By ANTHONY GUENZA
PETALUMA HIGH SCHOOL, 18

Marijuana. Pot. Weed. Mary Jane. I’m sure everyone around is just as aware of at least a dozen other nicknames for this illicit little vice that has rooted itself in our society for the past few decades. Upon looking at the present laws, a logical, educated citizen would have trouble rationalizing the current ban on possession of this substance.
California has made great strides from the days when government-sponsored propaganda told the youth of our nation that the day they took a drag of a reefer would be their last. We now allow marijuana to be cultivated and distributed to those in medical need.
In November, a larger leap is being taken. On the ballot will be a measure to legalize marijuana for sale for the purpose of recreational use to adults over age 21. There are not any good reasons why this would not be passed, as it would benefit almost all tiers of society.
Our state is, inarguably, in a bit of a financial meltdown. We have a huge deficit, but despite that, the Governator is giving away money we don’t have to kick start the economy. Although built on good intentions, any financial return is years and years away. This is how the bill is being marketed: as direct, taxable income to the state. Statistically, marijuana is the No. 1 cash crop in the U.S., but California never has been able to take advantage of it.
Another reason to legalize it is to control it. Now, this may sound like it’s coming from the wrong side, but think of the children. Right now, if a 15-year-old kid were to go looking for it, he would have a much easier time coming across marijuana than, say, alcohol. While dealers are quick to come around and offer services they know are illegal, one must convince a generally law-abiding adult to break the law for alcohol. Plus, legalization would allow for the effects of marijuana to be more widely known and information available substantially less biased. As a result, as young adults mature, they will be able to make a more informed decision regarding the drug. Recreational drug use is arguably a “victimless crime,” a crime that harms no one but he who indulges, and can be born from ignorance.
Even now, however, marijuana is available on the streets. Shady dealers are engaged in worrisome exchanges, stereotypically with an element of danger. Legalization and regulation would do away with the underground market, and make obtaining the product much safer. Crime would go down, and we’d save even more money not prosecuting those currently considered criminals.
Scary stories also often are exchanged about the impurity of the drug as well. In the news, albeit almost a year ago, there was a story about someone who grew marijuana and sprayed it with tiny glass beads to increase the weight and thus drive up the price. When smoked, however, it caused relatively serious health concerns. This would not happen if it is controlled and regulated.
There are not many good arguments against legalizing this drug. The most prevalent is probably the fact that it’s a gateway drug. This, I personally find entertaining. The least harmful aspect of any potentially controversial vice is considered a gateway. Wine and beer are a gateway to hard liquor. Getting an Xbox is the gateway to spending every waking moment of your life playing it. Although marijuana may represent a gateway, by age 21, you should be informed enough, and know yourself well enough to know what to do once you come to it.
Another argument is that it is a Schedule 1 controlled substance and that legalizing it will lead to many more poor decisions in the future. This is something I personally find very funny. Marijuana should in no way, shape or form be considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance. To be here, it has to have “a high potential for abuse. . . . The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. . .. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision” (U.S. Code, Title 21, Chapter 13, Subchapter I, Part B). It is classified as having a similar risk level as heroin.
When looking at all of this, it is hard to imagine why marijuana is illegal at all. Righting this wrong will do nothing but benefit society.