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With Ohio’s House of Representatives recently passing a bill for medical marijuana use in a bipartisan vote, and California taking measures toward full marijuana legalization with the coming election, this year is certain to be a big one for the rapidly growing marijuana industry. Tables are turning with more people in support of marijuana legalization in some form or another: rather it be for medical applications, textiles and industrial uses, or just recreation. But where does your state stand?Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania May Be Next to Legalize Marijuana

If you’re in Florida, Pennsylvania, or Ohio, it looks like your peers are in favor of marijuana legalization for recreational use. This comes after a poll determined more than half of the voters in each of those states supported allowing small amounts of marijuana for personal use.

The exact numbers? 56 percent of voters in Florida, 52 percent of Ohio voters, and 57 percent of Pennsylvanian voters, according to the poll done by Quinnipiac University.

So what does that mean for you? Is a new marijuana dispensary going to open up on every corner like Starbucks soon? Will the scent of weed permeate the streets of your neighborhood?

Oh no- what will happen to the Cheetos at your local convenience store, or the line at Taco Bell?!

Well, nothing, probably. In fact, the regulations concerning marijuana growth, purchase, and use are akin to those for alcohol use in most states where recreational marijuana use is already legalized. Hawaii was the first state to raise the legal smoking age to 21 as it legalized medical marijuana, California followed in its footsteps ahead of a predicted legalization of marijuana use in November.

What Does Marijuana Legalization Mean?Other restrictions include who can actually gain access to marijuana, as some states have only legalized medical cannabis and cannabis oil. To reduce abuse of medical marijuana, marijuana dispensaries require special identification cards and prescriptions.

States where recreational marijuana use is legal limit where smoking is allowed as well as the quantity one is allowed to possess. Sale of marijuana requires proper licensing- Hawaii recently denied Woody Harrelson’s application to open his own dispensary. So no, legalization won’t result in crazed pot smokers taking over the country.

Yet.

What it could mean is a solution (albeit, not the best) to the opioid abuse epidemic affecting the country. With marijuana as a viable alternative to powerful pain medications, the medical industry can finally move away from dangerous opioid drugs like Fentanyl, which is credited for the sudden increase in overdose deaths.

With medical marijuana legalization we can see the rate of overdose deaths caused by prescription drug abuse plummet, or even become a thing of the past. Unfortunately, with recreational use, we may still see instances of medical emergencies caused by the addition of illicit drugs in the street market- cocaine, heroin, Fentanyl, and the like. Perhaps with the ability to buy marijuana from a legal establishment people will be less likely to tempt fate with suspicious products from the underground drug market.

Could Marijuana Solve Ohio's Opioid Abuse Problem? Not in the Long TermHowever, marijuana is still an addictive substance. It may seem like the lesser of two evils, but for some, marijuana use can lead to experimentation with other, stronger, more dangerous substances. Alcohol has proven to be a greater gateway drug than marijuana, yes, but that doesn’t mean marijuana legalization is without its dangers.

Additionally, with people continually looking for ways to enhance their high, marijuana use and smoking can get dangerous fairly quickly. Dabbing is one such dangerous method used by the naive and adventurous.

It involves a steel or plastic pipe, butane, and a blowtorch, so it’s pretty unsurprising that things can go wrong in an instant.

Rather the benefits outweigh the risks has been up for debate for years- and it will be up for debate again come Election Day in November. I urge you to think carefully before you cast your vote either way.

Additional Reading:

Marijuana: What’s the Difference? Indica Vs. Sativa

DEA Considering Changing Marijuana’s Status as A Schedule I Drug

Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders: The 5 Most Common Combinations

The Impact of Drugs in Underprivileged Communities

Do you think the benefits of legalizing marijuana outweigh the risks? Comment below with your thoughts!

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