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Decriminalization good. Legalization better.

Cannabis should not destroy a youth’s future

By Tahsin Khan

Senior Staff Writer

 Full legalization is the necessary step to stop the detrimental, judicial consequences of being caught with marijuana. Criminal records are still possible with possession of marijuana, and such charges can ruin an individual’s potential in life.

For UMBC’s pot-smoking portion of the 21 and up population, the decriminalization of marijuana in Maryland came as joyous one-step-closer to legalization. Maryland made the correct and progressive move, but advocates should not let down the pressure until full legalization is attained.

First-time offenders will face fines up to $100, while a second offense will be punishable with a fine up to $250 and subsequent offenses up to $500. Additionally, the bill requires third-time offenders or offenders under the age of 21 to be evaluated for substance abuse problems, and to attend drug education classes.

These policies went into effect throughout Maryland on October 1st. As per almost any policy implemented by the government, there was celebration and defeat on both sides of the political spectrum.

College students can be bright people, and they can make stupid decisions. A criminal record shouldn’t be tacked onto a student who made a mistake.

This law gives people the opportunity to right their wrongs and get back on a straight path. It shows the growing sense of humanity and mercy within society. Furthermore, giving an individual a second chance instead of throwing them in a jail cell saves taxpayers’ money.

However, there is still a portion of youth who end up in jail over marijuana charges. With such a conviction, these youth have their lives destroyed extensively. Upon release from jail, with no job opportunities readily open, they tend to go further down the criminal path.

Marijuana needs to be legalized and it should be taxed. “… By decriminalizing marijuana, we have only done half of the things we need to do … by legalizing it, we kind of go the whole way and eliminate any unnecessary charges on people who get caught with such a simple and not harmful substance,” states Rohan Dalwadi, a sophomore majoring in biology.

Unfortunately, the federal government does not label cannabis as a “simple and not harmful substance”, classifying it as a Schedule 1 drug, “meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

But from a scientific standpoint, marijuana is not all that bad. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, “low levels of marijuana use … produced no detrimental effect in lung function among study participants.  In fact, exposure led to a mild, but not clinically significant, beneficial effect — albeit among those who smoked only one joint per day.”

Additionally, a percentage of the marijuana revenue should go towards helping those with criminal records due to weed get back on their own two feet. Educational support should provide information on how to control drug use and what life-changing opportunities are available.

Individuals should not be penalized for the decisions they make, as long as it does not harm others. Were marijuana to become fully legalized, our youth, too, would no longer have to suffer unjust legal consequences of smoking pot.