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The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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The Hawkeye June 2024 Issue
1st Amend Award School

Legalizing pot is not the end of the world

America is a confused nation. Like so many cattle milling about a pasture wondering if we should moo or make some other noise that cattle enjoy making, we are a house divided against itself, completely unable to stand. For every supporter of a given cause, there are two opposers. For every issue that is laid to rest, three more spring up. No contemporary problem represents the division of our most wonderful nation more than the legalization of marijuana.

In our state, marijuana is barely legal for medicinal uses only. Since legalization on a federal level is a big no-no, the decision has been left to the individual states. As of right now, the Huffington Post states that California, Colorado, and our own Washington are the closest to the legalization of marijuana. In Washington—especially King County—one can hardly throw a potato without hitting at least a dozen marijuana dispensaries on the way down. The police are incredibly easygoing when it comes to pot, and possession becomes a felony if and only if the person in question has more than 40 grams. With this acceptance of this magnitude on both public and legislative levels, it is only logical that we take the final step to legalize marijuana.

Let us imagine for a moment that pot has finally been made legal in the state of Washington. Contrary to popular belief, there would not be crowds of people stabbing each other whilst furiously puffing on joints and hellish 43-car pileups lining the freeway as the poor victims reached for the bong to take their dying breath of that horrendous substance that caused the whole mess. There would be regulating laws that would restrict marijuana from being used while operating machinery or driving. It would be sold in special dispensaries, very similar to the ones that exist today, to prevent it from being stolen by 12-year-olds at the gas station. The drug would be regulated and sold only to adults of at least 21 years of age and to medical patients who needed a substitute to addictive painkillers.

Also, legalization would end the phenomenon of the “gateway drug.” While many people believe that marijuana leads teens to trying harder drugs such as LSD, cocaine and heroin just as many people think this is absolute bunk. It turns out the latter belief is correct. Essentially, the war on drugs causes kids to do more drugs. Prohibition of marijuana has caused a social stigma surrounding the drug, turning it into some kind of forbidden fruit for the children of America, which in turn causes teenagers to explore different drugs. Why? The excitement, the rebellion or maybe just for kicks? It doesn’t really matter, for legalization of marijuana would dispel the whole thing anyway.

Yes, dangers and health risks. For those of you whose tried-and-true belief is “it’s just weed, brah”—you’re wrong. No drug comes without side effects that could compromise the physical and psychological health of certain people, and pot is no exception. Despite what you’ve heard, one can become mentally dependent on it, with up to 17 percent of frequent teen smokers becoming psychologically addicted. Although the twofold increase in car accidents is measly compared to the fifteen fold increase of alcohol. And no, although the LA Times says among many other sources that long-term marijuana use has not been proved to cause cancer, the smoke can lead to inflammation of the respiratory passages and bronchitis. All of these symptoms increase in severity when the marijuana user in question has not finished physical development (that’s us).

Of course, these health risks seem rather trivial when one considers both the ease with which they can be avoided and the benefits of the drug. In a very large majority of people, marijuana helps alleviate anxiety and stress, and causes calmness and euphoria. It works as a painkiller as well, providing a relatively safe alternative for dangerous opiates such as codeine and Oxycodone. According to the Coed Magazine, it also slows cancerous tumor growth and helps treat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, ADHD, Crohn’s disease, migraines and more. Come now, Washington. We know you like pot. You’ve raised $2 million for the legalization proposition and voting’s one month away. You’ve got an event named Hempfest. Sure, marijuana’s got its downsides, but don’t cigarettes and alcohol, too? Be reasonable, Washington. You’re almost there—legalize it!

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