WRITTEN BY: LIBBY GRACE
COVER PHOTO COURTESY: WIX
The state of Michigan had nine state proposals that were voted upon this year, however one of them seems to be the most controversial: the regulation of marijuana on the same terms as alcohol. Although the topic is controversial, there are various outlooks on what the legalization of marijuana will do for Michigan.
“I’m conflicted, I understand its use for medicinal purposes but I’m also concerned about younger individuals getting their hands on it,” English teacher Kevin Barkholz said.
In the U.S., nine states have legalized recreational use of cannabis. Those states include: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Every one of these states has vastly grown economically due to the cannabis industry increasing. According to Tim Morris, a columnist for NOLA, in California alone, the marijuana market is expected to be worth $22 billion in 2020, compared to $6.7 billion in 2016, which was already up by 30 percent from previous years.
“Sometimes political officials typically shift or allocate some funds left to right, so we might advertise marijuana sales, 35 percent of it going into one place, but that always changed with whoever's in the governor's office,” Barkholz said.
The legalization in Michigan will consist of all of the same benefits that other states have experienced since their full legalization of marijuana. In Michigan, marijuana will be taxed at 10 percent along with the state’s 6 percent sales tax. The revenues from the marijuana industry will be split up between, K-12 education (35 percent), roads (35 percent), communities that allow marijuana businesses (15 percent), and communities where marijuana businesses are located (15 percent).
“That can be interpreted as a ploy to get people to vote for it because of the benefit that education would get,” math teacher Samuel Ulstad said. “So I think that can put people in a moral dilemma that maybe they're thinking they aren’t in favor for it but I’m going to vote for it because of the benefit it gives education.”
Although the legalization of marijuana is favored by 60 percent to pass, according to the Detroit Free Press; the other 40 percent has arguments as to why cannabis should not be legalized. In Colorado, the youth usage of cannabis is at a rate of 85 percent higher than the national average, according to Robert Troyer, a district attorney of Colorado. Brain development is not complete until the age of 25, so the use of marijuana in people at a young age can disrupt the process of brain development.
“When it becomes legal it won’t be as bad as it is now, because it will put dealers out of business and kids under the age of 21 can’t buy from a store,” junior Kerik Sharp said.
With the cannabis industry growing in the U.S., more concerns and benefits arise in society. Although marijuana has various pros and cons, it is likely to pass in the state of Michigan along with many other states. Marijuana is still in need of more research, but some wonder if the alcohol-like regulations are enough when we already have enough problems with controlling alcohol consumption within teens and adults.