With the recent legalization of marijuana in two states, and 17 states following with similar legislation in regards to medical consumption, the topic of cannabis use has certainly hit the mainstream. This is not to say, however, that marijuana use is condoned my most Americans, especially mothers like me. Mothers in general pose a very real concern about legalization for many reasons. One concern is the fear that it will encourage children to use the substance which can impair cognitive functioning if consumed before the age of fifteen. While this is a valid point, the act of legalizing marijuana is very unlikely to have this effect on minors. More likely is the overall reduction of young people consuming marijuana, due to more strict regulations surrounding its distribution.
Currently, people who sell pot (with the exception of licensed dealers) have little concern for the people to whom they are selling. It doesn’t matter whether they are fifteen or fifty, as long as they have the money. Because distributors will be required to check identification, the chances of marijuana ending up in a minor’s hands will naturally diminish. As it stands now, it is easier for minors to get pot than either alcohol or cigarettes (NORML).
Another concern many mothers face in regards to marijuana legislation, namely the support of such legislation, is the fear of social repercussions. We are constantly bombarded with propaganda about how to be a “good mother”. Sites like 24/7 Moms or CafeMom are filled with parenting tips, recipe ideas, and fashion trends for busy mothers. But nowhere in the “me time” sections does it dare mention relaxing with a joint (though wine-time is a common subject). As long as there is a taboo surrounding the use of marijuana, mothers everywhere will be concerned with showing support for responsible use for fear of being labeled a poor parent.
What we should concern ourselves with is the condition of our schools. With our federal budget stretched extremely thin, many aspects of the educational system will suffer, beginning with areas focused on creative development (music and art classes, for example), despite evidence showing the overall success of children who are taught creative expression during important developmental stages (Kohl, MaryAnn F). By legalizing marijuana here in Colorado, we are “dog earing” the first $40 million generated by tax revenue to go straight toward the construction of better Colorado schools (Stiffler, Christoper). I believe that any mother would support investing in their child’s education, and marijuana legalization will encourage just that.
Recent legislation to regulate marijuana has definitely caused concern for many Americans, but for many more we see it as progress. It can help the nation financially and serve as an important mechanism toward removing the substance from minors’ hands. While there are many benefits to the legalization and taxation of marijuana, the concerns many Americans have about it can create barriers which will keep us from fully understanding the many advantages. It is my hope to be able to defuse some of the uncertainties surrounding marijuana use, so that more people can make a stance based on information rather than fear.