Marijuana legalization debate - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

Marijuana legalization debate

Posted: Updated:

Amarillo, TX -- Legalizing marijuana has now become a topic of discussion after Colorado and Washington became the first states to do so this year.

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia, and on November 7th, voters in Colorado and Washington elected to decriminalize recreational use of the drug.

Some say marijuana is harmless, and the fact that it's illegal only propagates the criminal activity associated with it.  Others say marijuana is illegal for good reason, and making it legal would only open the door to more social ills.

Proponents of legalization argue marijuana is not a dangerous substance and that nonviolent minor drug offenders do not belong in the criminal justice system, as Amarillo attorney Jeff Blackburn says,"We have wasted too much money, too much time, and too many resources on prosecuting people on simple possession of marijuana cases - this is money that could be saved.  We should be going after criminals, not people that are just getting high."

"I don't think the question is whether or not it's a burden on the court system or the criminal justice system," counters Randall County District Attorney James Farren, "That's the function of the criminal justice system, is to protect citizens from criminal activity which is detrimental to them and to society."

Critics of the idea of decriminalization argue that mind-altering substances of any kind are inherently destructive, regardless of legality, as Farren says, "Whether it's legal or illegal, it's the drug that is altering their lifestyle and preventing them from being productive members of society.  What I often hear is, 'Well, alcohol's detrimental to society, we legalized it.'  We sure did, and how's that worked out for us?"

Supporters counter that allowing access to marijuana would decrease the use of more dangerous drugs, as Blackburn suggests, "If we legalize marijuana like Colorado and Washington have done, we would eliminate a big public health problem.  It would eliminate that whole racket that's going on with these synthetic substances."

Critics reject that notion as simplistic, as Farren says, "I just think it is a short-sighted, Pollyanna outlook to say, 'Well, if we just legalize this detrimental product, suddenly everything will be fine.  It won't be fine."

What remains to be seen are the long-term effects of legalization.  In the meantime, marijuana is still illegal under federal law, which could clash with state laws down the road.

For more on the issue and to see the DEA's current schedule, follow the links attached to this story.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Brothers try to elude police with their identities

    Brothers try to elude police with their identities

    Saturday, August 30 2014 7:56 PM EDT2014-08-30 23:56:01 GMT
    LAWTON, Okla._Two brothers were arrested early Friday morning after lying to Lawton Police about their identities. After leading officers on a short chase on Cache, Paul Tijani finally pulled over and told police his name was Peter. But officers noticed a passenger in the car that looked very similar to the driver. When they asked the passenger if they were related, he said no. But police say the two looked so similar they had a hard time telling them apart. Officers later determined that Pet...
    LAWTON, Okla._Two brothers were arrested early Friday morning after lying to Lawton Police about their identities. After leading officers on a short chase on Cache, Paul Tijani finally pulled over and told police his name was Peter. But officers noticed a passenger in the car that looked very similar to the driver. When they asked the passenger if they were related, he said no. But police say the two looked so similar they had a hard time telling them apart. Officers later determined that Pet...
  • SkyWARN 7 Forecast

    SkyWARN 7 Forecast

    Saturday, August 30 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-08-30 21:48:09 GMT
    Weather- Clear Skies RotatorWeather- Clear Skies Rotator
    Temperatures Climbing Back Up...
    Temperatures Climbing Back Up...
  • Mayor's Blues Ball continues in Medicine Park

    Mayor's Blues Ball continues in Medicine Park

    Saturday, August 30 2014 5:32 PM EDT2014-08-30 21:32:17 GMT
    The 8th Annual Mayor's Blues Ball is underway Saturday at Medicine Park.
    The 8th Annual Mayor's Blues Ball is underway Saturday at Medicine Park.
  • Today's Local News HeadlinesToday's Local NewsMore>>

  • Single car wreck kills one man

    Single car wreck kills one man

    Saturday, August 30 2014 11:59 PM EDT2014-08-31 03:59:01 GMT
    One man is dead after a single car wreck on I-40.Police say Aaron Clay Crawford, 26, died after he was ejected from a vehicle Saturday afternoon.
    One man is dead after a single car wreck on I-40.Police say Aaron Clay Crawford, 26, died after he was ejected from a vehicle Saturday afternoon.
  • One dead after motorcycle wreck

    One dead after motorcycle wreck

    Saturday, August 30 2014 11:58 PM EDT2014-08-31 03:58:14 GMT
    Around 3 p.m. Saturday, a man was pronounced dead after a wreck involving two motorcycles. Police say two men were traveling south on the Canyon E-way near the Hillside exit when one of the motorcycles stuck the back of a Toyota Camry. One male killed and the other motorcycle driver was taken to the hospital. Both the driver and the passenger in the Toyota were also taken to the hospital with minor injures.
    Around 3 p.m. Saturday, a man was pronounced dead after a wreck involving two motorcycles. Police say two men were traveling south on the Canyon E-way near the Hillside exit when one of the motorcycles stuck the back of a Toyota Camry. One male killed and the other motorcycle driver was taken to the hospital. Both the driver and the passenger in the Toyota were also taken to the hospital with minor injures.
  • Community helps support para-athletics in Amarillo

    Community helps support para-athletics in Amarillo

    Saturday, August 30 2014 8:43 PM EDT2014-08-31 00:43:42 GMT
    Back in February we introduced you to Emilee Hibish, now a Senior at River Road High School. For years she was forced to sit on the side line watching her friends compete in sports because she was wheelchair bound. 
    Back in February we introduced you to Emilee Hibish, now a Senior at River Road High School. For years she was forced to sit on the side line watching her friends compete in sports because she was wheelchair bound. 
Powered by WorldNow
KSWO-TV, 1401 SE 60th Street
Lawton, OK 73501

Telephone: (580) 355-7000
Fax: (580) 357-3811
Email: news@kswo.com

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and KSWO. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.