GRAPHIC | Tara Espinoza
On Nov 8, people will go to the polls to vote in Arkansas’s general election across the state. On the ballot this year will be the issue of legalizing recreational marijuana use. Arka Tech not only wants to encourage students to vote in general but also to vote “yes” to legalizing recreational marijuana.
Arka Tech has concluded that the pros of this issue outweigh the cons. To start, Arkansans have shown an increasing interest in the legalization of marijuana. In 2016 voters voted in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. In Eureka Springs, Arkansas possession of marijuana has even been decriminalized. We believe it is essential to listen to the voices of citizens.
Recreational marijuana is illegal, unfairly targets racial minorities, and is a high contributor to mass incarceration. The American Civil Liberties Union reported in 2020 that Black people in Arkansas were 2.4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white people despite comparable usage rates. The Prison Policy Initiative reports that Arkansas has one of the highest incarceration rates in the United States. Legalizing recreational marijuana could improve this.
Arka Tech believes that marijuana should not be viewed any differently from alcohol. Alcohol is just as, if not more, dangerous a choice to partake in. Citizens should have the freedom to make that choice for themself. Furthermore, like alcohol, Arkansas would be able to regulate and tax the growing and selling of marijuana, making it safer than what it is today.
The bill on the ballot includes removing the taxes on medical marijuana and placing it on recreational marijuana, which would make marijuana less expensive for those with a medical need.
Many arguments against legalizing recreational marijuana are slippery slope arguments that are simply logical fallacies. Various research has found that the claim that marijuana is a “gateway drug” is untrue, and there is not much evidence to support the claim that it will lead to the legalization of other harsher drugs. Like all agriculture, the farming of marijuana may have negative environmental impacts. However, legalization would simply make growing marijuana regulatable by the state. The bill on the ballot only allows licensed people to grow marijuana. Therefore reckless backyard weed farms can be replaced with properly managed farms.
For these reasons, Arka Tech believes students should vote in favor of legalizing marijuana; more than anything, however, it is essential to make informed decisions when voting. You can find more information about the issue at ballotpedia.org and other local news sources.