Decriminalization versus legalization of marijuana


"Medical Marijuana Dispensary" by KayVee.INC

Thinking that marijuana has been legalized when it is only been decriminalized is a harmful misconception that could get you in lots of trouble.

Chances are, you’ve probably been hearing the word, “decriminalization,” going around a lot. Many of us know it’s about marijuana, and some may be thinking that means legalization, but that is a very bad misconception. First things first, marijuana is not legalized in Louisiana, but that does not mean it won’t ever be in the future. Furthermore, if a state is going to take steps to decriminalize marijuana, they should simply legalize it at that point. Here’s what to look out for to know the difference and to understand why legalization should be the only option.

First, before we discuss what the federal government is doing in terms of legalizing marijuana nationwide, we need to discuss some technical terms and what they mean for us now. According to the ThoughCo website, known for its information-based content and educational sources, decriminalization is a very specific law regarding the encounter of marijuana in a state where it is not legal to consume or produce the substance.

“Decriminalization is a loosening of criminal penalties imposed for personal marijuana use even though the manufacturing and sale of the substance remain illegal.” So no, you cannot buy marijuana anywhere in the state, nor legally consume it. Now say you are found with it in your possession, depending on the amount and what you have, you will not be punished for it, or put on trial by it alone. If you were speeding when you were pulled over and they suspect you possess marijuana, the police officer should not search your car for possession of marijuana. You still might get a speeding ticket though.

When it comes to the legalization of marijuana, “legalization allows the government to regulate and tax marijuana use and sales.” It also means, “Legalization… is the lifting or abolishment of laws banning the possession and personal use of marijuana.” Now for the government to regulate marijuana, it is a very big yes in my opinion and for good reason.

In states where marijuana is illegal, the consumption of marijuana is unsafe for many reasons being that you do not know what the person who is producing the substance is doing to grow and sell their product. The illegal consumption of marijuana is something I highly recommend not doing for many reasons beyond it simply being illegal. There are many instances when marijuana is unsafe for consumption being that it has been “laced” or “spiked” with another substance of choice. This is very dangerous for obvious reasons.

The government regulation of marijuana is very important for the reason that the marijuana will be supervised, grown healthy and safe, and more importantly, it should not ever be laced with another substance or chemical unknowingly. The types of strains of marijuana are then able to be distinguished safely and easily as well, and someone can benefit very much from knowing what strain of marijuana they are consuming because they do in fact do different things.

Vox news says, “Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana remains classified as a Schedule 1 illegal drug with no medical uses, on par with heroin and LSD.” So thinking that marijuana has been legalized when it has only been decriminalized is a harmful misconception that could get you in lots of trouble both on a legal level and a personal level.

In the state of Louisiana, it is not safe to buy or sell or consume marijuana by any means unless you have a medical card or pardon to do so. And unless you are above the age of 21, it is not legal for you to consume marijuana in any state. But assuming it has been decriminalized in your state only, it feels as if the government is turning a blind eye to the obvious distribution and market revolving around illegal marijuana.

I would almost go as far as to state that decriminalizing Mariana is asking for the state government to endorse the illegal distribution of Mariana, and not care about the dangers of the process. Are they simply too divided to work together and choose to regulate and profit hugely from an untapped market of dangerous “drugs”?

There are many differing opinions regarding decriminalization versus legalization, but I stand firm in my belief that a state should always legalize before decriminalizing, not the other way around. Decriminalization alone is a fantastic thing, and is a great pardon on the part of the legal system, but the implications of it alone make the entire process tricky and confusing for many reasons.

Now as I speak, the house passed a bill to legalize marijuana nationwide, and it had officially gone to the Senate for review. From NBC news we know, “The House passed legislation Friday that would legalize marijuana nationwide, eliminating criminal penalties for anyone who manufactures, distributes or possesses the substance.”

As for the status of the senate in this matter, “Prospects for passing such a bill in the Senate appear to be low because Democrats would need all of their members and 10 Republicans to overcome a 60-vote hurdle needed to advance to a final vote.”

Barrons, a financial stock-based news organization aimed at helping investors make the right choice, says “The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration, where it faces an uncertain fate.” History has repeated itself again, but maybe the tides have changed. “In 2020, a similar bill passed the House but stalled in the upper chamber after failing to garner sufficient support.”