Pubdate: Wed, 07 Nov 2012
Source: Arkansas Traveler, The (AR Edu)
Copyright: 2012 The Arkansas Traveler
Author: Katherine Kortebein


Disappointment was surely felt at watch parties in Little Rock 
Tuesday as supporters watched Issue 5 narrowly fail. For at least the 
last 15 years, advocates have been trying to get the Arkansas Medical 
Marijuana Act on the ballot. Arkansas ballot Issue 5 called for "the 
medical use of marijuana legal under Arkansas state law" and 
"established a system for the cultivation, acquisition and 
distribution of marijuana for qualifying patients through nonprofit 
medical marijuana dispensaries," according to the ballot proposal's text.

It is not surprising this law was so contentious in Arkansas. Not so 
surprising that a similar issue passed in Massachusetts.

There are multiple arguments for and against marijuana and countless 
studies to discover the different effects.

Thus far, results have shown that of all recreational substances, 
marijuana is one of the safest available. It is not physically 
addictive, although according to the National Institute of Drug 
Abuse, it could possibly be psychologically addictive. It can also 
negatively affect the immune and respiratory system and impair the 
memory. However, it does not have the same damaging effects as tobacco.

Yet, a lot could be said for the fact that marijuana can be used for 
medical purposes, as that shows it actually improves health in many 
patients. One of the biggest arguments for legalizing marijuana, or 
at least the use of it in medical situations, is the industry. The 
marijuana industry makes between $10 billion to over $120 billion a 
year, according to CNBC. Either way, this is a billion dollar market 
that could help American reduce debt profoundly. As we have legalized 
alcohol and cigarettes, it is time to legalize marijuana. It does 
less damage to the body than either of these legal substances, is 
less addictive (if at all) and could promote American economy immensely.

It is a shock that the proposal for this law even made the ballot 
this year considering how conservative Arkansas' culture is and how 
far it is from the more liberal Western states that have accepted 
this change some time ago, UA political science professor Janine Parry said.

The life of Issue 5 was dramatic at best after 53 percent of likely 
voters were opposed to Issue five before voting, according to the 
Arkansas Poll.

Parry believes that because there was at least 40 percent of voter 
support for the proposed law, she "strongly suspects we will see it 
again soon," she said.

Though she thinks that there may be some stricter regulations on the 
dispensaries in order to make it an "easier sell" to citizens who 
support the idea, but still have some reservations, Parry said

This issue will come up again, especially because our generation will 
likely have even more registered voters in 2016 and the issue of 
legalizing marijuana is one of the major controversies we have been 
introduced to in recent years.

It is something that most people our age have been exposed to in some 
way, whether in person or simply through television and music. Our 
generation is much more accepting of the idea of people smoking now 
that it is much more present in our culture. The host of Chelsea 
Lately, a show on the E! network, Chelsea Handler often references 
the fact that she smokes marijuana both on her show and in her books. 
The popular rapper, Lil Wayne, talks about smoking marijuana in many 
of his songs. Of all the debated issues in modern culture, I find 
this one the most ridiculous. I see no drawbacks to it being a legal 
drug, especially when it can help so many people, such as those going 
through chemotherapy or even people who merely suffer from severe anxiety.

As a nation, we should just start the process and at least legalize 
the use of medical marijuana because I think that will be the end 
result in the next decade. So why fight it?

Katherine Kortebein is a staff columnist. She is a junior English- 
creative writing major.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom