The Turning of the Emerald Tide

The Turning of the Emerald Tide
Nick Brothers - The Free Weekly Managing Editor

Nick Brothers
The Free Weekly Managing Editor

I’m sure you’ve heard the news by now. Voters in Alaska, Washington, D.C., and Oregon all voted for the legalization of recreational use of marijuana in their states, and Guam voted to legalize medicinal use. They will join Washington and Colorado after getting the proposed bills approved in each state’s local legislature. On the flip side, Florida citizens voted down the initiative to allow for medicinal use.

For advocates calling for an end of marijuana prohibition, adding in these states and our nation’s capitol is undoubtedly a win.

As a matter of fact, Colorado’s state government just issued a release stating that the tax revenue gained from retail marijuana was in fact much more than anticipated. Because of the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, the government predicted a lower amount of revenue than they received. So, the excess $167.2 million is required to be distributed as a rebate to taxpayers once citizens fill out their taxes. Citizens can also vote to allow the government to keep the money, which would be allocated to their public schools, higher education and infrastructure among other services.

Marijuana, whether medical or recreational in the states, appears to be picking up momentum as a reality in the U.S. Possibly within the next decade.

The people of Arkansas have dipped their toes in legalizing medicinal marijuana use in the past in previous ballot initiatives, but voters have refused to take the plunge into legalization. The proposed statute in 2012 came close, with 51 percent against and 48 percent in favor. The ballot initiative for medical marijuana use for the 2014 mid-term elections only had approximately 80 percent of the 62,507 signatures required. We would be the first state in the South, because Florida voted their law down, to have a legalized marijuana policy enacted.

I did a story about the failed Arkansas medical marijuana ballot initiative this summer. It was then I met T.J. and Ciera, who suffer from debilitating seizures. I was moved by how their mother cared for them in every possible way she could. The only thing left for them to try for treatment was Charlotte’s Web, a special low THC — tetrahydrocannabinol, the natural compound that induces the high — strain of hemp that has proven to be very effective in treating and managing seizures in young children thus far.

Now, I want to remain as objective as I can for you readers, but I find it to be a given right that a mother should have access to use all treatment available for her children. To deny someone of something medically beneficial seems wrong. In defense, as a whole the plant is not an FDA approved medicine. Which, I should mention, is partly because clinical trials are forbidden as marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug, the most dangerous level that prohibits research.

Yet, there are plenty of potentially dangerous and addictive medicines, such as hyrdocodone or Oxycontin, that are legal and reasonably easy to access with a doctor’s prescription. While those painkillers provide a necessary service to those who truly need them, they are also one of the most commonly abused medicines in the U.S., according to

All I’m saying is, shouldn’t the government allow for the best possible care avenues for its citizens? While that may include addictive drugs such as Oxycontin, outright denying research on potentially helpful and safe drugs seem to insult the scientific method of testing a hypothesis.

Overall, the marijuana issue is a terribly convoluted thing. My point with this column is to discuss the realities here surrounding this drug. It’s clear, based on Colorado’s success, that there is plenty of tax revenue to collect. There have been numerous instances thus far collected from states. A survey found 76 percent of doctors approve of the benefits of medical use, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

Regardless of all the “weed culture” surrounding it of Grateful Deadheads, Seth Rogen movies, music festivals, psychedelia and Taco Bell, there’s some pretty clear evidence that this drug might be pretty beneficial. If used recreationally, that’s potentially millions of tax revenue that could be generated. The research is out there, folks. I only scoured to find the tip of the iceberg for this column. All I’m saying with this is, shouldn’t research-based information as well as reputable data be the foundation for an opinion? To hold onto hearsay or fears for arguments is a fool’s errand.

Thanks for reading.

Categories: Commentary