NJ Senator Cory Booker Believes Legalizing Marijuana Could End the Opioid Crisis
By: Kala Fogg
It looks like things just might be looking up for those who utilize weed recreationally. This past Tuesday, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker introduced The Marijuana Justice act, a bill that would decriminalize marijuana federally. Although this bill can be considered a reach, given the fact that we've heard promises of legalizing marijuana in the past on several occasions; Booker's argument and scientific studies are providing "head turning" information, making this the bill to consider.
Booker suggests that we legalize weed for the sake of the poor Americans and people of color who are often victims in the ongoing "war on drugs". It's no secret that specific communities mainly minority and poor communities are targeted when it comes to the arrests being made for the possession of marijuana. This bill will also be used as an incentive to the states condoning these unreasonable amounts of arrests, by minimizing the funding given to them to build new jails and prisons.
Currently only eight states have legalized the drug for recreational use (Washington, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, California, Nevada, Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia) and so far studies show that the opioid epidemic in some of these states have already decreased tremendously. Although Booker admits initially he only looked into possible solutions to solve critical social issues; there is so much more the bill now intends to tackle. Marijuana is considered a schedule I drug meaning it is classified as more dangerous than cocaine and ketamine, despite it's history of being used medically. This bill will also remove marijuana from the list of hazardous substances no longer making it a schedule I drug.
Although there is a growth in majority voters, legislation will still have to fight a major battle on Capital Hill; senators who represent states who have already legalized the drug are still arguing against federal efforts to make the drug legal. Arguments against legalization often mention the current opioid crisis, and the grey area consisting of all the things we still do not know about marijuana.
Although this bill will have to make its way with the Trump Administration particularly Attorney General Jeff Sessions promising to crack down even harder on marijuana, the bill seems to have support from a few doctors and researchers nationwide. Hospitals and doctors in areas where medical marijuana is accessible treat less opioid users and say their patients are less dependent. Despite Not all doctors and researchers being on board as some remain skeptical about its usefulness to opioid addicts, most are still open to researching the drug. Republican senator Cory Gardner of Colorado believes that this conversation is one that needs to be held, and that congress should be engaging in debates. He warns that this is something states will attempt to handle on their own which could lead to numerous states disregarding the law on the federal level.