Keep recreational marijuana illegal

Recently in Charleston there has been a movement advocating for the legalization of recreational marijuana. I find this idea to be absurd and disappointing. It is old news that marijuana is addictive. Dr. Sharon Levy of Boston’s Adolescent Abuse Program says that one out of 16 marijuana users will become addicted. Still, it is understandable that certain groups or individuals will rush to the defense of marijuana. Big money is at stake. But we must ask ourselves, does the social cost outweigh the potential revenue? I certainly believe so!

Dr. Jodi Gilman of the Harvard Medical School says that one of the crucial long-term risks of marijuana use is the impairment of cognitive abilities, like memory. Teenagers who are frequent users are less likely to hold full-time employment, get married or finish their education. A study by the University of Connecticut found that young adults are three times as likely to drive under the influence of marijuana since its legalization in Colorado.

Proponents of legalization may joke, “Wouldn’t you prefer a mellowed driver over a stressed one?” I feel this is no laughing matter. Drivers should be alert, and the driver’s seat is no place to be “mellowed” by an illicit substance that, as aforementioned, destroys the brain’s cognitive abilities. Furthermore, a study by Tel Aviv University in Israel has also shown that marijuana can draw out symptoms of schizophrenia:

“Our research demonstrates that cannabis has a differential risk on susceptible versus non-susceptible individuals. In other words, young people with a genetic susceptibility to schizophrenia — those who have psychiatric disorders in their families — should bear in mind that they’re playing with fire if they smoke pot during adolescence,” says Dr. Barzilay.

If you really want to get perspective on what recreational legalization of the drug would do to our state, look at Denver, Colo. The city is overwhelmed by homelessness and increased gang violence. Does a city like Huntington really need more homelessness or drug-related violence? Huntington, the city with the worst drug epidemic in the country. Huntington, the city with one of the highest violent crime rates in the country. By now it should be common sense: Where drugs are, violence and other severe crime will follow.

These thing noted, I am also concerned with the central location of West Virginia and what possible legalization could mean for our state. If we legalize marijuana, drug users from surrounding states like Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland will almost certainly flood our state, rendering our home a haven for undesirables.

We should also consider the effects legalization could have upon our interstate relations. If surrounding states maintain federal law and keep the substance ban, drug users will simply purchase the drug in our state and smuggle the drug back into their own. If we wish to preserve our honor and uphold our claims to revere law enforcement officials (who I might add are opposed to legalization), we cannot allow this drug to flow freely into the jurisdiction of other states. It is irresponsible and a slap in the face to our neighbors.

Although I could go on for quite some time about the ignorance of the recreational legalization movement, I am limited of space. Briefly, I will say this: If we allow this drug to enter our state, it will awaken a sleeping giant of vagrancy, laziness and the moral destruction of our home. Needless to say, I am against the measure and will continue to be an outspoken opponent of the movement.

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