Nevada, home to Sin City, with legal brothels and grocery store slot machines, may become the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana.
An initiative that would make it okay to carry as many as three ounces of marijuana for private recreational use appeared on Nevada’s Nov. 5 ballot.
In fact, if approved, the state government would set up a legal market for buying and selling pot.
There were also modest pot-initiatives in Arizona, Ohio and San Francisco.
Could Pennsylvania abandon its Puritan roots and make pot legal?
Unfortunately for Mary Jane, she got caught up in the ’60s counterculture as a mild hallucinogen, and became a combatant in America’s war on drugs.
Studies show that aside from being lazy and forgetful, people high on marijuana show the same lack of coordination on standard drunk-driver tests as do people who have had too much to drink.
And someone who smokes five joints per week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day.
So why are cigarettes legal in Pennsylvania? And why does the state own liquor stores?
The answer is money.
Pennsylvania’s 223 percent increase on cigarette tax was supposedly to discourage teens from smoking.
But raising the cigarette tax to $1.00 per pack also brought the state enough money to balance this year’s budget and offset a $1.1 billion shortfall in last year’s spending plan.
This year, the tax increase is expected to put an additional $600 million in state coffers.
And in the last fiscal year, the total contribution to the state by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board was over $420 million.
With an estimated value of $15 billion annually, marijuana is among the nation’s top 10 cash crops.
But because of its taboo, marijuana is something that state legislators are trying to avoid even though studies show that marijuana isn’t any more addictive or dangerous than cigarettes and alcohol.
Americans are also undecided on the issue. Some feel that marijuana is as harmful as crack, while others testify that it is as tame as a Starbucks’ macchiato.
In the meantime, as the pro-pot movement gains momentum, and anti-drug activists work to thwart their efforts, state laws for marijuana possession remain Draconian.
In Pennsylvania, possession of up to 30 grams is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
The penalties for possession of greater than 30 grams increase to a possible one year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
A second or subsequent conviction can double the penalty.
Despite anti-drug, just-say-no efforts, marijuana has remained undyingly popular.
According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, marijuana is the most widely available and most frequently used drug in Pennsylvania.
But until Pennsylvania finds a way to make a profit from its production and sale, marijuana will remain cheap, available and illegal.
The Temple News editorial board members are:
• Jeremy Smith, Editor in Chief
• Mike Gainer, Managing Editor
• Brian White, News Editor
• Kia Gregory, Opinion Editor
Letters to the editor can be submitted via our Web site @ www.temple-news.com under the “submissions” link. They can also be dropped off at the Temple News office located in the Student Center, Room 315.