Does an ounce count?

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Skyler Black

Marijuana has been a topic of debate for years. From the videos created to impose fear in the public to now creating shops in which the drugs can be purchased, marijuana has come a long way. Cities and counties all around the United States have passed laws to lessen the punishment for possession.

DeKalb county is currently working towards making the punishment for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a ticket only offense. That would make it very similar to a simple traffic violation. While around 18 other states have already passed laws to decriminalize minor possession, this would be the first area in Georgia to attempt it.

The importance of this law cannot be overstated. Not only will it help police forces around the country reallocate resources to focusing on more serious crimes, but it may even pave the way for further reform at the state government level. As a whole, this law could change the “war on drugs” for the better.

When you look at the negatives of marijuana next to those of alcohol, statistically, alcohol is much worse. The amount of alcohol related crime in the US is much higher when compared to marijuana as well as the amount of people who become dependent on alcohol. While I do not advocate the use of marijuana, I am fully aware that, in the case of alcohol and marijuana, we practice a double standard. We arrest individuals that have possession of an insignificant amount of a natural weed and throw them in jail for a few years, while people that are drinking, and have a higher chance of hurting other people, we throw in a cell for a day and let them walk out.

Some individuals are concerned that the measure will be promoting use and abuse. The actual aim of decreasing the punishment is to keep younger people out of jail and to ensure that their record is not tainted by something as small as possession of a weed.

My personal view of this law is that the majority of people that possess more than one ounce of marijuana have the intent to sell or distribute and should be arrested. But those that have less than an ounce, in my opinion, are just trying to mellow out. Furthermore, if and when the substance is legalized, it would increase revenue both statewide and nationwide.

The beliefs that I hold are not the only ones that are important within the Georgia Southern community. Many individuals wanted to voice their opinion and how they believed that it may affect them.

Do you think that this law should be passed and why?

Alexi Grant, senior public relations major

“I feel that it should not because I have firm opinions that marijuana should be completely illegal forever and always. I know that from some studies have shown that employees working in places where it has been legalized work ethic has decreased. They have had issues just with overall workplaces environment since it does make some people slightly less motivated.”

Jayci Carroll, senior film and production major

“I think it should be decriminalized because it’s proven to help a lot of people concentrate and study. It has tremendous effects with people with severe anxiety. I think that if that’s what they are using it for, which that’s what most people with small amounts are using to calm themselves. To me personally, it is not a gateway drug.”

Armani Harvey, senior film and production major

“I think less than an ounce of marijuana can be decriminalized because you are not with the intention to sell. If you have over an ounce, like towards a pound, you have intention to sell. If you are just getting some and smoking by yourself, I don’t think it should be a crime where you get arrested.”

Emil Laursen, freshman economics major

“I haven’t had any experience with this before but I wouldn’t mind if it was decriminalized because I don’t think it has many instances of people using it badly. I think it will be fine when it is that little and for your own use. But whenever you have that strict rules about alcohol, I think that they should go hand in hand. I’m kind of split about it.”

Anthony Cooper, senior exercise science

“Yeah of course. Putting that on the record for something that’s not a violent act messes up people’s opportunities that they could have for future jobs and careers. There’s nothing really criminal about weed anyway.”

Kennedi Slay, freshman political science major

“I think it’s a good idea because a lot of people have it now. Like a lot of people have weed even though it is illegal. I think it is a good idea because people are going to do it no matter what.”

Jeanine Lombard, freshman business major

“But it could make it more likely to carry more. They may think that if they can get away with this amount then maybe I can get away with more.”