If one has watched “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?” they might recall a group of youngsters who solved mysteries and fought against evil forces with their big, brown, talking great dane named, Scooby Doo. This show has remained one of the greatest cartoons of all time, but it also became clear that they were all high. Shaggy, one of the main characters and frankly, the entire Mystery Incorporated crew, were stereotypical marijuana users. Only the use of marijuana could explain the uncontrollable desire for food, extreme laziness, shortened attention span and believing a dog could actually engage in conversation. If Mystery Inc. was so highly favored and idolized as heroes of their cartoon world, could the use of marijuana be socially and legally accepted in our reality?
Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. It contains a drug called Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC (thank goodness for abbreviations). This drug is mainly responsible for the mind-altering effects that occur when used. Weed, a common nickname for marijuana, is no longer just inhaled, but comes in many forms such as edibles, extracts, waxes, etc. According to the National Institutes of Health, marijuana usage can affect learning, memory, coordination, and judgment. In addition, it can also be addictive.
Marijuana has been one of the most controversial drugs in the history of the United States. The plethora of opinions on policies regarding marijuana has increased significantly in the past ten years and continues to gain salience in the media every day. To be clear, the use of marijuana is just as taxing as using tobacco products or drinking alcohol. Ten people per minute die from tobacco-related disease. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), almost 88,000 people die every year due to alcohol-related causes. Of all marijuana users, an estimated 9% become addicted and long-term users could have detrimental effects on their overall health.
With that being stated, the once highly criticized and frowned-upon drug is now being used medically and recreationally in the U.S. Although marijuana is federally prohibited, recreational marijuana is legal in nine states and medical marijuana is legal in 29 states. As more states make this drug accessible to their citizens, we should understand the effects legalization of marijuana will have on society relating to DUI and other drug cases.
One argument is that there is an injustice done to those who choose to use marijuana in substitution of the hard, extremely addictive and risky medications prescribed by doctors to treat physical and mental ailments that have contributed greatly to the opioid crisis. It is unfair for productive citizens to be punished for their personal use of marijuana to treat conditions that may otherwise hinder them from performing basic duties that could improve society. The legalization of marijuana would allow those who choose a less addictive and less risky drug and to ultimately avoid criminalization.
A contrasting argument is one to be made by motorist. DUI is no joke. Whether under the influence of alcohol or any other drug that is capable of altering your mind and judgment, like marijuana, one shouldn’t be operating a vehicle. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, marijuana users drive high routinely. But, just as there is a metric system to measure one’s alcohol intoxication, if marijuana is legalized, there should be a system that establishes a basic level of marijuana intoxication. This would help educate the public, set standards and consequences, keep our roads safe, and decrease the likelihood of reckless conditions.
The most important point to establish is that legalization of marijuana would help keep people’s lives intact. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, more people were arrested for marijuana possession than for all crimes the FBI classified as violent in 2016. If charged with a felony relating to marijuana, as for other illegal substances, it can ruin a life. If not for the possessions one had in their back pocket to treat a rare form of epilepsy, one would still have a stable career, family, etc. Criminal offenses can rip even the best lives to shreds and the legalization of the most common and most popular illicit drug would prevent good people from making a life-altering decision.
Although the Mystery Incorporated crew is a group of cartoons and it’s just a theory of mine that they were indeed under the influence of marijuana, it is true that they were capable of solving mysteries and making the world a better place. That could be true for our nation. Just as we have the opportunity to choose whether we smoke, drink, gamble, etc, the legalization of marijuana will allow the people to have the choice to possess and consume marijuana responsibly and still contribute to society greatly.
This article was written by Sydney Johnson, one of Reid Law's 2018 summer interns. Sydney is a senior at Auburn University where she is majoring in Public Administration and minoring in Business.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user orionpozo