Is the war on marijuana usage worth fighting?

Lauri Hoedl, Opinion Editor

Legalizing marijuana is a necessary step to take because government money is being wasted because of the cost of incarceration and it is not thought to be any more harmful than alcohol or tobacco.

Marijuana is currently legal for recreational use in Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon, Massachusetts, Nevada and Washington, and legal for medical use in 27 states.

Decriminalizing marijuana would reduce harm and save government money. The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is fighting to legalize and regulate marijuana.

According to the DPA, marijuana prohibition has been a costly failure. In 2014, there were 700,993 marijuana arrests in the U.S. – roughly 45 percent of all drug arrests.

In “The War On Marijuana in Black And White,” an article by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said “Enforcing marijuana laws costs us about $3.6 billion a year,” and that “of the 8.2 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88% were for simply having marijuana.”

Marijuana arrests are also found to be extremely racially biased.

The ACLU said “Marijuana use is roughly equal among Blacks and whites, yet Blacks are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession,” while, “In some states and counties, blacks are 8, 10, or even 15 times more likely to be arrested.”

When compared to other legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, marijuana does not pose any more risks to one’s health than alcohol or tobacco.

In “Is marijuana as safe as — or safer than – alcohol?” a CNN Health article written by Jen Christensen and Jacque Wilson, they compare the traits of both substances.

Wilson said, “The addictive qualities of marijuana are not yet fully understood,” and CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, said, “it is hard to make a case that it has a high potential for abuse.”

Alcohol, on the other hand, has well-known addictive qualities. said “Around 17 million adults can be classified as having an alcohol problem.”

Though marijuana is not as harmful as other drugs, it still has some risks.

The National Institution on Drug Abuse said, “When people begin using marijuana as teenagers, the drug may impair thinking, memory, and learning functions and affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions”

It is also known to irritate lungs and increase heart rate.

In “Marijuana: Health effects of recreational and medical use” a Harvard health article by Wynee Armand, she said, “The current FDA-approved medications containing synthetic THC are dronabinol (Marinol capsules, Syndros liquid) and nabilone (Cesamet). These drugs are prescribed as appetite stimulants in AIDS patients and for chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. “

Medical marijuana is also thought to help with anxiety disorders and epilepsy