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YouSpeak: Legalizing Marijuana

Today marks unofficial holiday for drug’s advocates


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Today, April 20, has special significance for marijuana users. The term “420” was allegedly coined back in 1971 when a group of San Rafael, Calif., high school students decided to meet up at 4:20 one afternoon to smoke a joint. The term stuck and quickly became shorthand for lighting up. In a nod to 420, proponents of the drug have unofficially declared April 20 a cannabis holiday.

In light of today’s date, we thought we’d make this week’s “YouSpeak” question: “Should marijuana be legalized?”

YouSpeak” appears each Monday.

If you have a suggestion for a question we should ask, post it in the comments section below.

Joseph Chan can be reached at joechan@bu.edu. Devin Hahn can be reached at dhahn@bu.edu.


27 Comments on YouSpeak: Legalizing Marijuana

  • Go read for yourself on 04.20.2011 at 4:18 am


    Clearly all drugs should be legal and if marijuana needs to be first in line then so be it. It is an injustice to lock away anyone for doing something that hurts nobody. If as a responsible adult I want to drink alcohol, smoke weed, snort coke, or do heroin then it is my business and nobody else’s either. It certainly should not be the governments. If I do any of the above drugs and then proceed to do something that hurts someone else then charge me for that crime; not because I did a drug that was subjectively made illegal. For those who think that the health care costs mediate the illegality of drugs then I say put your money where your mouth is and make alcohol and cigarettes illegal otherwise do not argue that point like it matters at all to you. Also you should think about creating a law that makes the consumption of fast food beyond a certain limit a criminal offence. Cardiovascular diseases are a number one killer and they are prominently due to poor diet and lack of exercise. So who gets to arbitrarily decide which things are ok and which things are not because these laws are not based on anything to do with the scientific method of investigating truth so that we can determine what is best. Certain people have decided what is best for everyone else based on opinion, feelings, authoritative persuasion, and most of all, ignorance. Personally I do not abide by laws when they need not apply and I fortunately can safely judge that for myself as an adult. I therefore occasionally jay-walk, run red lights at 3am, in clearly deserted intersections, and smoke weed, and alcohol is by far the most dangerous drug I do…yea that makes sense through my sarcasm. Should I be a criminal because other people are afraid I might hurt someone else? No, because your fear is not a justified reason for me being put away at least in a rational society, not this one. When I do something that hurts someone else or something that is highly likely to hurt someone else then I think it is sensible to intervene, e.g. someone shooting a gun off in a crowded mall without the intention to hit anyone…not a good idea. Bottom line, if I have a) done nothing to hurt anyone else and b) not put others in a situation where the risk of harm has significantly increased then it is all good in the hood. Anyways I have made my point but if/when it is challenged try to be aware of fallacious arguments.

  • EgadsNo on 04.20.2011 at 5:22 am


    and we should eliminate the Drug Control budget. 2012 budget will be 26.2 Billion. (A raise) Good time to cut education, healthcare, infrastructure, military right?

    The people who cry the sky is falling the worst are also the people in this section of the budget not surprising:

    Prevention 1.682BILLION +7.9%
    Treatment 8.982 BILLION +1.1%
    Domestic Law Enforcement 9.505 BILLION +3.4%
    Interdiction 3.901 BILLION +6.6%
    International 2.138 BILLION -17.6%

  • Anonymous on 04.20.2011 at 5:47 am

    Also, research has shown that the criminalization of marijuana actually increases its use and puts billions in the hands of drug cartels and organized crime groups each year. If marijuana were decriminalized across the country, the government could tax it, the black market for it would collapse (and subsequently decrease crime surrounding the control of the drug and the fight over customers) and would even limit the influence and power of transnational organized crime groups. In addition, to say that you want to raise your child in a drug-free climate is a legitimate claim, therefore consumers should be required by law to be at least 17 in order to purchase, grow, or use marijuana. I’m not sure that marijuana should be legal, but it should be decriminalized for it could rake in billions in taxes every year and decrease both national and transnational crime.

  • Anonymous on 04.20.2011 at 6:19 am

    Provide me with one logical reason why it was made illegal to begin with and I’ll give you a dollar.

  • Anonymous on 04.20.2011 at 7:04 am

    Of course weed should be legal.

    Cannabis prohibition is a crime against humanity. I’ll spare you the usual bullshit: that it’s safer than existing legal drugs, that it can be used as a medicine, that it can be used for environmentally friendly fuel and plastics, that it would deal an enormous blow to organized crime and save taxpayers billions of dollars, etc, etc. Because all of that is utterly superfluous.

    The real issue is one of personal freedom. As an adult and US citizen, I have the right to choose what goes in my body. The government doesn’t get to tell me what I can or can’t eat, drink, or smoke, and apparently they don’t have the power to stop me either.

    Bottom line: I like smoking weed. If it’s doing damage to my body I’ll start baking brownies or vaporizing or even quit altogether. What I will NOT do is quit because the government threatens to throw me in a cage if I don’t. That is fascism.

  • snk on 04.20.2011 at 7:20 am

    Legalize it

    My personal feelings about marijuana aside (can’t stand it), I say the US states should legalize the drug and tax it the same way they tax cigarettes and alcohol.

    It is true that use would probably increase, (by whom and how much, I don’t know), but I believe the potential benefits for the US and our neighboring countries far outweigh the effects. Legalizing MJ means the government can regulate it — thereby reducing or eliminating the risk smoking a batch that has been contaminated with other drugs or the “superweed” with exceptionally high THC levels. Gov’t controlled marijuana can also be a source of revenue because although they would need to enploy workers to regulate the substance, these jobs would be traded for the excess of police and border patrol agents who spend a significant amount of time arresting people on marijuana charges.

    Legalize the drug and the illegal demand for it will dry up — who wants to risk arrest for buying something illegally that they can easily get at CVS? If the illegal demand for it decreases, then the profits stop funding violent drug cartels and reduces the exploitation and violence associated with the trade. I’d say that’s a positive effect.

    I understand that all the proponents of DARE and “Just Say No” are going jump at my throat now, but having gone through both those programs at school, I can attest that they were a pretty poor preventative measure. And honestly, the drug that makes people giggle and sit on a couch and eat chips is not and has never been the grave threat it’s been thought to be.

  • Our friend Bob on 04.20.2011 at 8:18 am

    So… some people say yes to legalization and some say no. I agree with stoner #3.

    • Kayle Audriiee on 07.21.2014 at 9:44 am

      Agreed. Legalize it.

  • Anonymous on 04.20.2011 at 8:46 am

    Notice how all the people who supports legalization appear informed and knowledgable of facts whereas all the prohibitionists come off as being completely uninformed?

    And to the cutie at 0:22, 420 and snuggle?

  • Anonymous on 04.20.2011 at 8:51 am

    No, as much as I like it once in a while, it would slow the whole country down if it were to be legalized. Workers would be more unproductive, etc etc.

  • Anonymous on 04.20.2011 at 9:17 am


    What is that hipster woman even talking about???

  • Anonymous on 04.20.2011 at 9:42 am

    I don’t think you got a large distribution from the BU population. I think you told those kids to say no. That’s all you gotta say. 4-20 4 EVAH

  • Anonymous on 04.20.2011 at 9:42 am

    No legalization for our children's sake

    According to the Partnership for a Drug Free America, there has been a consistent softening in attitudes and beliefs by teens, on the danger of trying and using alcohol and drugs. Many things contribute to this, including de-criminalization, which teens mistakenly associate with legalization. A softening of social attitudes has led to an increase in adolescent beliefs about the social acceptability of drinking and using drugs. The new trends indicate that the decade long decline in alcohol and drug use may be reversing. In Massachusetts the decriminalization of Marijuana by the courts has mistakenly given teens the idea that Marijuana is legal. Obviously, the de-criminalization is about unclogging our court systems, and does not represent legalization. However, the perceptions of teens are reversing the previous years’ declines and have caused illegal drug use and personal risks to now increase.
    Studies show that marijuana and drugs retard mental functions causing distorted perceptions, difficulty thinking, and loss of coordination, increased heart rate, anxiety, and paranoia and panic attacks. There are a number of studies showing that chronic marijuana use increases anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and schizophrenia .
    The smoke from marijuana is stronger than tobacco smoke; plus, drug users tend to inhale more deeply and also smoke cigarettes. Cancer of the lungs may also be promoted by marijuana smoke. Marijuana increases the likelihood of developing cancer, and the more marijuana smoked, the greater the increase.
    Health effects are also caused by the main ingredient Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) because it impairs the immune system. In experiments that exposed animal and human cells to THC, normal immune system responses were inhibited, and led to infections and tumors. –
    A new study by Demirakca et al. (2011) shows that Cannabis users show lower gray matter volume in a cluster of the right anterior hippocampus which suggests neurotoxic effects of THC . The legalization of Marijuana will have a negative impact on our young people and the focus instead should align with the Presidents Obama’s new plan to decrease substance abuse in adolescent by fifteen percent by utilizing community support.

  • Anonymous on 04.20.2011 at 10:31 am

    Other drugs that are far more dangerous than marijuana are marketed aggressively on TV and through other mediums. We give amphetamines to children who have a hard time paying attention in school. Ambien has side effects that would make most pot-smokers extremely nervous. Even if marijuana IS dangerous it still doesn’t make sense to ban it when you consider how dangerous some prescription drugs are.

  • Anonymous on 04.20.2011 at 10:52 am

    Only one problem... DUI

    I have no problem with people who would like to use cannabis. However, there is so field sobriety check or blood test that can screen if a person is under the influence in the past few hours. Current test show only HIGH levels (daily users) THC for the past week. As anyone who has used cannabis knows, reaction time is slower and judgment is impaired for a few hours. How do we control the DUI if you have no proof of current use? Keeping people safe needs to come first. Develop a current use test and I have no problem with legalization.

  • - from mugar on 04.20.2011 at 11:16 am

    re: children's sake

    I agree with parents fears that their children will be more likely to ultimately try marijuana for the first time if the drug becomes legalized and therefore more likely to continue smoking, but you should not force the federal government to do what you should be doing yourself as a parent. If you don’t want your children doing drugs, then talk to them. Alcohol is legal and it didn’t stop many people from drinking when they were younger, and for many in high school is was much more common and easy to gain access to alcohol – now tell me how many people you know of dying every year from alcohol and how many die from smoking too much pot…..If you are worried of the side effects that smoking may cause your kids, such as anxiety, depression, etc then these are think that you should TALK to your children about and then let the rest of those who consciously and willingly choose to smoke the continue to do so in the serenity of their own homes. Speaking of the drug free partnership, the commenter repeatedly equates marijuana with drugs, which although it is classified as one we all know it is a plant where as many much more dangerous drugs are synthesized, and alcohol which is NOTHING like marijuana. To combat the problems of drugs and alcohol in America, specifically amongst teens, is the most broad term I have ever seen and by clumping them all together you are missing the big picture. When anyone can show me statistics on the number of people who have died from smoking weed, then we can talk. And if you are worried that your children will be more likely to try newer drugs because of the legalization of marijuana, then again talk to them. If it becomes a legal substance that is regulated then they may have no interest in breaking the law the try other drugs that are completely different from pot. All this being said, I have no way of comprehending the political, social and economic changes that would come about from the legalization of marijuana and I really can’t fathom the way it would change things. For now, I’m pretty content knowing that I can smoke in the privacy of my own home if I want to, and could even walk down the street smoking a personal j and all I would face is the equivalent of a parking ticket…seems like we’re getting there to me. Lastly, if you were to tell your children one thing, I would suggest that they never pick up alcohol as it is the one substance that continues to truly harm our children and society in general as a highly addictive and damaging substance.

  • joey on 04.20.2011 at 11:16 am

    to:No leglization 4 our children's sake

    to “no legalization for our children’s sake”. you write like you know what you are talking about. You quoted one study Demirakca et al. did you even read it? I read it and it isn’t saying that marijuana was bad, while it does say in it that THC MAY show a neurotoxic effect the study was done to test the effects of cannaboidal for clinical use in hippocampal neurogenesis. do you know what that means? probably too big of a word for you. in other words its helping to make neurons grow. you also quoted that there are many studies showing that it causes shizophrenia etc. and that it retards mental functions..DUH!!! it gets you high, obviously you have never smoked it and don’t know what you are talking about. the symptoms you listed are what you feel when you are high…panic attacks:you get paranoid when you’re high. No one has ever died, in the history of the earth, from smoking pot. You are misinformed and have no experience. Show me the studies where it causes cancer, show me the studies where someone dies. It isn’t even half as bad as cigarettes or alcohol. you keep saying cancer this and cancer that….Wheres the proof. There is no evidence of anything that you are saying. BTW maybe you should take a look at the causes of cancer, you can get cancer from having too much acid reflux, too much sun, too much anything. don’t try and scare everyone with your jargon like you know what you are talking about. you are trying to use scare tactics and jargon to mislead people. you don’t know anything and want to look like you do. Why don’t you try it and then comment on it because you are quoting things and trying to put an opinion on things that you have no idea about. get informed and not mislead you square.

  • Anonymous on 04.20.2011 at 11:35 am

    i think they probably went through like 200 people to find the few anti-legalization viewpoints.

  • w2lucky on 04.20.2011 at 11:36 am

    Makes some $$$ from it.

    Why not decriminalize it and start making some money from it, instead of dumping millions into enforcing a law that clearly can’t be enforced? I’ve never met anyone that wanted to smoke that was kept from smoking because of the law. Sound familiar? Yes, the “prohibition era”. Time to wake up and get smart.

  • Anonymous on 04.20.2011 at 12:01 pm

    Legalizing weed would NOT slow the whole country down. When weed was legal in our country, we were quite productive. In fact, weed use has only increased since prohibition.

    Drug prohibition is not the answer. the Drug war is doing more harm than good, and we should approach drugs from a public health framework, not a criminal justice one.

  • Greenfather on 04.20.2011 at 12:21 pm

    moral majority are perpetuating elicit behavior

    Here’s why weed should be legal.

    It’s a significant source of revenue for organized crime. Legalize it, tax it like tobacco (we need the tax revenue) and at the same time weaken criminal elements. We could even take part of the revenue to educate folks about the problems associated with smoking weed – like we do with tobacco. Thus, potentially decreasing usage.

    Despite what the moral majority says, countries where it’s been legalized have not gone to hell in a hand-basket. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence suggesting the contrary. I’d even say that other vices such as alcohol and gambling are more damaging to society.

    We have these funny ideas about what should be legal based on largely antiquated, puritanical ideals and beliefs perpetuated by ignorant, agenda driven politicians (mostly from the right) . No politician wants to be painted by their opponents as a trying to corrupt our youth by turning them into drug addicts.

    Legalization won’t happen anytime soon. We have bigger fish to fry as a nation. However, once it is legalized, we should begin legalizing prostitution next, because like weed it’s a issue that’s fueling organized crime. Like weed, it exists. REgulate it, tax it, and provide a degree of safety and education for those who are engaging one of the oldest professions on earth.

    I’d also like to see a politician in this country take that one on.

  • Anonymous on 04.20.2011 at 5:18 pm

    legalize marijuana

    just watch The Union
    then you will realize it should be legalized.

  • Anonymous on 04.20.2011 at 6:12 pm

    People always say “Protect the children.” They’re correct, we should protect the children. Do you rely upon the government to “Protect your children.” Or are you capable of doing it on your own?

  • Anonymous on 04.20.2011 at 7:47 pm

    No Legalfication

    The gosh darn marijawana kills thousands a year. We need to keep locking up them young people to save ’em from theyselves. It don’t matter none if it costs millions a year to enforce cause the marijawana gives all them addicts cancer and overdoses. We shouldn’t put no gosh darn tax on it neither cause taxes and big government are for commies. It also goes against the Bible. Keep up the good work serving our Lord, BUPD/RA’s Office.

    God Bless,
    Pappy Davis

  • The illegality of cannabis is outrageous on 04.20.2011 at 7:48 pm

    All of the following information is from the National Cancer Institute:

    “Among the men who inhaled tobacco either alone or in addition to marijuana, the risk of lung cancer increased tenfold. In the follow-up of men who inhaled marijuana alone, no cases of lung cancer were documented.”

    Cannabinoids selectively destroy ONLY brain cancer cells while actually PROTECTING the healthy/normal cells. From National Cancer Institute: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/healthprofessional/page4

    Hell, even the US GOVERNMENT has a patent using cannabinoids as neuroprotectants/antioxidants: http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/6630507.html

    Despite ALL of the medicinal benefits of using cannabis, it is *still* illegal.

    The list goes on and on. Prohibition doesn’t work; prohibition has never worked (see alcohol prohibition and the rise of the mafia/organized crime). Wake up people, criminalization has done nothing but cost us in millions and ruin lives.

    “The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”

  • Anonymous on 04.21.2011 at 1:43 am


    Most of the arguments against legalization in these comments pertain to youth corruption. Simple solution – slap an 18 and over age on it and call it a day. Weed is actually more accessible to minors because it is illegal. Pharmacies and dispensaries can be regulated. Drug dealers don’t care or need to care about your age, only your money.

    I challenge anyone to ask a handful of high schoolers which is easier to find in this area, alcohol or weed. As a product of the Boston high school system I can save you the time. Weed is everywhere.

  • Terry on 01.20.2012 at 3:24 pm

    A war against a plant against a war against God.

    God gave us all plants plants yielding seed, Genesis 1:29. A war against a plant against a war against God. Based on the laws on marijuana, a natural plant, God is a criminal for production and distribution of an illegal substance. Laws against a plant and natural medicine is a law against God. Marijuana is now known to cure cancer, (See http://www.marijuanaplanet.us/The_Forbidden_Cure_For_Cancer.htm) Who gives these lawmakers the right to forbid the Cure for Cancer and forbid a gift given us by God? Time to stop the madness. Legalize marijuana now! Marijuana is a plant not a drug.

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