Nicotine Bans & The Future of Marijuana

If you’ve been watching the news or have been on social media in the past month, it is very likely that you heard about congress raising the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. President Trump issued his own ban which prohibited the sale of flavored e-cigarette pods except for the flavors of menthol and tobacco, according to the Washington Post. Up until a few years ago, further restrictions on nicotine access were not even something that was discussed.  However, more and more regulations are being placed on smoking and vaping.

Intertwined with the new age on the sale of tobacco products, is the legalization of marijuana. Recreational marijuana is currently legal in 11 states and the D.O.C, however medical marijuana is legal in 33 states plus the D.O.C. Another 15 states have decriminalized marijuana use which is a step between identifying marijuana as an illegal substance and legalization. The legalization of marijuana has been promoted as a potential cause for extreme economic growth on the state and federal levels. Jobs would be needed in order to grow weed and sell it in dispensaries.  Several other pros for legalization include a potential ending for racially disproportionate arrests for marijuana consumption or distribution. The U.S. prison system has operated on a policy of mandatory minimums for crimes relating to drugs. Some of these minimum drug sentences can be up to 15 years for a first offense. The first arrest on a marijuana charge carries up to one year in jail and a 1,000 dollar fine. The years and fines keep growing larger as offenses stack up. According to the ACLU and The New Jim Crow, “Just under half of the million and a half annual arrests for non-violent drug violations are for marijuana. Because the vast majority of drug arrests are for non-violent offenses, this means that marijuana use is responsible for close to one half of this country's ‘drug problem.’” If this is true, the war on drugs started by President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan in the 1980's would fizzle out, potentially decreasing the disproportionate number of arrests of people of color.

There are both pros and cons to the legalization of marijuana. One prominent con is not having a determinant test to prove driving under the influence, like a breathalyzer.  However, with recreational legalization, the stigma associated with marijuana may start to decrease and the use of weed as an anxiety-reducing pain reliever would take control as the lead narrative.  The raised age on the sale of nicotine potentially points in the direction that individuals in congress and around the country are preparing to federally legalize recreational (and/or medical) marijuana. 

21st birthdays are about to become a lot more interesting...