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Should recreational marijuana be legalized in West Virginia?

by Loren Hays

West Virginia, one of the poorest states in America, has had an ongoing controversy against the legalization of recreational marijuana. There have been studies that show states with the legalization of recreational marijuana have a decrease in overdose related deaths. This year alone, West Virginia officials had to spend almost 1 million dollars on the transportation of corpses from overdoses; money we could be using to help the budget crisis in this struggling state. In 2017, medical marijuana became legal in West Virginia but they were still against the idea of recreational marijuana use, but why?

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, including West Virginia, considers marijuana a schedule 1 drug, meaning a category of drugs not considered legitimate for medical use. Some of the drugs in this category are mescaline, heroine and then marijuana. The Legalization of Marijuana says that the root of marijuana laws in the United States began in 1947 with the Marijuana Tax Act. The act required sellers to obtain a license. The law passed, and sellers still refused to get the license making this a tax violation and lead officials to ban the drug altogether. Many employers don’t want their employees using the drug while working, which is why many establishments enforce drug tests before and during the employment period.

This happened in 1947, drug problems have escalated since then, and money has always been a problem in West Virginia. Look at some of the states that have the legalization recreational marijuana. Market Watch says in 2017, Colorado pulled in nearly $200 million in tax revenue thanks to its $1.3 billion in marijuana revenue. Reporter Trey Williams said, “Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, along with Washington state, and this was its third year of regulated sales. In its first year revenue hit $699.2 million, followed by $996.2 million the second year.” Since then, the  legalization of recreational marijuana has made the state of Colorado a more diverse atmosphere, while also creating more money and employment opportunities for the people, something West Virginia needs to do.

When medical marijuana became legal in West Virginia, patients were given restrictions on the form of marijuana they were able to use. These restrictions were put in place to help stop the redistribution of the actual marijuana plant.  Patients are allowed to use topicals, pills, and edibles but no type of any smokable marijuana. So, if West Virginia considers marijuana a schedule 1 drug, and it’s been medically legalized, why not go ahead and legalize it recreationally when it can obviously help our states opioid epidemic and brings money and business to the state. Not only that, but marijuana is known to be a pain reducer for the ill and has many health benefits as we all know. If it didn’t have any good qualities, this controversy wouldn’t be happening.   

Banning drugs doesn’t stop people from using them. Putting restrictions on drugs doesn’t stop people from redistributing them. This is factual; we know this because of the rampant drug problems we still continually deal with in many states in the U.S. This is why recreational marijuana should be legal. The establishments that don’t want their employees using the drug can keep their regulations but for everyone in America and West Virginia, this is considered a loss of freedom due to other people’s moral and spiritual beliefs. This would also help the states opioid epidemic, bringing more money to communities, and making the state a better place. This is why recreational marijuana should be legal in the state of West Virginia.

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