Deanna Sorenson '13While I’ve never used marijuana in any capacity, I don’t see any reason that it shouldn’t be legalized. It’s already legal in a few states, and studies are starting to emerge that the economy in those states is flourishing, in part, because of it. There are also studies praising the use of marijuana as a treatment for various health issues. I fail to see any difference between marijuana use and alcohol use; they are both drugs used to inebriate, albeit in different ways, but I think the stigma of marijuana is what is keeping it from being legalized. The history and tradition of alcohol keep it “flowing,” but I honestly believe that alcohol use can be much more damaging when used incorrectly than marijuana. I believe legalizing marijuana is inevitable, and I think the outcome will be much more advantageous than detrimental.
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Dr. Tijuana Julian '81The issue of legalizing marijuana seems to be a delicate balance when hearing all sides of the issue. Personally, I have never been a proponent or supporter of legalizing this substance. Quite frequently, this drug has become the gateway for individuals to use other dangerous substances that can lead to long-term health and well-being issues. Individuals who are under the influence of this drug often are not able to fully function, and they may make bad decisions or demonstrate inappropriate behavior. Some studies have shown a correlation between marijuana usage and loss of IQ, as well as long-term impact on young people whose brains are still growing and maturing. Contrary to this, some individuals with certain medical conditions have bene ted from medical marijuana, prescribed under the direct supervision and guidance of a medical professional. This type of usage seems to be of value, particularly in providing comfort and in extending life to those who are suffering.
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Erin Hotchkiss '19Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked in his shoes (or at least shared a “doobie” with him). When it comes to marijuana legalization, or any debated issue, compassion is a vital component. With high incarceration rates and opioid overdoses sweeping across the nation, it’s fair to ask that policies over two decades old be revisited. We live in an accelerated age complete with virtual reality, smart houses and artificial wombs. If we are exploring innovative technology and techniques, we should do the same when tackling social and legislative issues. We must have compassion toward those using marijuana’s benefits — medically, economically, and yes, even recreationally. There’s power in humility and recognizing one “thing,” like marijuana, isn’t solely good or bad. We must also have compassion towards those who’ve implemented well-intended policies that didn’t work or were unsustainable. Solutions to legalization will arise when we’re willing to revisit and revitalize outdated drug policies with compassion.
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Dr. David Derossett '90Drug policy must be informed by empirical evidence about drugs. Unfortunately, drug policy in the United States has been shaped by racism, class conflict and fear of drugs and users—real and imagined. This has led to predominantly prohibitionist federal policy goals. Alternatively, a “harm reduction” model, which focuses on reducing harm caused by both drug use and drug policy, is gaining support. Evidence of medical uses of marijuana, the enormous expense and devastating consequences of enforcement of strict prohibitionist policies (particularly on poor and minority communities) and positive outcomes from the harm reduction approach in Europe have contributed to a wave of marijuana decriminalization and legalization efforts at the state and local level. Growing evidence suggests a federal harm reduction approach, at least for marijuana, would be a more just and more effective model of reducing the social and personal consequences of drug use.
Associate Professor — Sociology