Temple University Black Public Relations Society hosted The Media Cypher in the Howard Gittis Student Center. The event allowed for an open analysis and discussion on the controversial topic of marijuana legalization and its media coverage in the United States.
Now that twenty states plus the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in some capacity, many want to learn as much as they can about the drug. Considering the many differing opinions surrounding marijuana, an event such as The Media Cypher provided an excellent opportunity for students to discuss a controversial issue in an accepting atmosphere.
Topics of discussion ranged from the recent Justin Bieber arrest and the ensuing scandal to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington.
Soon all citizens of Pennsylvania will be hearing a lot more about this issue since the state recently held hearings for the bipartisan Senate Bill 1182, known as the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act. The hearing, held on January 28th, was the first such hearing to discuss the issue of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania’s history. This hearing is far from the laws that have been passed in Colorado and Washington that legalized recreational use of marijuana. However, if PA were to follow suit and pass legislation legalizing marijuana some think use of the drug would actually decrease:
“I don’t think marijuana will be that big of a deal if it is legalized,” one member of the audience said, “Teenagers drink because they want to be rebellious, same with weed. It wouldn’t be as popular as it is today [if it were legalized].”
Colorado and Washington State famously became the first to officially legalize the recreational use of cannabis sativa (the scientific name for marijuana) propelling the issue of marijuana into the national media. However, this argument has been circulating in living rooms and courtrooms for generations.
Cannabis sativa was made illegal throughout the United States in 1937, but as early as 1996, when California legalized medical marijuana, states have been disregarding federal law to satisfy their constituents. Since then nineteen additional states as well as Washington D.C. have followed California’s lead by legalizing marijuana for medicinal use. Furthermore, seventeen states have decriminalized marijuana, making charges for possession of the drug similar to a traffic violation.
“California, Oregon, Massachusetts, as well as multiple southern states are attempting further changes regarding their policies on marijuana,” TUBPR President Jennifer Burroughs comments, “Watch out for 2016 when these states are pushing for the laws to be passed.”
Note: The ideas expressed in this article are not the ideas of Temple Update as a publication, merely the reporting of thoughts expressed at The Media Cypher.