UpFront Politics: California Politics
How Is Legal Marijuana Affecting California
Many people are wondering how the legalization of Marijuana in California has affected the economy, and how has it affected the young people in that particular state. The truth is with the legalization only taking effect in January the full statistics are not in yet. However, we can elaborate on the things we do know at this point.
Since January 1 of this year, the California economy has experienced a nice little bump. They are estimated to reach approximately 3.7 billion by the end of this year and roughly 5 billion by the end of 2019 in extra revenue according to businessinsider.com. The state of California has added fifteen percent to marijuana sales, and each town or city is free to add their tax rate as well. Medical marijuana use has been legal since 1996 according to ncsl.org. However, they have cultivated hemp for fiber and rope as early as 1795 since recreational use became legal the beginning of this year, naturally legal sales have increased, and now the black market sales have dramatically decreased. People were lined up outside of shops for the moment the shops opened and began sales on January 1st. One of the very first cannabis drug raids took place in a Mexican American neighborhood in California in 1914. Now with black market sales dramatically decreased by about ninety percent, that has been less of a commonplace thing. The economy experienced an immediate bump of fifty to sixty percent, since the legalization.
Marijuana is still federally illegal but has at this point been drastically decriminalized. According to state law adults, age twenty one and over can possess up to one ounce and have up to six plants in their home for personal use. In Colorado, in 2015 the legalization brought forth 18,000 new full-time jobs and generated 2.4 billion dollars in economic activity according to washingtonpost.com. The direct financial impact was about one billion, and the rest was spillover income from other industries. In Colorado tax revenue has pulled in more than three times that of alcohol and by 2020 is expected to pull in more than even cigarettes. The average cost of an eighth of an ounce of marijuana in California is approximately sixty-five dollars, and each city can add whatever taxes they want to that cost. Even with that in place, the price does not vary that much between cities.
The decriminalization of marijuana use has, however, decreased employment problems. There has also been no evidence to state that there has been an increase in workplace injuries, nor is their evidence for increased traffic violations or in accidents fatal or not.
As for an increase in teen usage, well that has varied by the state in California in particular, and in Colorado, there has been no evidence of increased teen usage. However, these states also had medical marijuana in place long before legal recreational use, so the ease of access was already there. Now in Washington where recreational use was also just legalized there has been about a three percent increase. Even though any increase is not a good sign the fact that it is only a mere three percent does not sufficiently support that is due to ease of availability. Synthetic marijuana use has increased though also known as spice, and this particular substitution for the real thing is much, much worse than you could imagine. Spice will cause schizophrenic psychosis, as well as aggression, severe depression, hallucinations, and seizures. So this is a case where the real deal is probably a lot safer. There have been many cases of death, and prolonged psychosis ending up in hospitalizations (long term) due to synthetic marijuana use.
At this point however it seems that teens are largely unaffected, the emphasis has shifted to more education and awareness. Stressing that even though it is legal does not make it good or harmless. Kids today have been more educated about the dangers of prolonged use of any drug including marijuana. An in-depth study done in 2015 has shown that 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in four hundred schools have shown no increase in usage among these age groups according to drugabuse.gov. The National Institute on Drug Abuse did a survey that concluded that most high school kids did not see marijuana as that harmful at least compared to other drugs that are readily available on the black market. Forty-four percent of those surveyed stated that they had smoked marijuana at some point. There has been an overall decline in alcohol consumption for both teens and adults since the legalization of marijuana. There have been reports of those who constantly use Marijuana having a slight decline in IQ and test scores, and even small amounts of impaired mental functions.
With this evidence and just looking at the other states that have legalized marijuana use for recreational purposes, we can see the tremendous increase in local economies and maybe even the possibility of eliminating a good portion if not all of the debt this country and its’ states have accrued over the years. Another frightening trend is that the synthetic drugs and even the non-synthetic drugs teens and adults all have access to at this point are extremely dangerous. If we choose the less of the evils here, then marijuana would be it compared to the others, the antidepressants, the chemo drugs, and the others that seem to show new complications almost on a weekly basis. You can not turn on the tv or look at social media without seeing a new lawsuit against a company for complications from the newer drugs.
The synthetic and I mean the actual synthetic drugs on the market, methamphetamine, spice,flakka, bathtub moonshine, etc. have no regulations on their formulas, and they are equivalent to a game of Russian roulette where the player will inevitably lose. At this moment in time the so-called “war on drugs” has been lost so maybe we should look at another strategy. Let’s look at education, awareness, and decriminalization of the less than other harmful so-called drugs on the market. It has even been argued that marijuana is not a drug but a natural plant that was placed here by the creator for specific purposes, maybe that is also a view we need to examine.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency.
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