It's The 2020s: Let's Legalize Weed
All America Needs Is All Around Us
Marijuana has been a controversial topic throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century. It started in 1937 with the Marihuana Tax Act more or less outlawed it in the United States. Since then, states have begun to decriminalize it and even legalize it. Those that support marijuana's legalization cite its medical and regulation benefits. They also state that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol. Opponents say that marijuana hurts society and is a gateway drug to other, more dangerous drugs. In addition, they told Pew Research that they do not want children to get into it.
Marijuana itself contains over 100 chemicals called cannabinoids. Two important ones make marijuana controversial. The first one is called cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD is the component of marijuana that makes it great for medical uses, as its benefits include assistance in treating ailments from insomnia to cancer and everything in between. The other one is called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is the component of marijuana that makes people high. Unsurprisingly, THC is much more regulated than CBD. For example, in some places, THC is only available for specific uses. In contrast, people can find CBD in things ranging from gummies to hand lotion.
Typically, when people discuss medical marijuana in the news, it usually helps someone with epilepsy and seizures. So naturally, those people and their families and caretakers would like to see it legalized. However, further research has found that medical marijuana has been found to help with chronic pain and nausea. It has also been found to help alleviate symptoms associated with HIV, AIDS, and forms of cancer.
Others Are Seeing The Benefits
In the United States, marijuana is considered a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substance Act. For the average person, this means that marijuana "has a high potential for dependency and no accepted medical use," according to the National Conference of State Legislature. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 has made it that way since then. However, weed-related punishments have been softening since the 60s and 70s. (Thanks, hippies!)
Countries around the world are also legalizing cannabis. The three most notable countries outside the US that have taken steps to legalize weed have been Canada, South Africa, and Uruguay, all of which have legalized marijuana medically and for recreational use. (There are also some rumors that recreational weed is legal in North Korea.)
The above chart displays countries around the world that have legalized medical marijuana. It is important to note that Brazil and Germany have only legalized medical marijuana for the sickest of patients. In Ghana and Mexico, there are limits on THC content. Ghana's is 0.3%; Mexico's is 1%. Ireland's medical marijuana program is currently under a pilot program and is not yet available to the general public.
As for the states, marijuana is still illegal, as previously stated. However, individual states have taken the matter into their own hands; thus, marijuana legality varies by state. People seeking medical marijuana in Georgia, Kansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas can get low-THC products. Medical CBD is legal in Iowa, Kentucky, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. THC is entirely illegal in Nebraska. In terms of US territories, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands have legalized medical marijuana. Recreational marijuana is legal in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
As for Mississippi, residents of the magnolia state voted overwhelmingly to legalize medical marijuana in 2020. HOWEVER, in May of 2021, the state's supreme courts struck that down "over a bizarre technicality." As a result, Mississippi lawmakers are trying to figure out ways that medical marijuana can be implemented in the state. After all, that is what Mississippians voted for in 2020.
Politics and Expungement
For those who don't know, the verb expunge is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as "to strike out, obliterate, or mark for deletion." Synonyms of "expunge" include such words as "erase" and "abolish." The possession of small amounts of marijuana is being decriminalized, and marijuana is being legalized for medical as well as recreational purposes. As such, people with a criminal record with a marijuana possession charge are wishing for that to have that off of their record for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:
- Getting licenses (such as a driver's license)
- Owning a gun or firearm
- Regaining the right to vote
Pennsylvania lieutenant governor John Fetterman has been one of the most vocal elected officials when it comes to not only legalizing marijuana but also getting weed-related charges expunged from criminal records. Currently, he is running in the 2022 midterm elections for the Senate seat now held by Senator Pat Toomey, who is not running for re-election. Legalizing marijuana has been one of the central pillars that hold up the house that is his campaign. He has used social media to not only promote the idea of legalizing weed, but it is also becoming more widely accepted throughout the country, or at least in Pennsylvania. His use of social media is on top of selling weed-themed merchandise like shirts and stickers.
Some of Fetterman's weed tweet gems include:
It's worth noting that Kutztown is located in Berks County. According to the New York Times, Trump won that county in 2016, with 52% of the vote to Clinton's 43%. He won it again in 2020 by around the same margin.
He tweeted this when Sha'Carri Richardson was found to have cannabis in her system, which more or less barred her from competing in the Olympics.
The above tweet is part of the same thread as the Sha'Carri Richardson tweet. It's an excellent resource for people in PA to get their weed-related charges off their record - for free, no less!
Marijuana has various risks and benefits. Some people don't think those in power should legalize it, even on a medical level. More and more people are becoming more understanding of marijuana's medical benefits. They are thus more accepting of the idea that those in power should legalize it for medical purposes and recreational purposes. As a result, various countries and US states have legalized it for medical, if not recreational, use. However, the US as a whole still has quite a ways to go, which is why politicians are standing up and taking a stand and saying that marijuana legalization would benefit everybody.