The Prism: Every Side of the Story

Legalization of Marijuana: Is NY Next?

Within the most frequently used drugs in America,  marijuana falls at number three, behind alcohol and tobacco. It is a relatively safe drug according to NORML (National Association for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) compared to cocaine and methamphetamine, which are highly addictive drugs and easy to overdose on.  Around 64% of Americans in fact, are in favor of the legalization of marijuana. In 2018, 10 states including our capital, passed bills to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults over 21, while 33 states have legalized marijuana but only for medicinal purposes.

Although medicinal marijuana is legal in more states than it is not, the practice of it for recreational purposes is quite different. Studies show that using marijuana for medical purposes can lead to pain relief for nerve damage, stopping nausea, movement disorders, HIV/AIDS and dementia. Out of the 33 states that have legalized medicinal use of marijuana, each individual state has their own specific sub-laws regarding its legalization.

In New York, only medical marijuana is legal, and it is illegal for cannabis plants to be grown in homes. In Rhode Island, however, residents are allowed to grow 24 mature cannabis plants and 24 saplings. Patients are allowed to have a 30 day supply in New York, but in Rhode Island, patients are permitted to have two and a half ounces of cannabis on their person. Organizations that are registered under New York State, of which there are 10, are allowed to sell non-smokable forms of the plant that can come lotion, patches, ointment, and lozenges.

Just like each state has their own laws and legalities regarding marijuana usage,  they also have different penalties. In New York, if it is your first offense, having anywhere up to 25 grams, is a fine of one hundred dollars but doesn’t result in any jail time. Growing marijuana, however, in any amount is a felony charge and the minimum time sentence is 15 years. Selling to a minor is a class D felony and can be punished by up to seven  years with a five thousand dollar fine.

California was the first state that made medical marijuana legal in 1996 and they legalized it for recreational purposes in 2016. Adults 21 and older can purchase up to eight grams of weed at a time and grow up to six plants at once.  In Colorado, the most popular state for legal recreational use of marijuana, there are more marijuana dispensaries than there are Starbucks and McDonald’s combined.

There are many misconceptions where it comes to the dangerous and varying effects of marijuana. As we step into 2019, more and more states will pass and decline bills to legalize and regulate the use, selling, and growing of marijuana. Doctors and business will reap the reward while politicians go at it with one another to make up their minds about the legalities and use of marijuana.

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