Viewpoint: 2014 brings recreational marijuana use

By on February 5, 2014
image from CBS news

There are now 20 states that allow marijuana for medicinal purposes. However, on January 1, 2014, the state of Colorado will become the first state to legally allow marijuana for recreational use. Colorado has saturated the marijuana distribution industry. It was said on 60 Minutes, “that in Colorado, there are more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks and McDonalds combined.”  The state of Washington has also passed the bill to legalize recreational use of marijuana.

If Alabama were to legalize it, the city of Birmingham would gain a big boost from the legalization of marijuana. In 2012, Jefferson County is 4 billion dollars in debt. Jefferson County is home to three colleges and the legalization could help the county as a whole. UAB is the biggest out of all three and could change the economy if students participated in recreational use. Recreational use in college life is very common among some students.  One college student looked at it is an economic boost to society.

An anonymous UAB student that wanted to remain said, “I think we should legalize marijuana at a certain age. I think we should categorize it with alcohol because its use does give you a drunken sensation. They government should tax it and make some serious revenue. Each state could decide if that tax goes to the city, county or state or put it in the Constitution to legalize it as a country.”

The bill does have regulation that state residents still have to follow. Just like purchasing alcohol, only people over 21 years of age can buy marijuana. If anybody between the ages of 18-21 gets caught with marijuana, they will be fined as defined in (Colorado Amendment 64.) That is only if they have an ounce or less on them. If they are under the age of 18,  the law says they will be sent to a juvenile assessment center, instead of jail.  The people that do purchase it can only purchase one ounce at a time. However UAB students, like other out of state residents are limited to a quarter of an ounce.

The new law that gives residents to use marijuana for medicinal and recreational use is strictly a state law. Marijuana is still classified at the federal level as an illegal narcotic. The Obama administration said in August, they would give states some leeway to experiment with legalizing marijuana. They will also allow Colorado and Washington to carry out the state law to allow marijuana for recreational use.

One fear is about motorists once this law takes effect and what will happen with driving under the influence due to marijuana. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws released on their website, a motorist in Colorado can be ticketed for impaired driving if his or her blood shows 5 nanograms of active THC, the active ingredient of marijuana.

With Colorado and Washington passing these recreational use laws, this may encourage other states to start passing recreational use for marijana. Alabama is one of the 30 states that do not allow marijuana at all. The nation is now watching how this law works in Colorado and Washington. We will just have to wait and see.

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