The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Government must step up to legalize weed

Tj Favela/The Collegian
Tj Favela/The Collegian

The war on drugs has been going on for about 50 years now, and it’s time to admit it didn’t work. 

The U.S. has overwhelmingly punished people of color for the use of marijuana, a substance that has more positive effects than alcohol or cigarettes.  

A Black person is 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Black and white people use marijuana at similar rates, according to an American Civil Liberties Union press release. 

The federal government must be the one to legalize marijuana since conservative states such as Texas are unlikely to become progressive on this issue. It would also need to clean up the massive mess of millions of people in prison for marijuana charges.

April 1, the House passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act. This would decriminalize cannabis, removing it from the federal list of controlled substances. 

This is unlikely to pass the Senate, and President Joe Biden’s hesitancy to legalize marijuana on a federal level doesn’t help, seeing that he once called it a “gateway drug” on the campaign trail

It’s a great first step for legalization to become a reality. This is one issue that’s overwhelmingly supported by the American people. 

Overall, 91% of American adults say marijuana should be legal for recreational or medical use, according to Pew Research Center. 

This could potentially be a great advantage to whoever can drag their party out of the Stone Age and to the 21st century and push for the legalization of weed. 

This issue could swing an election. 

While it’s most likely the Democrats will achieve this, you can never underestimate their ability to miss the political moment and let the Grand Old Party steal an easy layup. 

At this point, It’s a matter of when weed will be legalized at the federal level. Once it is, federal and state governments must be willing to clean millions of records. 

These people’s lives are forever ruined due to having this blemish. They can’t get financial aid for higher education, travel abroad, get a house or a job, and most importantly, vote. 

Why are these people being held in a facility with people who have committed more severe crimes?

It’s due to the privatization of prisons. Private companies run prisons for both the federal government and 29 states. Private companies hold about 8% of inmates around the U.S., according to The Sentencing Project

According to World Population Review, the U.S. ranked first in the incarceration rate. 

Once again, it is evident the federal government sold out the majority of the population to benefit a small portion of people, using the funds to lobby in Washington D.C. 

The Trump administration reversed an Obama administration policy regarding the Justice Depart­ment’s reli­ance on private pris­ons. 

The Biden administration has reversed Trump’s awful decision, to give credit where credit is due. But there needs to be a whole restructuring of the prison system to ensure that it doesn’t disenfranchise millions of minorities and actually rehabilitate them. 

While marijuana is overall more beneficial than other substances, it still needs to be highly regulated and taxed. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using marijuana before age 18 may affect how the brain builds connections for functions like attention, memory and learning. 

The brain doesn’t fully develop until the age of 25. Therefore, the minimum age should be at least 21 to consume it and there should be laws that prohibit driving under the influence of marijuana.

The taxation of it will greatly affect the federal deficit. The state of Oregon generated $60.2 million in tax revenue from recreational marijuana in 2016. It was originally estimated marijuana sales would produce $44 million during the year. 

The federal government must step up and take this one step closer to ending this war on drugs that disproportionately targets minorities. 

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