By Thomas Ellis II   OP/ED

With marijuana laws changing across the country, and the state of New Jersey in the fight to legalize or decriminalize marijuana, there was a discussion about cannabis on July 31 at Bethany Baptist Church with advocates for decriminalizing and how to look at the business side of the issue. 

I have known people who have been smoking marijuana for 50 years or more, and with the current climate changing on the position of marijuana, and hundreds of millions of dollars generated for taxes, my, how times have changed.

Many people still believe that weed is bad for you because of the myths and stories that were created during the war on drugs about marijuana. But in today's world, researchers have found several medicinal uses for the so-called drug.

The myth about cannabis being labeled a class drug, and that it is the gateway to stronger drugs is what fueled many heated debates over the years about the plant. Again, I know people who have been smoking pot for many years and never graduated to crack, cocaine, heroin, or even pills. All they wanted to do was smoke their joint and be happy.

Jails are filled with nonviolent offenders who was caught with a dime bag, nickel bag, half an ounce of marijuana and serving time with violent offenders because of the law. However, now in those states where pot have been legalized for recreational use, what do the cities 

and states do?

Thousands of lives have been ruined, with many people labeled addicts and dealers for a plant that the U.S. Government is now growing, selling, and making millions of dollars from. How do those people restore their lives? That is the question.

Now let’s look at some pros and cons of marijuana from the information I gathered from the meeting, internet and other sources. I have tried my best, but make your judgement after you investigate and find out for yourself.

Here are a few pros:


- Marijuana helps with glaucoma

- It can help control epileptic seizures

- A chemical found in marijuana called CBD stops cancer from spreading

- THC slows the progression of Alzheimer's disease

- It relieves arthritis discomfort

- Marijuana spurs creativity in the brain

- Cannabis protects the brain after a stoke

- Weed soothes tremors for people with Parkinson's disease

- Marijuana helps veterans suffering from PTSD

It is truly amazing the medical benefits of this product, but because it is deemed illegal many were unable to reap the benefits.

Now let's look at some of the cons:

- It is addictive, and 10% of users will develop a dependence

- Marijuana is a drug, and a drug changes the way the body works

- Users of pot experience a high that alters the way they perceive things while under the influence

- Marijuana cause brain problems and effect the memory

- Smoking reefer raises the heart rate from 20% to 100% for up to 3 hours after it's been smoked. This increase boosts the risk of several problems including heart palpitations, arrhythmias, and heart attack

- There are also many who believe there is a link between marijuana use and mental illnesses, like depression, and schizophrenia. Researchers aren't sure if the marijuana triggers these conditions, or if people smoking it turn to the drug to self-medicate their symptoms.

Several cities and states have legalized or decriminalized marijuana and in return, it has been a cash cow in generating monies for their state. Colorado, the first state to allow the sale of recreational marijuana, is expected to take in $60 to $70 million in a years’ time in taxes from legal pot sales.

California is another state that will gain a lot of money in taxes from legalizing pot. They can raise millions of dollars just from the sale alone, not to mention the monies raised from growing the plant.

Washington passed initiative 502 in 2012 which legalized small amounts of marijuana related products for adults over the age of 21. The revenue Washington earns in taxing these products is designated for health care and substance-abuse prevention and education.

There is a lot of money to be made and that's why the states are legalizing this so-called drug all of a sudden. Once the politicians and states found out about the money they could make off marijuana and how they can use those monies to fix infrastructure, pay off city and state budget debts, create jobs, lower taxes, and increase revenue, they were all for it - no matter if it was labeled a drug or not.

The state of New Jersey elected a new governor in Phil Murphy last year, and he took office January 16, 2018. One of his campaign promises was to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. Many are for it, but many are against it. Some detractors think it will create more criminal activity in the community, more addicts, and that legalizing pot would be a great disservice to the state.