Legal Marijuana Gaining Steam

Medical marijuana has become more normalized and accepted throughout America as time goes by: What once was imprisoning people for life is now being used to treat illnesses, both physically and mentally. And now 11 states, including California and Colorado, have even expanded their marijuana laws, allowing for recreational sale and use for adults over the age of 21. With voting season having just passed us, it’s fitting that we get students opinions on the possibility of legal recreational marijuana within New York State.

First I would like to state that I am from Maine, a state which has recently legalized recreational marijuana. Anyone over the age of 21 is able to now go to a dispensary and purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. From my observation, the easy access to the herb has brought only positive changes to Maine. The increase in sales helps the local economy, people are using it to assist in opioid addiction rehabilitation, and are less likely to consume alcohol: According to Forbes, states that legalize marijuana typically see a 15% decrease in alcohol sales.

As stereotypes surrounding marijuana change, there is the potential for similar laws regarding legality to travel across the country, and perhaps to New York. The state actually put out a statement regarding the topic: “In January, in Governor Cuomo’s FY 2019 Executive Budget address, he directed the Department of Health to conduct a study in consultation with other state agencies to review, including but not limited to, the health, criminal justice and economic impacts of a regulated marijuana program in the state of New York, including the implications for the state of New York resulting from marijuana legalization in surrounding states.” This shows how close New York is to progressing in the same direction as Maine. I reached out to New York Tech students to gather their insight on the possibility of recreational marijuana being legalized.

When I contacted students, I was overwhelmed by their positive responses and thoughts about the law: Student A said, “Legalizing marijuana has the potential to benefit thousands of people - it’s literally less harmful than alcohol. It wouldn’t be right, however, if those incarcerated for petty weed crimes are not then immediately acquitted; this must go hand in hand with legalization of weed.” Student B had similar views, stating, “I believe that marijuana should be legalized for recreational use because it can be extremely beneficial in reducing the use of more deadly drugs such as opioids and other abused substances. With recreational use available, many cities have seen a decline in overdose and crime rates. Furthermore, smoking an excess of marijuana cannot lead to death which is in my opinion better than even alcohol.” Student C’s opinions continued down a similar path, with them saying, “I think the benefits of legalizing marijuana will allow for more people with physical medical and mental needs to have access to it. Legalizing it would also allow for the negative stigma of using marijuana to decrease. Now would be a great time to educate people on the benefits of it. Hopefully even opening more opportunities in jobs given it will be in more demand.”

Marijuana is a very multipurpose herb, and I agree with my peers that when used recreationally it’s basically the equivalent of having a drink. Legalizing marijuana would not only change social standards and situations within the United States, but could also change the lives of those who have criminal records due to marijuana. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, “marijuana arrests now account for over half of all drug arrests in the United States.” This statistic is horrible, and is made even worse by the fact that 27% of people arrested for drug violations are African American, even though they only make up 13.4% of the countries population.

As opinions on marijuana advance in a positive light, past marijuana-related convictions must be expunged. I look forward to seeing what my generation does to open our country up to the possibilities that legalized marijuana brings, and am encouraged by the responses fellow students have given on the subject.

*New York Institute of Technology is a Dry Campus:

  1. Federal, state, and local laws pertaining to the possession, distribution, use, sale, and supply of illegal drugs, narcotics, and other controlled substances apply on all NYIT owned or leased property, including all residence halls. Violation of any of those laws (suspected or convicted) constitutes a violation of this NYIT policy.

  2. The possession of any type of drug paraphernalia is prohibited on any NYIT owned or leased property, including all residence halls.

  3. The 2014 Compassionate Care Act of New York State permits the use of medical marijuana for individuals who receive medical marijuana cards. However, marijuana continues to be classified a Schedule I substance under the Federal Controlled Substances Act and the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989 (Public Law 101-226). Therefore, the possession, use, cultivation, or distribution of marijuana is prohibited on any NYIT owned or leased property, including residence halls, as well as at any NYIT event on or off campus.

*Marijuana use and sale is illegal in New York State

*You must be approved by your health provider to get a medical marijuana card. Read requirements here.


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