By Kelsey Keener
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–SUU students gathered to discuss the legalization of marijuana during last week’s Pizza and Politics at the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service at SUU.
Moderators Ayleen Perry and Ryan Robinson began the discussion by taking a poll of the room. The majority of those in attendance were supportive of legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana, some were only in favor of legalizing it for medicinal purposes and a few did not agree with legalizing it all.
When asked whether marijuana should be under state or federal jurisdiction, most students said it should be under the state’s control. Some said that leaving it under federal jurisdiction allows for better control of the substance.
The pros and cons of legalizing this substance were also discussed. Students brought up the fact that if it were legal, marijuana sales could be taxed and those funds could be used by the state. In addition, legalization could result in decriminalization and non-violent offenders being released from prisons, which would reduce the financial burden on taxpayers. If it is legalized there might also be better research surrounding the substance due to more people being willing to be more honest about it.
On the other hand, one student added that some people might not want to be exposed to marijuana or any by-products of it, much like some do not want to be exposed to second-hand cigarette smoke.
Perry and Robinson gave an overview of the different ways marijuana can be ingested, then asked what forms, if any, should be legal if the substance is legalized. Some students agreed that only forms focused on the medicinal properties of the substance should be legal, and one said only forms that do not affect others, such as smoking, should be legal. A few students said that it should be legal in any form but heavily regulated.
There was much discussion on the criminal justice aspect of legalizing marijuana. Perry and Robinson asked what should happen to the current population in custody due to possession of marijuana.
Several students said that those currently serving time for possession should serve their entire sentence even if marijuana is legalized, because they still broke the law. Others suggested that non-violent offenders should be released from custody.