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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Marijuana should be federally legalized

Aidan Renteria
A personified marijuana leaf shakes hands with a personified federal building. Marijuana is legal in some states but not at a federal level. (Aidan Renteria | Northern Star)

The smell of marijuana lingers in the air, and dispensaries scatter the state of Illinois. Smoking marijuana should be legalized at a federal level.

Marijuana, weed, cannabis, pot, the devil’s lettuce, whatever individuals call it, it’s popular. Although it may not seem like a lot, 12% of American adults smoked marijuana in 2021, according to the Center for Advancing Health. Marijuana is legal in some states, including Illinois.

There are numerous dispensaries all across the United States. Oklahoma alone had 2,308 dispensaries as of 2021, according to Statista. Marijuana should become federally legal to allow dispensary owners and smoke shops to promote their business.

Citizens should be able to smoke marijuana without breaking federal law.

Although some users smoke marijuana regardless of its legality, others may not want to break federal law. Individuals should have the freedom to smoke marijuana whenever they please.

Medical marijuana can have many health benefits including relieving chronic pain and potentially helping those with multiple sclerosis, according to the National Library of Medicine

Occasionally, doctors also recommend weed for pain relief, according to the Journal of Medical Ethics. These benefits explain why marijuana should be legalized and accessible to everyone. 

Erin Carter, a senior communication and digital marketing major, who has a medical marijuana card, mentioned one benefit for medical marijuana users.

“A benefit could be that it could be flown from state to state without penalty for medical users,” Carter said.

In a world filled with stressors, people should take a step back and chill out. Marijuana may not fix all of life’s challenges, but it’s OK for the public to indulge in weed.

Dylan Larson, a budtender at Excelleaf dispensary in DeKalb, said the federal legalization of marijuana could create new opportunities for testing the effects of marijuana.

“It would become a crop that you could basically grow at anywhere, anytime, anybody could do that,” Larson said. 

Additionally, if marijuana did become federally legal, then individuals who are arrested for marijuana possession, use or manufacturing should have the opportunity for expungement.

Users of marijuana that are in the prison system could be facing horrid conditions. There is also a clear racial disparity with Black people being 3.6 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession, according to the American Civil Liberties Union

Each year, roughly 32,357 individuals are arrested for selling and manufacturing marijuana; 317,793 users are arrested for possession, according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics.

People who have been arrested for marijuana usage should have their record completely wiped clean if marijuana were to be legalized federally.

Economic benefits must also be considered when federally legalizing marijuana. Marijuana sales would increase, increasing revenue for dispensaries and smoke shops. In 2021, the U.S. legal sales of marijuana were $17.5 billion, according to Forbes. If marijuana sales hit an all-time high in 2021 for just legal states, federal sales could skyrocket the revenue.

Everyone should be able to legally engage in recreational and medicinal marijuana.

Marijuana should be federally legal for the well-being of stoners and potheads alike.

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