#FOCUSDEMOCRACY: Marijuana – What Do Students Think?

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Published November 2, 2020
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The Montclarion
Even if marijuana is legalized, students will be unable to smoke legally on campus, due to Montclair State University's tobacco-free campus initiative. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

A question given to all New Jersey residents on this year’s ballot for the 2020 election is whether or not to legalize marijuana. Since most students at Montclair State University are presumably over 18 years old, those who are New Jersey residents have the power to vote for change.

Although Gov. Phil Murphy has been pushing for the plant to be legalized, Therese Bailey, a freshman film major, voiced her concerns about marijuana.

“I personally do not think it is a good idea,” Bailey said. “Weed is a gateway drug into far more dangerous drugs.”

Tatiana Cook, a junior at Montclair State University, sitting off Bloomfield Ave

Tatiana Cook, a junior at Montclair State University, believes that the legalization of marijuana will help people incarcerated for smoking.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

While Bailey possesses a dissenting opinion on the matter, that does not seem to be the case for most students. Tatiana Cook, a junior art and illustration major, thinks that marijuana should be legalized in New Jersey.

“I think it is a good idea because a lot of people get charged for it when it’s not causing harm to anyone else,” Cook said. “If weed was treated like alcohol and had the same laws in place, a lot of people would not be in jail or kicked out of school because of it.”

Meghan Loeffe, a sophomore family science and human development major, agrees that marijuana should become legal.

“I also think that weed kind of has a negative connotation, as some people think it is a gateway drug, but alcohol can be even worse, especially long term,” Loeffe said. “I think weed should have been legalized by now, as long as you use it properly just like with alcohol.”

Angel Hernandez, a freshman pre-major, is furious that marijuana is still illegal in 2020.

“It was illegalized because of racist and social economic issues,” Hernandez said. “It is propaganda.”

Angel Hernandez, a freshman at Montclair State University, ominously sitting down.

Angel Hernandez, a freshman at Montclair State University, believes that marijuana should be legalized.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

The issue of legalizing marijuana is not so black and white; there is a gray area for students who see both sides of the coin.

Je’Anna Cadavid, a freshman art and illustration major, is one of these people.

“I think there’s overall positive upbringings, reducing crime rates, [it] helps medically, [it] can create businesses and jobs for those looking to sell THC and [marijuana] products around the state,” Cadavid said.

But Cadavid also has concerns about what may happen if marijuana is legalized.

Je’Anna Cadavid in downtown New York City

Je’Anna Cadavid can see the positives and negatives of the legalization of marijuana.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

“I can understand people being worried that [other] people will just go around being high and getting themselves in trouble,” Cadavid said. “[But], I think with proper precautions, it could be an overall great thing.”

It turns out that many students shared viewpoints that aligned with Cadavid’s statement, including Eleni Marakis, a sophomore family science and human development major.

“As long as there are regulations so that underage [people] cannot get into it and things like that, I see no problem with it,” Marakis said.

Legalizing marijuana in New Jersey is not as simple as flipping a switch; there are many steps to reverse its illegality. Right now, in New Jersey, marijuana is decriminalized. Gov. Murphy has made it so those found in possession of marijuana receive a $50 fine, instead of being incriminated.

Rebecca Kobik, a freshman television media major, may have said it best.

 

“Regardless of whether it’s legal or not, kids and adults alike will find a way to get a hold of weed,” Kobik said.

Gov. Murphy has been pushing for New Jersey residents to vote “Yes” for the legalization of marijuana on this year’s election ballot, shown by the tremendous support he received on his “Legalize It” Instagram post.

Even if marijuana is legalized in New Jersey, students will not be able to smoke it on campus, as Montclair State is a “Tobacco Free Campus,” and strictly prohibits smoking, vaping and tobacco.

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