AJ Wolken staff writer
California Proposition 64, one of the many propositions to be voted on in November, proposes legalizing recreational marijuana for those 21 and older. The passing of the proposition would make weed just as easy to access as alcohol, which would have many consequences. Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, the only states with legal recreational marijuana, are all experiencing negative side-effects to the new law, which is why Prop 64 should not be passed in California.
If the proposition were passed, California would see similar effects to those in legalized states, such as an increase in drug-related school expulsions, an increase in drug-related arrests and a huge increase in the already problematic homeless population. All of the states that have legalized recreational marijuana have seen increases in homeless populations. For example, Denver, Colorado, has seen a 150 percent increase in homeless shelter populations for adults and teens following its marijuana legalization. If Prop. 64 were passed, we would see similar, if not worse, increases in homeless population, as one-third of the country’s chronic homeless population already resides in California. Legalizing weed will only make matters worse.
Another downside to legalizing weed would exposing the drug to minors, which not only impacts the health of a child, but also may give children an impression that the intake of marijuana is normal and acceptable. Marijuana would be present in the air, leaving children exposed to the fumes in the atmosphere. The National Poison Data System found that in states that legalized marijuana between 2000 and 2013, the rate of exposure among children increased an average of about 16 percent a year. There were also 1,969 children admitted reported to Poison Control Centers in this time period, many of them consuming the drug in the form of food. Although marijuana’s effect on the brain’s development is still unknown, we do know that it has an effect on a person’s ability to function. This drug should not be introduced into a child’s body, whether it be through the air or through direct consumption, because its long terms effects on the brain are still unknown. Also, the passing of the proposition would lead to the ability for marijuana companies to advertise. Advertisements, along with witnessing weed smoking on the streets, would only add to the interest of children to find out what the product is, introducing the drug to them even earlier.
There are too many negative effects to Prop. 64 for it to be logically passed. Not enough time has passed for legalized states to see any long-term effects of legalizing weed, but so far the statistics show a large amount of damaging results rather than helpful ones.The people of California should vote no on Proposition 64 to protect California’s youth and prevent its homeless problem from becoming unmanageable.