Editorial: Dangers of Measure 91

On Nov. 4, Oregon voted to pass Measure 91, a law that will allow citizens over the age of 21 to purchase and possess eight ounces of marijuana for recreational use. The law also allows citizens to grow no more than four marijuana plants per household. The decision was far from unanimous, as 45 percent of the state voted against the measure. While those in favor of the measure argue that there are many benefits, the dangers of the measure still lurk in the future.
Increased tax revenue for the state of Oregon stands as one of the major proponents in favor of the measure. There is, however, an argument if people are going to purchase marijuana regardless of its legality, then the state should be able to benefit from transactions. The estimated $38.5 million in new tax revenue will be distributed to schools, mental health and addiction services, state police, counties, cities and the Oregon Health Authority. Another effect will be the regulation of marijuana, which will hopefully lead to the death of the Black Market for marijuana in Oregon. Perhaps, one of the most important positive factors in favor of the legalization of marijuana is the effect it will have on the police force. Police will now be able to focus on crimes that hurt people and not on cases related to marijuana. However, the damaging effects of marijuana cannot be ignored.

The legality of marijuana can cause danger not only to the user, but also to other citizens. One cause for concern is a possible increase of impaired drivers on the road. Mixing alcohol and marijuana on the road can prove deadly for innocent parties. Another sector that could feel the effects of marijuana is the workforce. Though marijuana is only legalized for recreational use by able bodied individuals, it would not be surprising to expect an increase of impaired workers, which could lead to decreased productivity. In addition to affecting others, marijuana is an addictive substance that is mind altering to the user. When smoked, marijuana can be irritable to the lungs, making them susceptible to lung infections. Another downside is the effect this can have on young adults under the age of 21. The increased abundance of marijuana could cause even young children to view it as acceptable and safe to use. Marijuana may be viewed as a less harmful drug, but its negative effects could be compounded with the passing of Measure 91.

The pros and cons of the lawfulness of marijuana have caused a chasm in the opinion of the people of Oregon. The question that arises from the review of the law, is whether or not the pros are enough to outweigh the negative effect that marijuana has on people and communities as a whole.