Pro Legalization of Marijuana

After years of debate over the substance, New York State lawmakers legalized the use of recreational marijuana on March 30 for adults aged 21 years or older. The choice to legalize marijuana is controversial, due to some of the drug’s long-term health effects, which include impaired thinking, memory, and learning functions. Although excessive use of cannabis can be dangerous, legalizing marijuana allows the drug to be regulated. Additionally, legalizing the drug allows the government to have exact punishable conditions. New York also opens itself up to a booming market, involving New York in a $4.2 billion industry. The legalization of marijuana presents far more benefits than drawbacks.  

The positive financial consequences of legalizing marijuana must not be overlooked. According to the New York Times, millions of dollars generated from taxed marijuana would be invested in minority communities damaged by drug charges. It has also been estimated that the cannabis market could potentially generate $350 million dollars in tax revenue. Junior Adin Weiss commented, “There are business opportunities that can be created through legalizing marijuana. They are necessary in a failing state, like New York, where the population is dropping at an alarming rate.” Junior Michael O’Connor agrees with Weiss. “Legalization will be able to create new jobs for people previously working under the black market,” said O’Connor. “It will also lead to government regulation on cannabis to prevent people from putting any harmful additives or pesticides into their bodies,” added O’Connor.  

Marijuana can be dangerous because it was previously not regulated. With the newly passed legalization laws, however, the drug can be regulated, meaning that users will be able to obtain cannabis through a reliable source, rather than a black-market drug dealer. Senior Lex Burger said, “The risk of getting [marijuana] that is laced or dangerous drops to pretty much zero because everything is going to be run through the government, so it will be a lot safer as well.” The potential for tampered-with marijuana is greatly decreased. Like the Prohibition movement in the 1920s, laws legalizing substances removes the threat of spiked materials in sealed, regulated purchases.  

Legalizing marijuana will also help heal the wounds of mass incarceration, which targets Black and Latinx communities. Individuals of minority communities were being unfairly imprisoned because of possession of marijuana, and legalizing the drug will allow for set guidelines regarding arrest, hopefully minimizing racial bias. A 2020 analysis of New York City  revealed that people of color made up 94 percent of cannabis-related arrests. African American people are also four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana-related charges than white people. Junior Keziah Job said, “New York does not have space in prisons for people who get arrested for the possession of marijuana. It is better for cannabis to be legalized, so people are not put among hard criminals in prison for a small crime.” 

Overall, legalizing marijuana has many positive effects. Now, individuals who choose to indulge in using cannabis are safer because the government has power to regulate its ingredients. Legalizing marijuana also leads to a more just system of crime and punishment, which will no longer target minority groups with low-level charges that result in severe prison sentences. Lastly, the marijuana business is booming, making it a smart financial decision for New York State to become involved in that market.