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PROPOSAL TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA SPARKS CONVERSATION ABOUT AFFECTS OF LEGALIZING THE DRUG

4/5/2017, noon | Updated on 4/5/2017, noon
Marijuana advocates are trying to lay the groundwork for Illinois to become the first state in the Midwest and the ...

PROPOSAL TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA SPARKS CONVERSATION ABOUT AFFECTS OF LEGALIZING THE DRUG

By Christopher Shuttlesworth

Marijuana advocates are trying to lay the groundwork for Illinois to become the first state in the Midwest and the ninth nationwide to legalize recreational pot, arguing the move will help solve the state’s notorious budget crisis, according to an Associated Press release.

As of right now, marijuana is the mos t commonly used illicit drug, especially for young people throughout in the United States. A 2015 study shows that more than 11 million young adults between the ages of 18-25 used marijuana, according to drug abuse.gov.

Renee M. Johnson, who is an associate professor at

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

in the Department of Mental Health, said this is common because marijuana is pleasurable and less harmful than other drugs on the market like cocaine or heroin due to its easier withdrawal syndrome.

“More than 50 percent of the American public

believes that it should be legalized for recreational

purposes,” Johnson said.

“It’s not common for people to stigmatize it like cocaine or heroin.”

The drug, “marijuana is referred to dried leaves,

flowers, stems and seeds from the hemp plant,

Cannabis sativa. The plant contains the mind altering

chemical delta- 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other related compounds. Extracts can also be made from

the cannabis plant,” according to drug abuse. gov.

While the drug has benefits, especially for

medical patients, Johnson didn’t deny the fact

that marijuana also has negative effects as

well.Regular use of marijuana poses “public

health concerns such as reduced educational

achievements, risks of injuries when driving,

increase respiratory problems, cancer, COPD

and heart disease,” Johnson said.

“What we have found amongst African

Americans is that overall, they are less likely to use [the drug] Johnson said. But among the African Americans who do use, the y are more likely to have problems like addictions or substance abuse-disorders,

she said.

“There are negatives with every drug,” PDI Medical Chief Operation Officer Joseph Friedman said. “One of the less negatives with cannabis is that there has never been any reported overdoses or deaths from cannabis.

Now, people have gotten

high and made wrong choices from cannabis, but cannabis itself has not shut down doors that a number

of medications can do,” he said.

According to an Associated Press release,

two Illinois state lawmakers proposed legislation a few

weeks ago that would allow citizens who are “21 and

older to possess, grow or buy up to an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana and license businesses to sell marijuana products subject to regulation. They say

it would help fill Illinois’ multibillion-dollar budget hole with $350 to $700 million in new tax revenue.

The proposal is being launched at a time when

the federal government is considering ramping up enforcement against recreational use. A s of now,

the Department of Justice and Attorney General Jeff

Sessions are reviewing an administration memo

by Former President Barack Obama, which helped other states obtain flexibility in passing marijuana laws.

“Legalizing or removing penalties will hopefully reduce some of the criminal justice outcomes,” Johnson said. “However, I think it’s among the same story as other drugs. But I think because Blacks have less of a social safety net for resources...substance abuse becomes more risky,” he said.