Medical Marijuana

"To pass or not to pass" has become an equally tough question for lawmakers and marijuana smokers.

Conversations over legalization escalate in April as part of National Cannabis Awareness Month.

Keeping with the theme, Illinois State University students debate whether marijuana should be legal in any capacity.

Out of 70 students surveyed, an overwhelming support for both recreational and medicinal legalization surfaced.

Only four students oppose any form of legalization, while 60 students support full legalization. Additionally, six students support strictly prescribed marijuana usage.

Junior dietetics and nutrition major Leslie Kohut shares the majority's viewpoint. Kohut's ultimate goal became helping clinical patients after witnessing her cousin, Talia Freund, battle Ewing's Sarcoma. Freund died at age 14 last April.

"Medically, it is frustrating how, in America, we are pretty far behind with testing for medical purposes," Kohut said. "There are so many countries that are so far ahead and as for recreational use, I believe that it should be okay for people with anxiety or needs to relieve stress."

Kohut has never smoked, nor does she have any desire to start. That said, she notices people close to her receive benefits from marijuana use.

"I am not saying people should be stoned out of their minds every day, but I can see why people use it for pain or relaxation," Kohut explained.

As an Illinois medical marijuana patient, senior horticulture and landscape management major Lane Holland also supports legalizing medical and recreational usage.

He recognizes that cannabis treats an array of medical conditions such as seizures, lupus and muscular dystrophy.

Like Holland, junior elementary education major Madison Stark supports full legalization. Though not a smoker, he realizes the economic benefits.

"If marijuana is legalized, it can be regulated and taxed," Stark said. "They [proper regulatory authorities] have more control over what is in the drug, as well as who has access to it, since drug dealers do not care if a user is 12 or 21."

Additionally, Stark notes that legalizing marijuana allows police departments to focus on deadlier drugs. He recently spoke with a McLean County Board Member about this issue.

During the discussion, Stark learned that some cops will not give a ticket for possession. It is not worth the paperwork for an approximately $100 ticket.

Fellow education major Jenni Tracy concedes that Illinois could economically prosper. However, she does not believe marijuana should be legalized in any capacity.

"People who use frequently often experience dulled senses, which is not helpful," Tracy said. "It also could become an addiction, even if used responsibly, because the person could get addicted to its effects on their mind."

Junior accounting major Allison Murawski also recognizes the importance of putting safety first. Hence, she does not believe marijuana should be legalized for medicinal use without more adequate research.

She also strongly opposes recreational use.

"I just do not believe that drugs should be needed for recreation; I feel the same way about alcohol, which is also a type of drug [alcohol is classified as a depressant]," Murawski said.

The marijuana legalization debate will roll beyond April. A bill that creates the Marijuana Legalization Referendum Act was assigned to the executive committee on March 21. The process could carry into the Nov. 6 general election.

STUART STALTER is a Features Reporter for The Vidette. He can be contacted at sstalt1@ilstu.edu Follow him on Twitter at @VidetteStuS

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