Mary Jane may come to California

Michael Tandlich, staff writer

Some call it blow, green, dope, ganja. Others call it reefer, hash, herb, boom. But out of over 420 associated terms, the formally accepted one is marijuana: the hemp plant known for producing euphoric effects after consumption. In November, California voters will determine the legality of adult possession of up to an ounce of “pot.”

In 2010, California, a state known for having the eighth largest economy in the world, with over $2 trillion generated toward the GDP, added Proposition 19 to the November ballot. If passed, it will permit adults to legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use.

“It [marijuana] should definitely be legalized,” senior Elizabeth Lunior said.  “Marijuana has dozens of medical and psychological benefits with little to no side effects, like the side effects of other medicines.”

A California law implemented in 1996 permitted the use of medical cannabis, a physician-recommended form of marijuana used for medicine or herbal therapy. Currently, 13 states legally permit medicinal marijuana.

Proponents say that making the drug legal and regulating it will reduce public safety costs and bring in revenue through sales taxes.

According to the Office of National Drug Central Policy, about 25.8 million Americans used recreational marijuana at least once in 2008, and millions more use the drug for recreational purposes worldwide. Economists believe that revenues from tourism would flourish if the proposition passes, as individuals willing to exercise their freedom under the potentially new law would travel to California and inevitably spend money on hotels, airplane tickets, and meals.

From a more conservative look, “weed” is believed to alter  individuals’ perception, so legalizing it could cause traffic issues on streets and safety issues in public places.

“Weed can change your life. From a personal history, I’ve witnessed the death of a family member who was driving high, and I don’t want people to feel the pain I have felt,” senior Mary Wick said.

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or “THC,” the psychoactive substance located within the marijuana plant, breaks through the blood-brain barrier (the membrane separating circulating blood from brain-tissue) and alters naturally-occurring processes within the brain.

Currently, about 50,000 people die each year from traffic incidents, two-thirds of which are caused by speeding and drunk driving. This equates to about 130 people per day.  Adding marijuana DUI violations to the equation, according to opponents, could be staggering.

Regardless of Prop 19’s outcome, the federal government plans to continue strictly prohibiting marijuana use. The results of the voting will come out in late November.