Marijuana is less addictive than alcohol, cigarettes, and prescription drugs and less destructive than a firearm; however, you can legally possess all of them. There’s never been a single reported case of death by marijuana overdose while legal alcohol, cigarettes, prescription drugs and firearms have proven themselves to be exceedingly more and more harmful.
The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that approximately 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually; the CDC found that 480,000 people die every year in the United States from smoking cigarettes. The National Safety Council found that drug poisoning from prescription drugs is now the number one cause of accidental death in the United States, with 169,936 deaths in 2017. The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation shows that gun violence alone takes a hundred lives every single day in the United States.
This isn’t to say that the use of marijuana doesn’t come with any risk to a person’s health, but we are permitted to acquire these other items with clear and accounted for dangers with ease, weighing the risk and rewards ourselves, and flexing our own free will to do so.
Those who do use marijuana don’t get those benefits, the simple act of possessing marijuana leads to large masses of people arrested every day. Research done in 2016 by the Department of Justice found that 600,000 people are arrested for marijuana annually in the United States, a number exceeding the population of the entire state of Wyoming alone.
According to the ACLU’s website, arrests for marijuana in the United States take up over half of all drug-related arrests in the United States. In their research they found that 8.2 million of these arrests for marijuana that 88% of them were for the simple act of possessing the plant.
Wyoming is one of 18 states that haven’t decriminalized marijuana and has some of the harshest possible penalties for it. Just being under the influence of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor in this state and has a maximum sentence of six months in jail, possessing three ounces or less has a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail and anything above three ounces is a felony with up to five years in prison. All of these sentences also come with a number of hefty fines and court and lawyer fees.
These excessively harsh sentences have the capacity to ruin a person’s life indefinitely just for the simple act of having something; meanwhile Brock Turner admitted to raping a woman behind a dumpster was released three months early of his six month sentence.
Incarcerating people to the extent that Wyoming is doing is an injustice to residents while wasting hundreds of thousands of tax dollars on incarcerating non-violent offenders. Decriminalizing marijuana is the start of only scratching the very surface of the absurd and excessive laws here in Wyoming regarding the use and possession of marijuana.