Many proponents remain unsatisfied. Many opponents continue to fight to preserve the laws in the remaining states, or even reverse the laws that have allowed marijuana to become legal (or nearly legal). At present under federal law, marijuana possession, usage, and sale is still illegal. However, the federal government has allowed provisions for the states to pass or enact their own laws for both medical and recreational use.
So, where do you stand? Are you in favor of the legalization and/or decriminalization? Do you think it is acceptable only in the cases of medical need? Or are you opposed to marijuana being readily available in all instances and situations? We spoke to a variety of people, with a variety of opinions, stories, and positions on the subject. Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions. Remember you can alway comment anonymously. Check back every day for more and be sure to join this important conversation!
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF MARIJUANA BEING LEGALIZED?
"Marijuana is everywhere now. I think the biggest concern is that it will be a gateway drug. But I feel like if marijuana is easier to come by, most people will just stick to that rather than try to take the extra risk of trying harder, illegal drugs. I think the main fear people have with marijuana is getting caught with it. Tobacco is legal, which you could argue is worse for you. With alcohol you hear about drunk driving, you hear about people getting drunk and getting in bar fights, you never hear about that stuff with marijuana."
WHEN I WAS A KID NOT MANY PEOPLE EVER TALKED ABOUT LEGALIZING POT. NOW IT'S A HUGE ISSUE. DO YOU THINK THAT PEOPLE YOUR AGE VIEW POT AS SOMETHING THAT IS LESS DANGEROUS, LES ADDICTIVE THAN WE WERE TAUGHT IT WAS WHEN I WAS YOUNGER?
"Oh definitely. I mean pot has become more powerful. The levels of THC in the drug have gone up. There's more potent stuff. But it's not really seen as something "addictive". Not like tobacco or whatever. You don't think you're going to have a dependence on it. People just look at it as something fun, something you might do from time to time without the risk of getting addicted. And if it's legal, that's just one less thing you'll be worried about."
WHAT DO THEY TEACH YOU IN SCHOOL ABOUT MARIJUANA?
"Honestly, they don't talk much about marijuana as a singularity. We used to talk mostly about 'drugs', as a whole. They'd classify them as stimulants or depressants or whatever, but we don't really learn much about it alone. There's a big pot presence in high schools already. Maybe they think if they just ignore it it will go away."
WE USED TO HAVE TO WATCH ALL THESE ANTI-DRUG VIDEOS THAT REALLY DEMONIZED DRUG USE, PARTICULARLY MARIJUANA. HAVE YOU SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS?
"In middle school we had a whole program where it started out where we learned about what would happen to you if you did this, or this or this. Marijuana was like the starting point. If you do that, then you might do this. You might try cocaine, or meth, or heroin, and how it all falls out from there."
WAS THAT THE D.A.R.E PROGRAM?
"That was the D.A.R.E. program, yes."
I REALIZE YOU WERE MUCH YOUNGER BUT WHEN YOU COMPLETED THE PROGRAM, DID YOU FEEL A SENSE OF FEAR ABOUT WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN TO YOU IF TRIED ANY DRUGS?
"I didn't really feel a sense of fear. But as far as marijuana goes, some things didn't add up. I mean, just from knowing people who had smoked pot I knew that just by smoking pot one time, you're not going to die, you're not going to become addicted to drugs."
THAT GOES ALONG WITH WHAT YOU HAD SAID EARLIER ABOUT ONE FEAR OF LEGALIZING BEING THAT POT IS A GATEWAY DRUG. DO YOU THINK OF MARIJUANA AS A GATEWAY DRUG?
"That's a big issue with marijuana. I really think on its own it is relatively harmless. I don't think it really does too much negatively health wise. But the fear is that if people do one thing, they want more of that thing, and then they are going to want something else, something more, and then another and another."
SO DO YOU THINK THE GATEWAY DRUG ISSUE IS MORE ABOUT THE PHYSICAL ADDICTION TO MARIJUANA OR THE SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS- IF YOU'RE OUT SMOKING POT, YOU'RE MORE LIKELY TO BE IN SITUATIONS WHERE YOU MAY MOVE ON TO TRYING OTHER THINGS TOO?
"Yeah because if say someone offers you heroin or another hard drug right off the bat you're not going to do it because you know how harmful it is. I mean most people won't. But if you start off smoking pot, I can see how smoking pot might ease that transition a little bit. I mean even then it's still a huge jump to some hard chemically synthesized drugs from something that basically grows right out of the ground."
(REALIZING THAT YOU WOULD STILL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL YOU WERE 21 TO SMOKE LEGALLY) DO YOU THINK THAT IF IT WERE COMPLETELY LEGAL IT WOULD MAKE YOU, OR SAY YOUR FRIENDS OR YOUR PEERS MORE LIKELY TO TRY IT OR USE IT?
"Oh definitely. I mean, I don't want to say because there are no repercussions, but it's definitely less fear there. I mean there's still the standpoint that it is a drug, and so it can still be harmful for you, but if it is legal, yeah, in my opinion it will definitely make people more open to it."
SO WOULD YOU SAY IN YOUR OPINION IT IS MORE THE FEAR OF LEGAL OR PARENTAL REPRECUSSIONS THAT KEEP YOUNG PEOPLE FROM DOING IT RATHER THAN THE FEAR OF WHAT THE DRUG MIGHT ACTUALLY DO TO YOU?
"Oh, yeah. By far yeah."
GIVEN THAT YOU ARE STILL LIVING AT HOME, DO YOU THINK IF IT WERE LEGAL YOUR PARENTS WOULD STILL HAVE A BIG ISSUE WITH YOU USING IT?
"Definitely. Because, as I said before, it is still drugs. I mean you're inhaling some kind of toxins into your body if nothing else. And I think it can be seen as leading to laziness. And since this is such a critical point in my life, I think it could be seen as a 'motivational hazard'."
AS SOMEONE WHO WILL SOON BE VOTING FOR THE FIRST TIME, WOULD A CANDIDATE THAT WAS PRO-LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA HAVE ANY KIND OF ADVANTAGE IN GARNERING YOUR VOTE?
"Probably. I think most people would like to avoid having any possible run-ins with the police if possible. And should anyone be caught for this, it could later come back to haunt you. And for what? I wouldn't want to feel the wrath of the police for that. I just think that (by legalizing) eliminating the risk of being caught and getting in trouble for something like that would be beneficial for all of us."