Although there are negative effects of marijuana being illegal at the recreational level, there are also solutions and benefits to these problems. The first and most important thing the state will have to do in order to legalize recreational cannabis is decriminalize the drug. If marijuana was decriminalized in the state of Minnesota, crime rates and arrest would decrease. According to Christopher Ingraham, a writer for the Washington Post said, “In Colorado, marijuana arrests fell by nearly half from 2012 to 2014. Marijuana possession charges in Washington state fell by a more dramatic 98 percent between 2012 and 2013. Alaska, Oregon, and D.C. show similar declines.” Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, and D.C. saw major benefits when they decided to make marijuana legal for recreational use. If Minnesota decriminalized marijuana, not as many people would be in jail, which would help with the over crowdedness in prisons in the state. Colorado alone has compiled several research studies demonstrating that legalization has not promoted an increase in violent crimes. “During the first year of the implementation of Amendment 64, Denver experienced a 2.2 percent decrease in violent crime rates and an 8.9 percent reduction in property crime offenses, according to research conducted by the Drug Policy Alliance” (Heuberger). Decriminalizing cannabis will help our police department focus on more violent and heavy drug-related crimes. This evidence provides proof that legalizing recreational cannabis will help decrease crime rates.
The next step the state of Minnesota will have to take after decriminalizing marijuana is regulate it. Once marijuana is regulated, there will then be rules set on it and it will also help shut down the black market. If Minnesota decided to regulate and set rules on cannabis it would probably be similar to the regulations Colorado set on marijuana. In Colorado, many of the laws are similar to alcohol laws across the country. Some of the useful regulations they put on marijuana consist of individuals needing a license in order to sell marijuana. You also need to be 21 or older to buy it. Users would be able to buy and consume up to an ounce of marijuana. No one can use it in a car. Employers can regulate whether or not you can use it at work and safeguards will be in place so it is as safe as it can possibly be to ensure that no one gets it that shouldn’t be using it (Kamal). These are all very safe and good laws that will make the use of marijuana better for the state. These laws are necessary in order to keep marijuana safe for the public. According to “Marijuana Legalization and Regulation”, drug trafficking is a major issue and regulating marijuana will help slow it down. “With drug trafficking persisting as a major issue in cities like Chicago, the solution of legalizing marijuana could break it down. Legalizing an illegal recreational drug would remove it out of the black market. With organized gangs profiting in the drugs, they would get hit where it really hurts – their wallets.” If Minnesota regulated marijuana it would become much safer to use. People who buy marijuana from dispensaries know exactly how much they are getting and how potent the drug is. This makes it safer for individuals because they know how much they should consume.
If the state of Minnesota decriminalized and regulated marijuana, our state’s economy would benefit in many ways by letting citizens invest in marijuana studies and dispensaries to Create jobs. According to Alan Pyke a deputy economic policy writer, the legal cannabis industry is one of the most efficient ways to generate new economic activity. He states, “It turns out pot is a stronger economic driver than 90 percent of the industries active in Colorado. Legal weed created 18,005 full-time jobs and added about $2.4 billion to the state’s economy in 2015 an analysis from the Marijuana Policy Group(MPG) shows.” These are numbers that cannot be ignored. Colorado has been using the 2.4 billion dollars on building new schools and creating a better educational system. It also gave a total of 18,005 people full-time jobs. This will help the unemployment rates in the state of Minnesota and give more people money to spend freely in the economy. “MED Licensed Facilities” from Colorado Department of Revenue Enforcement Division has a total of 506 retail marijuana stores in the state of Colorado since November first, 2017. Each bringing in highly trained professionals educated about cannabis and its abilities. These stores do not include product manufacturers, testing facilities, and transporters. Each having a positive impact on the state’s economy by giving individuals’ jobs and giving more people opportunities to research marijuana.
Many people might say that legalizing marijuana will cause more accidents on our roads in the state. Though smoking and driving might not be safe it isn’t as bad as many people think. A study conducted by Suanne Schaad, Substance Awareness Coordinator, concluded that drivers with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level of .08, the legal limit, were four times as likely to crash in comparison to a sober driver. On the other hand, the subjects found to be high while driving experienced a low five percent increase in the likelihood of a crash. Five percent more likely is incomparable to being four times as likely. Yet both impair an individual’s driving ability, marijuana is much safer yet still should not be done. Benjamin Hansen, an economist at the University of Oregon in Eugene and at the National Bureau of Economic Research, who has studied marijuana legalization in relation to driving accidents has come to the conclusion that “Though marijuana does impair driving abilities, there isn’t data that shows it may increase traffic accidents.” Despite being under the influence of cannabis can impair driving abilities, research has proven that it is significantly safer than drinking and driving although both should not be done. Currently, many companies are trying to create an item similar to a breathalyzer that has the ability to detect if someone is under the influence of marijuana.
Another argument that Minnesotans have about legalizing recreational use of marijuana is, it will then be easier for the youth to get and they will be more likely to use it. Yet this may increase the amount of marijuana in the state and be in more households. It does not mean that younger people will get a hold of it and consume it. A survey was conducted in Colorado during 2015 and found 21 percent of the youth had used marijuana in the past 30 days. That rate is slightly lower than the national average and down slightly from the 25 percent who used marijuana in 2009, before legalization. This survey was a random sample of 17,000 middle and high school students in Colorado. Yet Minnesota may not see the same result, the difference of the youth using marijuana is very slim. “Nationally, roughly 80 percent of 12th-graders say that pot is easy to get. The kids who want to smoke weed are probably already doing so — and legalization would do little to change that” (Ingraham). Currently, the safest thing to do for the people in Minnesota is to regulate and test the drug so people know how potent and strong the drug is that they are getting.
Throughout the course of researching the topic of marijuana, I have come to the conclusion that legalization of recreational marijuana would benefit our state as a whole, but first, the state needs to decriminalize marijuana, regulate it, and let citizens invest in marijuana studies to create jobs to help the economy. Currently, there is a bill floating around the house of representatives according to Twin Cities News Writer Rana Kamal, “proponents of marijuana are pushing for a new law- to legalize recreational weed. Jon Applebaum, who represents House District 44B, introduced the first bill of its kind, which would allow the cultivation and sales of marijuana for personal use in the state for those 21 and older.” This is big news for Minnesota and is a conversation starter. Soon it will be in the hand of the public to vote on whether or not marijuana should become legal in the state of Minnesota. You yourself can make an impact today and help legalize marijuana by getting connect on social media, staying informed, and getting involved by signing petitions like the one found on httpswww.change.orgpminnesota-state-senate-let-the-people-vote-on-legal-marijuana-in-minnesota. Now the question to many Minnesotans are asking themselves is when will marijuana become legal, not if.