Updated: Apr 23, 2019
By: Veronica Wheat
Throughout the country, there are various levels of marijuana legalization. Some states have simply approved marijuana use for medical purposes while others have approved the use of marijuana for recreational purposes as well. On the other hand, marijuana is still illegal in other states, including Texas. Throughout the country, there are many differing opinions on this topic and UT Tyler’s population is no different.
Many students’ opinions about marijuana stem from past experiences. For example, Emma Charlo, a student at UT Tyler, says “ I’ve just always been taught, growing up, that it was bad, and I’ve seen bad things happen to people because of marijuana use.” Charlo does not believe that marijuana should be legalized and she is not alone in this belief. According to a poll conducted by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune in 2018, 16% of those polled believe that marijuana should remain illegal.
Others believe that if marijuana is legalized, there should be specific limitations placed on it in order to ensure the public’s safety. “I feel like marijuana should have to abide by the same rules that alcohol does, such as age restrictions. People also shouldn’t be able to drive under the influence of marijuana,” Hana Abuhatab, a UT Tyler junior, says. Sophomore, Kylie Ledford has a similar concern. “I imagine high driving will be a bigger thing,” she says.
Marijuana affects a person’s coordination and judgement, both of which are important parts of safely driving. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, driving under the influence of marijuana carries the same consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol. There are tests, similar to a breathalyzer test for alcohol, that determine the amount of marijuana that a person has in their system. If the person is over the legal limit for the state, they could face criminal charges.
While some believe that marijuana should be illegal, there are many that believe Texas should legalize it either for medicinal or recreational use. Ashley Benefield, a senior at UT Tyler, says, ““I’ve never tried marijuana but I’ve heard it has positive effects for those who suffer with anxiety like I do.” She goes on to discuss how a natural form of treatment, such as marijuana, could be more effective compared to the side effects of prescribed medications.
Marijuana is used for a variety of medicinal purposes. It is often used to treat minor pain in place of opioids and is viewed as safer because marijuana is less addictive. According to studies by Harvard, marijuana has also been shown to decrease nerve pain for people with multiple sclerosis. Marijuana also helps increase appetite for those suffering with nausea or weight loss.
UT Tyler student, Ryan Wilson, discusses a more monetary benefit of the legalization of marijuana. He feels that marijuana should be legalized in order to decrease the amount of money that taxpayers spend on arrests due to marijuana. According to Jon Gettman, a professor at Shenandoah University in Virginia, who gathered information from the FBI, Texas ranked number one in the country for the amount of marijuana-related arrests in 2016. 98% of these arrests were for marijuana possession, which is considered fairly minor compared to other charges.
Overall, there are many different aspects of marijuana legalization for people to consider. Each side of the argument has valid points and it is up to each individual to educate themselves on the full scope of the benefits and downfalls of marijuana.