Run-On Sentences: A backward step for Michigan

Jack Shinabarger is a freshman magazine journalism major and writes ‘Run-On Sentences” for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Jack at jjshinab@bsu.edu.

During midterm elections my home state of Michigan passed Proposal 1 56-44, making it the first Midwest state to legalize recreational marijuana. The state legalized medical marijuana in 2008, and to many in the state, it was only a matter of time before it was legalized in full.

Soon adults 21 and up in the state will be able to purchase, possess and use marijuana without being arrested or penalized. People will also be able to grow up to 12 plants for personal use. Of course you will not be able to start smoking a joint out in public just yet, or start purchasing bud at your local weed dispensary. But it’s ultimately a major victory for those who have been pushing for the legalization for so long.

But for me, I’m not so sure that this is the best step for Michigan.

I love my home state to death, however, I cannot say that I’m on board with the legalization of recreational marijuana. I believe that legalizing this substance on the state level will do more harm than good.

People are always quick to point out that legalizing weed is beneficial to the state’s economy. Marijuana businesses will have to pay state taxes in order to sell, and that makes some extra revenue for state government to pump into other various projects. And yes, that is true. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, and according to the Colorado Department of Revenue, Colorado marijuana shops earned $1.51 billion in revenue during 2017. From that, the state collected $247 million in taxes from those sales.

That does sound like a lot of money. Maybe with that sort of money Michigan could fix all those potholes in our roads, or perhaps completely fix the Flint problem after four years.

However the projected tax revenue will only be a drop in the bucket compared to the Michigan government’s other sources for cash. According to the state’s website, Michigan collected $28.5 billion in taxes in 2017, 35.6 percent of that from personal income and 27.3 percent from sales. The new marijuana tax is projected to bring in only $134 million, or .5 percent, which is frankly pathetic compared to the bigger picture.

There will also be the problem of residents driving under the influence of marijuana. Car crashes will no doubt increase as more and more people think it’s a good idea to go for a night drive after smoking a few bowls. A report from the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice shows the number of fatal crashes where a driver tested positive for any cannabinoid substance rose from 11 percent in 2013 to 21 percent in 2017.

I do not want the people of Michigan to have access to marijuana so easily. I know there’s millions of people who extol about the “benefits” that pot apparently brings into your life, but when you remove all these layers of security placed on the substance, it’s still a drug that people abuse. It’s as if Michigan is introducing another form of alcohol in people’s lives, and well all know how bad that can be if it’s overused.

Drugs will consume you if you focus your time on them too much. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse people who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a “marijuana use disorder.”

Weed is already popular in Michigan amongst young adults. A survey done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2014 showed that 33 percent of people aged 18-25 in Michigan used marijuana in the previous year. Even back when it was illegal recreationally, people still bought regularly from dealers and legalizing it will only make it much easier to find and purchase.

Kids will start to light up every single day without a care in the world and will become dependent on it. Because why deal with your problems or stress when you can just pack a bowl and watch cartoons for hours, right? Everything is more fun when you’re high and can’t comprehend the world around you, right? Anything in excess is detrimental to one’s health, and marijuana is no different.

I know my opinion is going to be unpopular with people my age because according to a Gallup poll, those aged 18-29 in America have the highest percentage of population reporting regularly or occasionally smoking pot. But in reality the new tax on marijuana will not produce any hard cash, and the amount the state of Michigan receives will not make up for the lost youth who may become dependant on it.

There are a lot more productive things that someone can do besides getting high, and I would hate to see the state that I love so much fall into the same trap that many people have already gone through with harder substances. The opioid crisis is getting worse in Michigan, as the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and Appriss Health reported a 30 percent rise in overdose deaths from 2013-2015. The legalization of marijuana will only fan the flames higher of a state’s drug problem that has already claimed so many lives.

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