they can benefit the economy through business growth and increased tax revenues.
Marijuana was criminalized in the 20th century and was further scrutinized by the war on drugs. The war on drugs criminalized the drug and the people that used it (mostly hippies in the 60s and 70s). This legislation targeted groups of people and in a way outcast them from society. It is deemed to be a Schedule 1 drug which means that it can be abused heavily and that it has no medical use. Shockingly, heroin is also considered a schedule 1 drug. It’s crazy that these two drugs are on the same level legally. Heroin overdoses are all over the news outlets but marijuana is not really seen. This is because it’s not a hard drug that can kill you. They’re clearly two very different things. There are hundreds of thousands of people arrested each year for marijuana charges, so you’d think that it would be this dangerous and terrible drug. But, it’s just not. So many people are imprisoned on marijuana charges. Instead of filling prisons with individuals that commit serious crimes, thousands of taxpayer dollars are going towards spots that are filled by marijuana offenders. Not only this, but once someone is put away for a light crime like marijuana use or distribution, they are more likely to return to prison after experiencing that lifestyle.
Marijuana has many health benefits. It can relieve chronic pain and anxiety, regulate diabetes, slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and help with the symptoms from PTSD. Medical marijuana is mostly accepted throughout the state, but all forms should be. The recreational use of marijauana isn’t really harming anyone either. The worst case scenario from using this drug is that you might sit on your couch for a couple hours and eat a good portion of the snacks in your pantry. Depending on the dosage and personal tolerance, smoking marijuana mainly calms you down and slows your motor skills. It doesn’t make you act out or make rash decisions. Unlike drugs such as cocaine, marijuana doesn’t energize you or enhance your senses to dangerous levels. Nicotine and alcohol are both legal to those over 21, and they seem capable of inflicting a lot more damage than marijuana.
Colorado and ten other states in America have legalized marijuana, but you still have to be 21 or older to partake. According to the Chicago Tribune, Colorado made 266 million dollars in tax revenues from marijuana sales. This money was used to fund public school construction, drug abuse and treatment education programs, and local governments. If Ohio followed suit of Colorado and legalized, there would be dramatic improvements in its education systems and local governments. Based on the statistics from the Thomas Fordham Institute, it’s estimated that 829,257 students in public schools or 49.9% of students are considered to be economically disadvantaged. Old and deteriorating schools could be replaced and programs, such as drug safetly and sex education, cound be improved and reintroduced into schools. These revenues could also be used to pay teachers better and better equip schools with supplies. Imagine all that tax revenues could do to benefit these students. Young people are the future and it’d be a good idea to start investing money in their improvement and wellbeing. Not only can tax revenues from marijuana be used to improve Ohio’s schools, but it could also improve our local governments. Many areas are so small and/or impoverished that they don’t have the necessary funds to implement programs or fix local problems. Having this extra money would positively affect everyone in the state if it was used correctly.
The underlying and main reason why marijuana should be legal in Ohio is that adults should have freedom of choice. Once you turn 18 and are now taking on all of the heavy responsibilities of life, you should be able to choose whether you wanna put a substance into your body or not. Marijuana isn’t a dangerous drug and doesn’t have detrimental effects. More than 60% of the population supports the recreational marijuana legalization. It’s insane that Ohio’s state government isn’t giving their people the freedoms that they deserve and are wanting. All they seem to be doing is taking away rights just because they can. An example of this was in late 2019 when Ohio raised the age from 18 to 21 in the purchase of tobacco products. Everyone has known for a long time that nicotine is bad for your health. However, once you’re an adult and you’re accountable for your actions, the government shouldn’t have the right to tell you what substances, however harmful, that you can put into your body. The bottom line is that people are going to use marijuana whether it is legal or not. So, Ohio may as well legalize and start making a profit from it.
As far as the legalization of Marijuana goes in Ohio, the pros clearly outweigh the cons. The legalization will benefit the health of individuals who need it and will improve the economy and quality of the state through tax revenues. It will also give adults a sense of freedom in a world where they are bound to their family, relationship, career, and community responsibilities.
— Anna Willoughby is an Edison State Community College student