Legislation to make marijuana use legal has passed in Massachusetts. The cultural, economic and social impacts of such legislation will be felt in the capital region and beyond.
According to News Channel 10, “The law allows adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana outside the home, up to 10 ounces inside the home, and to grow up to 12 marijuana plants per household.”
Residents of Massachusetts can not smoke marijuana in public, but smoking on porches is allowed. The new legislation also allows residents the power to buy an ounce from a dealer, but they can still face criminal charges for dealing the substance.”
Hudson Valley student’s have a diverse and varying opinion when it comes to the new legislation.
Mortuary science student S.R. said, “I think it’s stupid. I mean sure legalize it, but now you’re probably going to have drug lords coming in doing underground business to minors because you’re selling it legally now.”
S.R. is worried that the legislation will only promote illegal activity.
“Well, on one hand I can see its benefits because medical marijuana can be useful, but I’m also worried that it’s similar to alcohol. It’s very possible for people to misuse it,” said architecture student Robert Krupitza.
Krupitza believes that marijuana has positive and negative qualities. Criminal justice student A.B. is more concerned with public usage, and marijuana use in the presence of children.
A.B. said, “I’m fine with [the legalization]. I mean I’m not sure I want everyone doing it in public because that might have an affect on people. I don’t want it around kids, but I’m fine with people using [marijuana] privately in their own homes.”
This law will have an impact on the state, whether that be through taxes or the number of arrests made in the Massachusetts.
Liberal arts student Amber Holt said, “[Marijuana legalization] might affect some of the laws they propose, but they may have to work around the legalization of marijuana.”
“ It’s gonna stimulate their economy like it did with the other states that legalized [marijuana],” said Branden C.
A 20-year-old student named K.S. said the legalization of marijuana may have an affect on the capital region.
“I think it will affect the area a little bit. We’ll probably see more more people smoking marijuana until it gets legalized here,” said K.S.
Krupitza agrees that there likely be an effect in the capital region.
“Massachusetts is pretty close to us, and there’s a tendency for states to pick up legislation in other states. If something becomes legal in one state, there’s a higher chance of it happening in the surrounding states,” said Krupitza.
Students have displayed disapproval with the legalization of marijuana. S.R. believes it’s because marijuana has been seen as an illegal substance since 1952.
According to “A Brief History of Marijuana Law in America” by Scott C. Martin, in 1952, the Boggs Act provided stiff mandatory sentences for offenses involving a variety of drugs, including marijuana.
S.R. also said that changing opinions on the substance will take an extensive period of time.
“[The stigma against marijuana] is because of drug lords. It’s been viewed as something that’s illegal for so long. Now we’re slowly progressing to ‘well, it’s for the medical purposes,’ and a lot of people still grow it illegally,” said S.R.
Branden C. believes that people are against marijuana because of their religious beliefs.
Looking into the future, some students believe that similar legislation could make its way to the capital region. Holt said, “I think it might happen here because New York is usually progressive in law making, so we could be the next state, but I’m not completely sure.”
A.B. also agrees that recreational legalization is a possibility in New York. A.B. said, “If they do it in one state then that’s definitely something we can look at happening here. If it works there it will probably work in other places, so it all depends on how it works in Massachusetts.”
The legislation would have a larger influence on students at Hudson Valley who live in Massachusetts, and those who smoke marijuana.
Branden C. uses marijuana for recreational use. He believes that his use of marijuana has had an effect on his health. He also said that marijuana has a positive impact on people as well.
“It’s been known to cure diseases. It can help people with mental disorders. It helps people fight through the side effects of chemotherapy. It has a lot of benefits, and it can do a lot for people.”
Branden said that he doesn’t see any real limitations in his everyday life. Branden has only noticed that it does have an effect when he smokes before work. “I’m not gonna get drunk before I go to work. You should just treat it like alcohol. If you’re responsible, you can smoke weed without any issues.”
Branden said that there isn’t a real reason for his use of marijuana. “It’s just a recreational thing. If I really feel like smoking it I’ll do it. I don’t feel the urge to smoke. I’m not a wake-and-bake kind of person. I’m more of a holiday smoker.”
Branden compares smoking marijuana to drinking, and the idea that people drink just because they feel the urge to do it. They don’t necessarily have an addiction to drinking, but it’s recreational.