Reefer Madness

Nick Feldman, Cactus Writer

Marijuana can be an incendiary topic for some (no pun intended), although many people are starting to rapidly change their opinions on its use. Marijuana is federally illegal; however, Arizona is one of 29 states (30, if you count DC) that have legalized cannabis use for medical purposes. It’s hard to argue with the statistics of what the plant and its two active metabolites (THC and CBD) can do. They can help with the symptoms of a wide range of physical, physiological, and psychological diseases and disorders. Thus, it’s safe to say that cannabis is now officially recognized as a natural medical miracle by many, or at the very least, viewed as medically valuable by the majority of Americans. That being said, the current topic is now whether or not pot should be made legal for recreational purposes.

I recently visited Washington, my home state, for the first time since 2012. I left Seattle for Phoenix right around the time cannabis was made legal for recreational purposes on a state level. It’s awe-inspiring how much the legalization of a plant can change the economic and cultural landscape. Just riding from the airport to a friend’s house, I saw billboards and many recreational marijuana shops (or “rec shops,” for short). My home state had changed, and from my perspective, for the better. Legalizing marijuana, according to many of my friends and family, has brought in insane amounts of revenue for the state, decreased crime by taking it off the black market and out of cartels’ hands, and made it freely available to those who need it, or simply just want it.

I took it upon myself to visit one of the rec shops in Issaquah, WA. It was a surreal experience, walking in to a shop where a once illegal substance was now freely available to anyone over 21. You could literally smell the freedom from outside the building. As I walked in, I saw nothing but “normal” people, both the customers and the employees. Sure, some of them looked like hippies a little bit, but overall, these were average people shopping for pot (soccer moms included). You are immediately greeted by friendly faces that stand over glass cases FULL of marijuana. Shelf, after shelf, of high grade cannabis. This is not to mention all the edibles (THC infused food) that were hanging from the shelf. The building smelled like one giant marijuana plant. And these buildings are everywhere.

Overall, the decision to make recreational marijuana legal has now come down to voters in every state. Last year, the voters in Arizona knew it as Proposition 205, where marijuana failed to be legalized recreationally by a very slim margin (according to the New York Times, 47.8% voted yes and 51.3% voted no). It is important to keep in mind that Arizona and many of the other states that have already legalized marijuana medically (in my opinion, the first step toward legalizing it recreationally) are “red” states, states where the majority of voters are conservative. It’s crazy to me that a once taboo subject has now become accepted by so many people. Even those from generations that saw cannabis as an evil substance are now coming around to see the truth about pot (especially compared to alcohol and tobacco) and its potential to help a great many people.

I believe that whether or not everyone agrees on its recreational status, it will, one day (in the very near future), become legal not only in Arizona, but country-wide, and even eventually on a federal basis.

What do the readers of The Cactus have to say about this subject? Should recreational marijuana be legalized in Arizona? Let us know what you think by sending an e-mail to [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you!