As Texans swing in support, legalization of marijuana looking more viable
For several years, there have been whispers about whether the usage of marijuana should be legalized in various states. With states like California, Oregon and Alaska having a version of legalized marijuana usage in effect, it was only a matter of time before talks began to surface in Texas of doing the same. According to a recent Public Policy Polling survey of 860 Texas voters, 58 percent of Texans support the legalization of marijuana.
In Texas, marijuana is currently forbidden, and if caught with the substance, an individual could receive a fine and up to one year in jail.
Many people may even be shocked to hear about older individuals smoking marijuana, but according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, more than 6 percent of people aged 50 to 59 used marijuana in 2011.
In an interview with The New York Times, retired teacher Cher Neufer, 65, revealed that to her, “socializing with friends, all in their 60s, means using marijuana.”
According to The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, 45 percent of youth aged 18-29 voted in 2012, down from 51 percent in 2008. This may be a very important variable. Because older individuals are dominating the percentage of voters, this may be the reason voting results are more in favor of Texas legalizing marijuana than before.
Some believe that legalizing marijuana would have a tremendous impact on the Texas economy.
Caroline Fairchild of The Huffington Post said, “According to a 2010 study from Cato, legalizing marijuana would generate $8.7 billion in federal and state tax revenue annually.”
As reported by Marijuana Policy Project, economist Jeffrey Miron of Harvard University said that if we do away with marijuana prohibition, America could stand to save anywhere from $10 billion to $14 billion per year in reduced government spending. With a big fuss over the U.S. deficit, some Americans believe this to be a very appealing proposal. Also, the state of Washington revealed to The Huffington Post that it stands to make an estimated $1.9 billion from marijuana taxation over a five-year span.
Marijuana may also soon play a larger role in politics. After the 16-day shutdown, Republicans may be in need of a boost toward a new direction, Rick Thompson said on The Weed Blog. Thompson also said that Republicans could gain the new supporters if they were to support the legalization of marijuana.
With so many people in Texas in favor of legalization of marijuana, this is exactly what Republicans may want to support. Legalization of marijuana could indeed gain Republicans a fighting chance for the youth vote.
On the other hand, this still leaves over 35 percent of Texans who have a different viewpoint on the legalization of marijuana.
Finance senior Victoria Banjo, who is against the legalization of marijuana, said, “Just because marijuana has never killed anyone, I believe that it could still have harmful long-term side effects on the human body.”
This may be true. All drugs have some kind of side effects. Even though marijuana has not yet been proven to be a cause of death, it would be ignorant to believe it has no harmful effect to the body at all.
“Marijuana use impairs a person’s ability to form new memories,” according to the National Institutes of Health. “THC also disrupts coordination and balance by binding to receptors in the cerebellum and basal ganglia — parts of the brain that regulate balance, posture, coordination and reaction time.” This is the reason NIH states that under the influence of marijuana, an individual learning, dealing with difficult tasks or driving is impaired.
If we can market tobacco and make a profit from it, then I feel we should do the same for marijuana.
Texas would become the No. 1-grossing state in the U.S. if it legalizes marijuana, according to Change.org. This would put the Texas economy in an even better position than it already is. Instead of the $10,000 it costs per person when someone is arrested for possession of marijuana, that money could be saved and we could have more revenue coming into the state.
Opinion columnist Derail Texada is a communications junior and may be reached at [email protected]