Think about two substances. One is responsible for 2,200 deaths per year in America from overdoses. The other is responsible for none.
Now, which one do you think is illegal? If you guessed the one that is responsible for an average of six overdose deaths per day, you would be wrong.
The first one is alcohol, and that statistic is for overdose and alcohol poisoning alone. Alcohol-related deaths account for an average of 88,000 lives annually. What about the one that has never caused an overdose death? That is marijuana, and it is federally illegal.
Not only is it illegal, it is a Schedule I substance. This means it is considered to be as dangerous as drugs such as LSD and heroin.
Recently, it has been brought to light that marijuana is not as bad for you as once previously thought. It is nearly impossible to overdose on it, which cannot be said for any other Schedule I drugs, or even alcohol and prescription medication, which are legal.
It is less harmful to your body than alcohol, cigarettes and basically any other drug. A study showed that it even impairs your driving about seven times less than when under the influence of alcohol.
Not only is it not as harmful as we thought, it is actually helpful to people. Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states, and helps patients with things like anxiety, nausea and chronic pain.
It is not a wonder medicine or a prescription drug, but it had more than positive reviews from users who wanted help with their medical issues. Medicinal purposes are not, however, the only way that cannabis is beneficial.
In recreationally legal states, it produces a formidable amount of money in tax revenue. The first two states to legalize, Washington and Colorado, have exceeded expectations in tax dollars brought in. It is predicted that if the growth of the market continues, the states could produce upwards of $5 billion, and if all states follow suit, an estimated $45 billion could be generated off of marijuana sales alone.
I am not advocating driving while high or smoking weed whenever you get the chance, but it logically makes no sense to keep it illegal, let alone on the same level of strictness as heroin. People who want to utilize it for its benefits, as well as those who just want to partake recreationally, should be able to do so without the risk of legal consequences.
It is less dangerous than already legal substances, can bring a substantial amount of tax revenue and will reduce crime rates. We should learn from other municipalities, states and countries and legalize the sale of marijuana.
Dylan Brister is a sophomore economics major from Gulfport.