“High Hopes,” Tyler Sherma (2016) — Inquiry 3

High Hopes

What do the world’s richest man, the most decorated Olympic athlete in history, and multiple U.S presidents have in common? Not only were they all very successful in their own respects, but they have also smoked marijuana before. Bill Gates, Michael Phelps, and Barack Obama (to name a few) have all motivated and impacted the lives of millions, if not, billions. Does the possession and use of an illegal substance diminish their successes and ability to inspire the world? Marijuana is not only gaining popularity among Americans, but is even gaining legal status in several states. Washington and Colorado led the charge in legalizing not only medicinal use of cannabis, but also recreational as well, while states, such as Ohio, have ballots ready to be voted on. With numerous health, economic, and social benefits, both medical and recreational use of marijuana should be legalized in Ohio.

Marijuana is a derivative of the plant species Cannabis and has been used by many cultures throughout history. The very first recorded use of the cannabis plant for medicinal purposes came around 3,000 BC in ancient China in order to remedy rheumatism and malaria, among a few other problems (Stack et al.). Soon after, cannabis found itself to be a popular luxury in both ancient Greece and ancient Rome for both practical purposes (hemp rope) and again, medical uses. This plant was so useful that during the 17th century, Britain demanded the Jamestown settlers to cultivate hemp in order to fuel the British industry. Even the Founding Fathers, most notably Thomas Jefferson, were such avid supporters, that they had entire farms devoted to the hemp plant. Popular belief even notes that both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were frequently seen smoking the marijuana itself. Additionally, world famous inventor and creative thinker, Henry Ford, also found hemp to have a plethora of practical uses. Not only did he construct a car made out of hemp, he made it able to be run on hemp oil. As clearly shown, the hemp plant has been a multifunctional wonder plant used by the greatest of civilizations and because of this, possesses great economic opportunity.

The hemp plant itself has fueled the economy of entire nations but on a more current note, is fueling local state’s economies. Washington and Colorado were the first two states to fully legalize recreational use and this step has paid off immensely for their economies. When Colorado legalized marijuana they knew it would be an instant success and saw this as an opportunity to gain a substantial tax revenue. With this in mind, Colorado imposed a 28% tax rate on the purchase of marijuana. This high tax rate by no means deterred avid pot users from purchasing from their local head shops as Colorado collected $53 million in tax revenue in the first year alone (Lobosco). Many would argue that $53 million is nowhere near the entire value of state expenditures but it definitely spurred the local economies and provided more revenue than it did when it was illegal–$53 million is better than $0. Furthermore, one must consider the fact that Ohio’s population is over double that of Colorado’s. This implies that, hypothetically, the tax revenue from said legalization would be doubled as well. Another major difference between Colorado and Ohio is whereas the tax rate in Colorado was 28%, the total tax rate for Ohio would be just 20%, but again, an increase in population would be grounds for compensation (Smith).

Issue 3 concerns legalization of marijuana for the upcoming election in November of 2015. Legalization of marijuana in Ohio would create 10 farming districts, by county, throughout the state. Opponents to Issue 3 argue that the 10 district farming system would create unfair monopolies leading to ridiculous pricing but this simply is not true.  If nothing else, the current proposed amendment allows for additional farming licenses to be purchased, adding on to the current farming districts, and thus increasing competition (Smith). In the end, black market sellers would continue to dominate the sector. A very large amount of marijuana users are under the age of 21 and with the passing of Issue 3, smoking would still only be legal to those 21 and over. Because of this, even with the farming districts in place, many would still go to their local dealers to obtain pot, spurring further competition to the point where marijuana shops would have to lower their prices to the lowest point possible in order to stay in business. Legalization would not only spur both the formal and informal markets, but it would clear the prison and jail system of thousands accused of petty crimes. As former captain of the Cincinnati police department stated “…Simply put, they (anti-marijuana laws) don’t work. Ohio spends over $100 million each year on this failed effort. It’s time for marijuana reform so law enforcement can spend their time cracking down on real criminals…” (ResponsibleOhio). Not only does the legalization of marijuana have a massive impact on the state’s economy, it would also provide numerous health benefits.

So prevalent were the medicinal aspects of marijuana that centuries of civilizations saw this “magical” plant to be a mysterious cure-all. Although the pure recreational aspect of the drug is still highly debatable, millions agree that the drug should at least be legalized for its medicinal purposes. After intensive research of many notable medical institutes, Business Insider composed a list of 23 health benefits of medical marijuana. In one of these benefits, The National Eye Institute stated that “marijuana…lowered intraocular pressure in people with normal pressure and those with glaucoma” (Welsh et al.). This means that less stress is applied within the eye to the optic nerve potentially preventing a loss of vision.

Another serious health benefit to marijuana is the prevention of epileptic seizures. In his experiments on rats, Robert J. DeLorenzo of Virginia Commonwealth University discovered that the THC present in marijuana binds brain cells responsible for controlling excitability, reducing sporadic brain activity, and thus controlling seizures (Welsh et al.). This discovery greatly helps anyone who suffers from PKU, stroke, Dravet’s syndrome, epilepsy and heart disease, to name just a few seizure-linked diseases. With this in mind, the use of marijuana would greatly improve the day-to-day lives of many of those suffering and help them live a much more normal, pain-free life. Moreover, the various effects of marijuana have strong potential in the treatment and easing processes of cancer. Researchers at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco discovered that a certain chemical in marijuana stops the transcription of RNA in a gene which is linked to spreading This would ultimately contain the dispersion of cancerous cells (Welsh et al.). In conjunction with this and “munchies”, a common side effect that increases the desire for food, the consumption of marijuana would also assist in the appetite loss associated with cancer. The examples stated are just a few of the hundreds of potential medical benefits that could be used to treat, cure, or ease the effects of thousands of diseases.

With legalization in states such as Washington, California, Alaska and Colorado, the popularity of marijuana has increased exponentially. Now more than ever, doctors, lawmakers, and economic specialists are closely observing the potential that legalized marijuana has to offer. In Ohio alone, it would supply thousands of jobs and millions of tax dollars in revenue. In the medical sector, those suffering from some of the toughest ailments would finally be at ease and relieved from their daily stresses. The stigmatism that marijuana only produces a lazy, drug-addicted individual is that of old as the extent of its use has recently come into focus. The election is approaching and it is time to vote yes on Issue 3 for the greater good of not only those that need it, but the state of Ohio.


Works Cited

Lobosco, Katie. “Recreational Pot Delivers $53 Million in Tax Revenue to Colorado.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 12 Feb. 2015. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

ResponsibleOhio. “Retired police captain: Ohio’s destructive marijuana laws don’t work.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 24 Aug. 2015. Web. 22 Oct. 2015

Smith, Aaron. “Ohio to Vote on Marijuana Legalization.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 13 Aug. 2015. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

Stack, Patrick, and Claire Suddath. “Medical Marijuana.” Time. Time Inc., 21 Oct. 2009. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.

Welsh, Jennifer, and Kevin Loria. “23 Health Benefits Of Marijuana.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 20 Apr. 2014. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.