Sharp: Mississippians deserve marijuana legalization


United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The debate over marijuana legalization in Mississippi continues despite citizens efforts to pass a bill.

Chloe Sharp, Opinion Editor

The legalization of marijuana is a topic that continues to be heavily debated in this country. Whether you call it weed, pot or the Devil’s lettuce, the debate over marijuana has been a long and frustrating one, especially for Mississippians. 

Last November, 70% of Mississippi voters voted for an amendment to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. However, the Supreme Court of Mississippi shot it down in May due to a technicality. Earlier this week, legislators agreed to draft a new bill for medical marijuana legalization.

Legalizing medicinal marijuana in Mississippi is a huge step for this state. Marijuana has several health benefits, such as reducing anxiety, reducing inflammation, relieving pain, controlling chemotherapy-induced nausea, killing cancer cells and slowing tumor growth. Keeping marijuana illegal, especially for medical purposes, severely impacts people with these health issues because it is illegal for them to obtain the relief they need.

Though legalizing medicinal marijuana is a step in the right direction, Mississippi’s policy on marijuana usage will continue to be an injustice to the state’s citizens until marijuana is completely legalized within the state.

It is no secret that despite its criminal status, marijuana use is extremely prevalent throughout the state. In 2017, nearly 170,000 Mississippians reported to have used marijuana that year. However, its criminal status has dangerous effects on users.

I believe the strongest argument for legalizing marijuana is government regulation. Since marijuana is illegal in the state, the nearly 170,000 users within the state have to buy it from dealers. Because these dealers aren’t regulated by the government, many lace the marijuana they sell with substances, such as methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, heroin and even glass, as well as several other substances to make the drug weigh more or create stronger highs. However, if lawmakers were to legalize marijuana, they could create strict regulations for it and keep everyone who uses it safe and aware of what they are putting into their bodies.

Legalizing marijuana would also strengthen the Mississippi economy, stimulating new jobs and investment opportunities for Mississippi residents. Furthermore, if marijuana was legal, the Mississippi government could impose high taxes on it, as is done for similar products, such as alcohol and cigarettes, further strengthening the state economy.

If products like alcohol, cigarettes and vapes are legal, what makes marijuana any worse? The government shouldn’t be able to cherry pick the vices the citizens of our state are allowed to indulge in based on the current political climate, there is too much at stake. The health and wellbeing of Mississippians should not have to suffer on the account of Mississippi lawmakers’ attempts to keep marijuana illegal.