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Marijuana Remains a Topic of Debate

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City

Marijuana laws vary across state lines: Two states have legalized pot, 23 states and Washington D.C. permit use for medical purposes, and 17 states and D.C. have decriminalized it. The debate surrounding marijuana legalization has continued in full force over the last few weeks, focusing on issues from drug abuse prevention among youth to racial disparity.

In Colorado, where adults have been able to legally purchase marijuana since January, concern about youth drug use and safety issues related to edibles mounted, particularly with Halloween approaching. The Denver Police cautioned parents that pot-infused Halloween treats, indistinguishable from regular candy when unwrapped, could be distributed to children. They advised parents to check their kids’ trick-or-treat stash carefully and throw out anything that isn’t in a recognizable, brand name wrapper. Additionally, Colorado officials recently proposed banning edible products altogether to address worries that pot-laced foods could be accidently consumed by children, on Halloween or any other day of the year. The suggestion was withdrawn shortly after, as legalization supporters argued that it would violate Colorado’s Constitutional amendment that legalized all forms of pot.

In New York City, where marijuana is decriminalized, arrests for possession of small amounts of pot continue at about the same pace as last year, according to a recent report. When running for mayor, Bill de Blasio noted that marijuana possession arrests “have disastrous consequences,” particularly on minorities, and promised to address the issue. However, the report found that minorities are still disproportionately targeted: 80 percent of those who faced misdemeanor charges for marijuana possession were black or Latino.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., residents are preparing to vote on a ballot initiative that could make possession of up to two ounces of marijuana legal on November 4, but this initiative would not permit recreational pot sales. The Washington Post’s Editorial Board made the case for slowing down legalization plans in order to examine ongoing scientific research on marijuana’s health risks and to learn from the experiences of Colorado and Washington State. As the Board put it, “It is easier to let a genie out of the bottle than to try to stuff one back in.”

Source: Washington Post

On marijuana legalization plans, the District should slow down

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