Yesterday was a monumental day in Colorado’s cannabis history. Though marijuana has been legal in Colorado, as well as Washington, for over a year, Wednesday was the first day an individual 21-years-old or older is able to buy marijuana in store without being required to show a state-issued-medical-marijuana card and doctor’s recommendation.
Residents of Colorado can purchase up to one ounce of marijuana, while out-of-state visitors are allowed a quarter-ounce but it must be used in-state. They also have the option of growing up to six plants in their residence. It remains prohibited at the airport and across state lines.
At the federal level, marijuana remains illegal in the United States. However, the Justice Department has tentatively granted approval to Colorado and Washington to legalize its recreational use under the condition that the federal authorities would intervene if they failed to keep the substance away from children, drug cartel, federal property, and other states.
An event was held by supporters that included speeches and smoky celebrations. Notably absent were the governor of Colorado and mayor of Denver, both who opposed the controversial legislation. Other opponents of the selling of marijuana for recreational use fear that it will encourage more youth to engage in cannabis use, and put more impaired drivers on the road.
While it is true that marijuana use impairs drivers, if that is the opposition’s main reason to counter this change then alcohol laws also need to be reconsidered. Alcohol is responsible not only for many vehicular accidents, but for serious health problems such as alcoholism and liver disease.
If anything, the end of the prohibition on the recreational use of marijuana may actually help with the detrimental results of marijuana use on society. Placing a regulation on the substance may act as a deterrent, and it allows for closer monitoring of its use.
Though the effects of substance abuse of any kind are often extremely negative, it does not warrant a complete ban on the substance, nor does such a prohibition prove effective against its use. Instead, time and funds should be put towards researching why rates of substance abuse are so high amongst today’s youth, and what institutions can do to change this.