OPINION: Is it time to legalize marijuana in Texas?

By Robert Hoffman, guest columnist

Ten states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Should Texas now legalize it?

Progressive Texans assert that marijuana does not harm humans physically or mentally and produces no harm to consumers. They state this recreational drug has caused no overdose deaths, and it represents a much safer alternative than cigarettes or alcohol. In fact, many predict legal marijuana would help humans heal from many diseases they suffer from.

Time to legalize marijuana in Texas?

Yet, notwithstanding some positive points, marijuana research also shows some inconsistent results. It usually does not heal any diseases, but only helps alleviate pain and suffering that patients experience. Furthermore, no one knows what the long term effects could produce later in life for users who smoke it for 20-30 years.

Could users who smoke marijuana for many years develop more lung diseases or cardio-vascular problems? Although shown to relieve pain, still could it aggravate certain disorders which could lead to more chronic conditions? Finally, like tobacco, would smoking marijuana increase long term cancer risks?

Moreover, what about the conflicting reports of marijuana addiction? Current research shows that marijuana does not produce physiological addiction, but it does produce psychological dependency. Users develop a repeated behavior from using it, and like all bad habits, they might require therapy to break them.

Time to legalize marijuana in Texas?

Others point out that legalizing marijuana would improve the economy by opening new businesses and increasing tax revenue. They point out that Colorado collected almost 70 million in new taxes the first six months after it made it legal. Furthermore, other states that have legalized marijuana have also experienced a tremendous increase in tax revenue.

Yet, some critics state that economics should not dictate whether or not a state should make marijuana legal. People should create wealth from honorable business practices, instead of growing, distributing, and selling a product with history of questionable attributes and qualities. High moral people assert that states need to find other ways to relieve their financial burdens from poor economic planning, instead of taxing marijuana.

Still other people assert that legalizing marijuana would eliminate the criminal element and relieve the courts and judicial system of prosecuting and incarcerating offenders. Besides, less marijuana would enter the country illegally since a large supply already would exist commercially, If businesses could sell marijuana anywhere, then criminals would no longer grow and distribute it, producing less illegal activity.

Yet, rather than making criminals unemployed, would they only move to stronger narcotics such as methamphetamines, cocaine, or opioids? Would their previous marijuana customers now consider using much stronger recreational drugs? Would legalized marijuana truly eliminate the criminal practice of selling illegal drugs?

No one can predict the long term effects and ramifications of legalizing marijuana. Should Texans take this uncertain risk?

Not an ordinary risk, but one with possible tragic repercussions for everyone.

Time to legalize marijuana in Texas?

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