Recent legalization of recreational marijuana: to light up or keep out?

Photo credit Mason Sklut.

Marijuana was recently legalized in Washington and Colorado. (Picture is of cigarette smoke, not marijuana smoke). Photo credit Mason Sklut.

By Stephanie Butzer

During the election on Nov. 6, 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington were able to vote for the legalization of recreational marijuana. Now, people 21 and over will be able to buy the drug at local stores in these states. While these states were the first to legalize the drug for recreational use, 17 other states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.

Since the election, thousands of follow-up questions have popped up. A CBS poll showed that exactly 47 percent of Americans support marijuana for recreational use. Ironically, 47 percent say they do not support the drug for recreational use. With the population split, many are asking for answers.

The Elon University community responded in different ways. Most are interested to see what will happen in the future and how authorities will regulate marijuana.

“There’s pros and cons, honestly,” Emily Bishop, junior, said. “Pros because it would get rid of the drug wars in Mexico. Cons because we don’t really know what kind of side effects there will be. I don’t know how they’re going to test that – people being under the influence.”

Robins Riggins, coordinator in the office of admissions, said she is still skeptical about its use. She said she is afraid it will be used for irresponsible activities and could lead to a larger and stronger drug use problem.

Michaelle Graybeal, the owner of the All That JAS store on North Williamson Avenue said she is afraid it will lead to drug addictions that will stir other problems for the nation.

Elon junior Tierney Guido had no comment on recreational use but said she believes medical marijuana can be a positive thing.

“I like that it can be used for medical purposes so maybe it will be easier for those people,” Tierney said.

Laran Gregory, senior, said he believes the legalization of marijuana will have positive outcomes. During his first year at Elon, he wrote a paper for an economics class on how marijuana would impact the economy if it was legalized for recreational use. Based on his research, he discovered the sales of marijuana would bring $14 billion into the nation’s economy if it was taxed the same way as tobacco and alcohol.

“I think it would help our economy and with North Carolina being a big tobacco distributor, I think it’d be easy to just cultivate the fields into growing the cannabis plant,” Gregory said.

Gregory said that even though the drug is legalized in Washington and Colorado, he does not believe every single person will start using it. He said he thinks people will stick to their morals and do what they think is right.


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