Category Archives: My Favorites

The Legality of Marijuana in the United States

Published / by Stephenson

legal books on a table

The legality of marijuana in the United States has been under fierce debate for decades. Countless political and cultural movements have made efforts to either legalize or criminalize marijuana, and its status as a schedule I controlled substance has impacted the nation for decades. How did Marijuana become classified in the way it is today, and what is the likely future of the drug?

In 1970, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a list of drug schedules which categorized drugs into separate categories. Schedule I drugs are considered the most harmful of them all, and constitute drugs with high risk and no counterbalancing benefits; Marijuana is categorized as a schedule I drug.

While marijuana’s classification as a schedule I drug has endured fiery debate from the start, the enforcement of statutes outlawing and punishing its use has a mixed history. In recent years, particularly under former President Barack Obama, the federal government has largely stepped back from policing marijuana, instead opting to allow states to decide for themselves how to implement marijuana laws.

Individual states gradually began to decriminalize marijuana as early as the 1970’s, though medicinal cannabis wasn’t legalized until 1996. The states of Colorado and Washington famously legalized marijuana for recreational use for the first time in U.S. history in 2012, unleashing an avalanche of legal change across the nation.

Currently, recreational usage of marijuana is legal in eight states and the District of Columbia. Medicinal marijuana is currently legal in 12 states, and most states have some form of marijuana legalized or decriminalized, with the exception of Kansas, Idaho and South Dakota.

Many states have pending legal or political initiatives to either decriminalize, fully legalize, or medically legalize marijuana. Public support for marijuana’s legalization has grown rapidly in recent decades, with a majority of Americans now supporting it.

The classification of marijuana as a schedule I drug has had a significant impact on U.S. history; millions of arrests have taken place for the possession, distribution, and use of marijuana over the past few decades. Social and legal activist have claimed that marijuana laws often fall along distinctly racial lines, and unfairly lead to greater incarceration rates among minorities.

The full legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana appears to be continuously gaining support in the United States, though current Attorney General Jeff Sessions, head of the U.S. Justice Department, has signaled his intention to resist legalization efforts. Nonetheless, despite its broad support among the American public, the legalization of marijuana was not a particularly large issue in the 2016 presidential election.
What are your thoughts on the legalization of marijuana? How has it affected you? Leave a comment below!

Gun Alternatives for Police Officers

Published / by Stephenson

I can only imagine what it is like to be a police officer today. The world we leave in is a dangerous place. Although I feel that racial profiling does, unfortunately, ignite a lot of fear in police officers, their overall fear on the job is not completely unwarranted.

I try to imagine stopping a random stranger on the side of the road and approaching his or her car. I try to imagine going to a stranger’s home to investigate a domestic dispute call and not knowing how violent the aggressor is. That is certainly not a job that I could personally take on, and I commend police officers for taking on that role.

With the fear of the unknown, I understand the need for protection. I certainly would not roam the city without a sufficient method of protection. That being said, I often wonder why guns are the primary method of choice. I also wonder why there are not more alternative uses of protection available. I know that there are Tasers, and I think that they are an excellent alternative to guns. However, I do not understand why they are not used more. I read an article written by a retired cop who said that guns are used more often, because you may only have one option of defense if the aggressor comes at you with deadly force. The article also explained that for Tasers, there needs to be contact of the skin with both electrodes. If that contact does not happen, the Taser will be ineffective.

After reading that article, I can understand why guns are used more often. I just don’t understand why we have not improved the Taser or worked on creating another alternative. Guns are extremely deadly, yet very easy to use. A lot of police officers are not in danger of “deadly force” when they are dealing with citizens. They panic, and they immediately grab their guns, because they know that that will stop the problem. But at the end of the day, it does not stop the problem, and a lot of innocent people are killed.

I am not the one creating these weapons, so I cannot speak on how easy it is to create a new weapon that will be effective while also protecting police officers. However, I do know that we spend a lot of money and time arresting and incarcerating people for marijuana charges, but we cannot seem to spend the time and money on finding an alternative to guns for police officers. Police officers are not the only ones who need to protected, citizens do too. A misunderstanding should not lead to a gunshot wound to the chest. I think that we have enough intelligent individuals who can come up with a non-deadly form of protection for police officers, that it is more effective than the Taser.