It may be time for Missouri to finally hop on the quickly populating bandwagon of legalizing medicinal and recreational marijuana.

While Missouri stands as a conservative state, the benefits of medical marijuana may be too significant to pass up. Legalization has already begun in some form for 29 of the 50 states. For example, Alaska legalized medical marijuana in 1998 and have continued to reap the health and monetary benefits of the decision, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. The health department’s website even provides risk and safety facts for the use of marijuana.

This can seem reckless and dangerous to some, but states that have legalized medical use have a series of strict requirements and guidelines to prevent a landslide of problems. States like Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland and Delaware require mandatory registration, only after being diagnosed with approved medical conditions. Patients receive registration ID cards, and in most cases, these cards can not be used in other states, regardless of the state’s laws on the drug.

Medicinal marijuana has been known to reduce the effects of cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS and epileptic seizures, according to Leafty.com. Conditions such as these can be extremely hard to live with, so why not give people the relief they need? Wouldn’t it be the humane thing to do?

While most marijuana uses are recreational, the spreading legalization of the drug has actually decreased the amount of overdoses from opioid drugs such as heroin, cocaine and prescription pills. The monetary benefits of marijuana are even greater. According to CNN, the state of Colorado has increased their state revenue by $500 million since its legalization in 2014.

Local Maryville law enforcement may not agree with the addition of marijuana legalization to the 2018 ballot, for fear of an increase in drug related issues, but it will only help settle these problems. Yes, there may be an increase of negative marijuana related phone calls to local sheriff's department, but that comes with any legally acceptable, yet possibly dangerous action from consenting adults. There will be individuals who abuse the substance, just as people abuse the use of alcohol, but the benefits will outnumber the drawbacks. We should take heed of our neighboring states and follow their examples.

Finding a healthy and safe balance between medical and recreational use of marijuana will save college students, parents--average everyday people from a life behind bars. Even rescue individuals have been incarcerated for nonviolent marijuana related charges. We have an opportunity to create an environment where individuals can be relieved of their pain, reunited with their family, and stay safe--why not take it?

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