Photograph by Talia Cole

The highly anticipated legalization of recreational marijuana will be initiated in California as of January 1, 2018. Despite its illegality, many people enjoy smoking pot. Although this legalization is something to be celebrated, it also means that problems will arise after the opening of a new market.

Having observed the success of the marijuana industry in other areas, businesses have jumped at the chance to sell the drug. In fact, according to Forbes contributor Julie Weed, “California cannabis entrepreneurs will earn $5.2 [billion] in revenue in 2018 as recreational use becomes legal there.” Moreover, it’s not just individual dealers that stand to make a great deal of money; the government will collect about one billion dollars in accompanying taxes.

As a result, the price of marijuana will no doubt be much higher commercially than it ever was illegally. This may induce illegal distributors of the drug to continue selling it because obtaining it legally may be too expensive.

Due to racial profiling, the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of people incarcerated for marijuana possession are people of color. It’s obvious that the phenomenon is explained by racial bias because pot smoking rates are virtually the same among all races. The illegality of marijuana gives police officers an easy way to imprison people of color. Incarceration prevents people of color from rising to positions of power. In this way, racial hierarchies are effectively maintained.

The sanction will take away the credibility of the grounds on which such charges are made, hopefully limiting the issue.

Some are worried that legalization presents issues concerning usage in the presence of minors. Smoking pot in front of a child can influence them to do so themselves, or can possibly be psychologically damaging.

Be that as it may, alcohol is no less damaging, and it’s been legal in the United States for 84 years. Extensive research has proven that alcohol has negative effects, yet nothing similar has been proven for marijuana. In any case, the new year and the legalization of marijuana is a step forward that will bring positive change to California.