Lara Murray, Contributing Writer |
“What’s your relationship with marijuana? Is it a political interest? Is it a personal interest?” That’s the question Dr. La Venia asked students at the start of his lecture to get a better idea of why they came. As it turns out, most of the students came to learn about the justice aspect of marijuana. The College Democrats Club orchestrated a series on Substance Use and Legalization this semester. Cannabis Legalization was its closing lecture. This is a pretty good way to end their series since marijuana was just legalized last year, it’s new and college students want to know more about it.
Dr. La Venia from the Political Science Department held a presentation where he talked about the basics of marijuana laws in the US from past to present actions. He even included his personal experience as to why he was supportive of the legalization of marijuana. Veina was attending high school at the peak of the War on Drugs. It was a very controversial topic. His school would have people come to their classes to explain why they shouldn’t do drugs, the danger of them, and answer the kids’ questions. Venia even asked his parents what they thought, and they said, “Don’t do drugs and be safe.” But the more Venia paid attention to the news coverage, the more he realized how crazy it was. He felt the criminalization of the drug was doing more harm and influencing the fear of the public. He felt it was going to make things worse in society. As it turns out, he wasn’t wrong. Bill Clinton passed the crime bill that expanded the prison system due to the number of people the police were bringing in with enough marijuana to get them arrested.
Little did they know but the Drug War and crime bill gave people the wrong idea of our diverse communities. Within their state of panic, people started saying marijuana and more dangerous drugs were being brought into our country by immigrants. Leading to a rise of racism and blame in Spanish, even Black communities. Veina saw it as one big mess. He wasn’t the only one who felt the drug criminalization was a mistake. As time would have it, people were starting to speak up about the injustice and absurdity the law enforcement system was taking because of marijuana. “I got involved with a bunch of activist movements in the early ’90s, early 2000s,” said Dr. Veina. One of these well-known movements was led by the Green Party which called for the legalization of marijuana and getting rid of the Drug War.
As we see, the past has many faults. All they wanted was to keep people safe, but by scaring them and making things worse. The type of drug you consume in your body is important. Drug abuse and addiction are real, but that’s when self-control is needed. Another rise in drug scare came when the Opium drug was exposed. And to this day, people say the usage of marijuana as gotten worse since its legalization. People say it’s causing more car crashes and poisoning cities’ air. They’re always been disagreements and fears about the use of drugs, especially marijuana. We’re all entitled to our opinion, but the actions we take because of that need to be looked at. That is the only way we can have a happier future.