As this fall semester comes to an end, so too does my semester-long discussion of “If California Should Legalize Marijuana for Recreational Use”. This project has given me opportunity to grow as a writer and become more informed about a topic that is extremely relevant and really interests me. Those who have kept up with the recent marijuana news know that Prop 61 has passed and recreational marijuana use is now legal in the state of California. In my final post, I want to address the questions that both sides of issue have of, “Now what? What happens next?”
Though marijuana laws are becoming very lenient and smoking weed is becoming more and more accepted in society, this may not be necessarily true in the workplace. According to Samantha Masunaga, a contact reporter for the LA Times, “… the new law states that employers still have the right to maintain a drug- and alcohol-free workplace and can keep policies that prohibit the use of cannabis by employees and prospective workers,” meaning that marijuana use in the in the workplace is up to the discretion of the employers. Medical and recreational users alike can still be discriminated against during the hiring process and fired for failing company-issued drug tests. This law can have a negative impact on one-time users, or “one-hit-wonders” as I like to call them, who are applying for jobs and take part in drug screenings as marijuana can be present in the urine and saliva for as long as several days to few weeks even after a one-time use.
This causes an issue and contradiction where someone can be discriminated against by law for exercising a freedom they are allowed under the same law. I urge supporters of Prop 61 and members of the state congress to resolve this issue and revise the law to provide a fair chance for many young American marijuana consumers looking for work. There is no easy solution to this issue. I understand both sides as it is fair for employers to not want their employees to be high at work, but it is unfair for those employees and applicants to be punished for consuming a legal substance. Personally, I would suggest for employers to enact a zero-tolerance policy in regards to being high at work, although admittedly this would be hard to judge. Another suggestion would be for employers to completely ignore traces of marijuana in drug tests and crack down harder on illegal substances instead. There are obviously pros and cons of applying this policy as with any policy, but again there is no easy solution and I will leave the changing of laws to the elected officials who we pay to do so.
Another issue with Prop 64 is that while smoking marijuana is legal, users will have a hard time finding a place to do so. This problem has already arose in Colorado as David Kelly, quoting Denver restaurant owner, Daniel Landes, says, “You have people coming to Denver to enjoy legal pot, and they have had no place to use it,” as recreational marijuana use is confined to private property. Along with public spaces, many business owners have prohibited the use of marijuana on their private properties. What I suggest is that marijuana-friendly business owners, especially owners of bars and restaurants, create a way to generate revenue off marijuana users; perhaps charging customers who are looking to smoke on their property. Here in California, several marijuana industry business owners have already invested their money into smoking lounges and bars where customers are provided a comfortable space to kickback, relax, and smoke legal marijuana. A potential danger that arises from smoking weed in these bars, lounges, or restaurants is that these places encourage these customers to become extremely high by providing a safe place to smoke; and after these customers are done they then hit the road with their impaired driving. As I addressed in my previous post, high driving is a serious issue with potentially fatal consequences and should not be taken lightly.
In all honesty, inside I knew since the beginning of this project that Prop 64 was going to pass, especially with our state’s long liberal history with marijuana and the support of new young voters; however, I did not realize how delicate an issue of recreational marijuana is. The legalization of recreational marijuana is not the end of the discussion whether or not weed is good or bad for society, but rather the beginning of a statewide experiment whose results will answer that question. I urge to all you fellow smokers, new and old, to smoke responsibly because just as Prop 64 was passed, it can be easily repealed and all the freedoms we have fought for can be taken away. Also, do not think that just because recreational marijuana is now legal the fight is over and we can just sit back and smoke til our lungs run out of breath. We have to continue to raise awareness and encourage responsible use and condemn abuse. We have to put pressure on our elected officials to continue editing and revising marijuana laws so that they are fair and represent the wishes of the people. Finally, we have to set the precedent of how society exercises this new freedom and ensure that future generations have an example to look toward when they spark their first joints. To question of “What now? What comes next?” that I posed at the beginning of this post, I’ll tell you what: fun times and good highs. As long as we act responsibly, even with my bloodshot eyes and clouds of smoke all around me, the future is looking pretty bright if you ask me.