Puff Puff, It Passed!

Google image depicting legalize fist
Google image depicting legalize fist

By Kavin Carter

Over the election period, several propositions were placed upon the California ballot that would affect our state as well as our college community. One of the most prominent of these propositions is Prop 64, otherwise known as, the Marijuana Legalization Proposition of 2016.

The Proposition passed with flying colors, a resounding 4,957,215 California citizens voted yes to legalize the substance, which is about 56.04% of the state. While another 3,889,080, about 43.96% of the state, voted against the legalization and allowed for the proposition to pass with a 13% margin.

The bill permits the legal, recreational use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 but it remains illegal to smoke marijuana in a public area or while driving. Marijuana will be regulated by the Bureau of Marijuana Control, which used to be called the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation. The state will tax 15% for retail purchases of marijuana and state development taxes on marijuana will be $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves.

One prediction on the table is that California will make 1 billion or more annually. This will not only save law enforcement and the prison system about $100 million a year but it will also save the lives of countless citizens. It will allow for citizens of California that, prior to this law passing, if caught with weed, would be prosecuted by the court system and in many cases even serving time in prison for marijuana offenses.

A study was conducted in 2013 by the American Civil Liberties Union titled “The War on Marijuana in Black and White” and by Brave New Films in 2015, studies showed that Marijuana use is statistically equal between blacks and whites. Yet blacks were four times more likely to be arrested. The legalization of Marijuana effectively puts an end to that particular avenue of discrimination.

While all these changes due to the legalization of marijuana are good for our state as a whole, what does are the implications of this for Providence? In a recent poll taken by student life, 43% of students on campus agreed that recreational use of cannabis wouldn’t be a problem after becoming legal, 38% of students said they did not agree with the legal usage of marijuana and 20% said they were unsure. This revealed that a large majority of students are in favor of the use of recreational marijuana.

School policy, which is in the student handbook pertaining to Civil Law, states that

“In obedience to God and respect for the authorizes that he has placed over us it is understood that our college community will abide by city, country, state, and national laws. An exception would be those rare occasions in which obedience to civil authorities would require behavior that conflicts with the teachings of scripture.” Furthermore, it concludes that the use of Marijuana both for medicinal and recreational purposes are prohibited on and off of campus.

While it is understandable that Marijuana would not be allowed on campus, just as alcohol is not allowed, it is important to understand that some of the stigmas associated with marijuana are unwarranted. It is critical that we try to break these stereotypes by educating ourselves, which will lead to an understanding of what the implications of the legalization of marijuana means for our community, our state, our country.

A stigma, for example, that claims every person who smokes marijuana is addicted to marijuana use is similar to saying that every person who drinks alcohol is an alcoholic. Additionally, while some say that cannabis is a substance with a high rate of addiction, studies have found that only 9% of individuals who smoke marijuana eventually become. By contrast, studies reveal that 15% of regular drinkers will become addicted to alcohol. Although it should be noted that anything in excess can be addictive and will cause the user to become subject to withdrawal when relied upon for an extended period of time.

Within every aspect of society, it is important to not lump a groups of different individuals into the same category. 758,607 people in the state of California use marijuana for medical purposes. As our school grows, if a student was to attend Providence and required for example, a dose of HTC everyday for medical purposes, he/she would be breaking the rules of the student handbook. Should this be allowed to continue, or should our community reassess our terms and policies when pertaining to Marijuana usage?