Marijuana approval rate rises

Students think medical marijuana should be legal in VA

Singer Miley Cyrus has been seen smoking marijuana on stage.

Singer Miley Cyrus has been seen smoking marijuana on stage.

t AHS you can sometimes smell the faint twang of sweet burnt earth. It’s the smell of marijuana, which seems to sometimes linger in the school’s hallway by the main gym. If you were to ask around, not everyone will admit that they’ve smoked marijuana before, but many of them will agree it should become legal.

This is a new trend which has become more prominent in the past ten years, being marked by the recent legalization of pot in Colorado and California. According to a PEW Research study, in 2002 only 32% of the public approved of the legalization of marijuana, with a 61% disapprove rate. But in another recent PEW research study, marijuana now has a 52% national approval rate.

“I think it should be legal because there are no reported deaths with weed, physically better than cigarettes and alcohol and it’s commonly used,” sophomore Danny Nguyen said.

The question of marijuana’s legality used to never be a question- before 1911. Marijuana, or cannabis, which is its actual name, was legal in the United States. It was only after 1911 when Massachusetts banned it that other states began to as well. Following Massachusetts, from 1915 to 1927 ten other states banned the use of cannabis; but Virginia didn’t.

Medical cannabis has been used since 2900 B.C. during the Chinese dynasty. Cannabis was legal in the U.S. until 1937 when the Marijuana Tax Act was passed that made “possession or transfer of cannabis illegal throughout the United States under federal law, excluding medical and industrial uses”. Medical marijuana wasn’t banned in the U.S. until 1942.

In 1996 California decriminalized medical marijuana and Alaska, Oregon and Washington state followed two years later. Currently there are 20 states which have legalized medical marijuana.

And now, there is a movement among the millennials to not only legalize the use of medical marijuana in Virginia, but also at the federal level. But many don’t realize how difficult it will be to do.

“Virginia has a lot of conservative church-goers who don’t want to legalize marijuana,” senior Dong Kim said.

Virginia is traditionally a very conservative state and people who live in Virginia, especially Southern Virginia, do not all necessarily want marijuana to be legalized. Last year, Delegate David Eaglin proposed a study that would analyze the selling of marijuana at Virginia ABC stores. It was not passed by the subcommittee.

“It would work as long as the banks immediately take the legally obtained drug money to prevent money laundering [from ABC employees],” Kim said.

While many believe that Virginia should legalize marijuana, many also believe that the cost government efforts to stop the use of marijuana are more than they’re worth. But despite this large majority of the population, many still believe that total legalization is far away.

“There’s too many conservatives in Virginia for it to be legal [soon],” Kim said.

Celebrities also contribute to the sudden turn of the country’s pro-marijuana stance. Young adults see pictures of celebrities smoking pot on Instagram. Pop singer Rihanna is known to post pictures of herself smoking marijuana and recently Miley Cyrus has been seen smoking marijuana on stage at her recent concerts.

Celebrities influence younger people by their actions. If teenagers see their favorite celebrity smoking marijuana, they would be more likely to try it because they would want to imitate that celebrity.

While some celebrities are known for living a drug oriented lifestyle, other celebrities speak out against marijuana and other drug use. Singers like Cassadee Pope and Bruce Springsteen have spoken out against drug use, and stay drug free for their fans.

“Teenagers are very affected by famous people. If they are seen using pot, it would influence teens to smoke. If [celebrities] go against weed, it would be very beneficial,” sophomore Annie Stout said.

While in many parts of the country the legalization of marijuana is becoming a reality, for Virginia this possibility is unlikely. Despite the millennials and their progressive-thinking, along with multiple celebrities who glorify smoking marijuana, Virginia is still very conservative and it is very unlikely for any bills to pass in the Virginia Senate or through a public vote.