Editorial

Is legal recreational marijuana the wave of America's future?

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The rising tide of history seems to be carrying a raft of legal marijuana to Americaís shores.

Illinois is the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis for adults over 21, awaiting only the governorís signature to become law.

While prohibition of alcohol ended in every state more than 85 years ago, using weed to get high will now be allowed in the Land of Lincoln as well as Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia as well as the U.S. territory of Guam.

Medical marijuana is legal in all those states, as well as in Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Utah.

A move to legalize medical marijuana failed in the Nebraska Legislature this year, but thereís a ballot petition drive underway in our state.

Ballot measures were used to legalize recreational marijuana everywhere except Vermont and Illinois.

Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, but current U.S. Attorney Gen. William Barr reversed the policy of his predecessor, Jeff Sessions, Barr saying he wonít prosecute marijuana businesses that comply with state laws.

Twelve states want to put that policy into law, endorsing the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States -- STATES -- Act, which would let states enforce their own marijuana laws without federal interference.

Naturally, money is a major factor in the debate, the Associated Press reporting that medical and recreational marijuana combine for a $10.4 billion industry in the United States, projected to reach $16 billion by the end of the year. Industry sources say that figure could reach $77 billion by 2022.

A quarter million people already have marijuana industry jobs directly involved with handling the plants, and there could be 330,000 employed by 2022.

Investors are jumping on board, but only time will tell whether they are wise.

Itís telling that one industry that suffers with the legalization of recreational marijuana is medical marijuana ó apparently, many patients suddenly found they no longer needed the medication.

One positive development of legalized recreational marijuana should be relief of overcrowding of prisons and the criminal justice system.

Itís sad that so many of us feel compelled to turn to drugs to dull the reality of our short lives on earth, rather than find natural alternatives such as prayer and meditation, exercise and actual, healthy, exciting experiences.

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