BY TYLER D’AMBROSIO
Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 1999, but this is the first time that recreational legalization efforts seem to actually be taking hold. 2016 is a good enough year as any for it to finally be legalized as our culture has accepted smoking marijuana as normal.
Four states along with District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. That’s only looking to increase with the referendum questions on the voting ballots for Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada. They all have different wording but all boil down to say one thing, marijuana should be legal.
The medical aspects are well-documented at this point. And the recreational usage of it is common practice within not only legal states, but illegal ones as well. While the drug is categorized as a Schedule I drug along with LSD and heroin, unlike those drugs marijuana is harmless to anybody other than the user. And it should be treated as such, not chastised due to a decrepit law.
For Orono residents wishing to give their vote on the referendum question, voting occurred on Tuesday, Nov. 8 at the University of Maine New Balance Field House.
The general trend amongst those voting on campus is a vote for “Yes” on referendum Question One. A “Yes” meaning that adults, age 21 or older, in the state are legally permitted to have up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana along with any accessories. Along with other restrictions for growing.
For the group of people voting “Yes”, freshman psychology major Nathan Bradstreet said. “It’s gonna happen anyway.” said Bradstreet when talking about legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
“[Police should] focus on more important issues.” said Bradstreet.
Sara Lello, a fourth year instructor and student advisor at UMaine, gave her input on the matter. She said that she will be voting “yes” and going with “the trend” of other states in the country. When asked about its potential effect on students, “there already is one. It shouldn’t be happening, but it does.” said Lello.
Marijuana is already used recreationally on campus, and it will be regardless of the results. In addition, I can say that without some form of regulation, all that is happening is wasted jail space and wasted time spent on busting a students who are in possession of marijuana.
On the contrary, a freshman nursing student Victoria Hale says that she decided to vote “no” on question 1. When asked about the current laws and regulations of the drug, “[she has] no problem with it as is,” said Hale. In her eyes, recreational marijuana has no place in today’s world and should remain illegal in the state of Maine.
One valid concern and a reason for legalization is the lacing of other illegal substances on illegal marijuana. Unless, it is regulated and professionally monitored, there is still a chance that what’s being sold on the black market is dangerous and in fact not as advertised. And we who are advocating for legalization, want everybody to have a safe experience with weed.
Jobs are also set to be created for every step from growing-to-selling-to-using. According to the Marijuana Policy Group, over 18,000 jobs were created in the state of Colorado in 2015 alone.
An estimated $2.8 million dollars is expected to be gained in revenue on the proposed 10% tax for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, and that number is set only to increase in the coming years. That money is coming everywhere from growing the plants to building the dispensary buildings. Tourism is also set to increase as U.S. citizens from other states will flock to get a chance to buy legal marijuana for the first times in their lives.
Medical Marijuana users such as Elizabeth Doyle,19, of Orono also are pro-recreational marijuana. Doyle has been a medical user for six months. “It’s gonna be really positive for Maine’s economy.” said Doyle. And I completely agree with that. The economy will only get stronger from this and I believe that many of the issues people currently have with it will fade with time. “[It’s] not gonna be a lot of bad things like people think it will be.” said Doyle.
One day, I hope that smoking a joint will come to be the same as having a beer on the porch with your father. People will come to see it as a social equivalent to alcohol. Marijuana social clubs are set to pop up and create safe atmospheres for those who wish to smoke.
It is time that marijuana becomes legal recreationally in the state of Maine and in all of The United States. The fiscal benefits along with the increased social acceptance of it are both major reasons that the popular drug be legalized. And hopefully, 2016 is the year that it finally is.