Mid-South weighs in on push to legalize marijuana

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — While the nation debates the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana, researchers at the University of Memphis Psychology Department are already planning a study on the potential impact of marijuana use.

A $400,000 research grant will be used the University of Memphis to study the impact of marijuana on students.

James Murphy, the psychology associate professor leading the twoyear study, says it will also make students aware of the risks of marijuana use.

“There are those things like legal difficulties, impairment in memory and learning,” Murphy said.

Now that the New York Times is supporting doing away with a federal ban on pot and letting states decide, more people are talking.

“I think it’s good to have a bigger newspaper take a stand and say maybe we are going too far in one direction,” U of M graduate student Rachel Fellows said.

“I am kind of surprised, I wouldn’t expect the New York Times would appreciate the legalization of marijuana,” U of M freshman David McClelland said.

Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen says the Times is right on track, since the war on marijuana is costly, targets minorities, and denies housing and jobs to marijuana users.

“It’s time we left the situation to the states like we did with alcohol and the last prohibition we had in this country. Let states make the decision as Colorado and Washington have, the laboratories of democracy,” Cohen said on the House Floor Monday.

“I think there are some reports from Colorado of increased traffic accidents and fatalities since the legalization of marijuana,” Murphy said.

At the U of M, the plan is to get information to students before they light up.

“They check you for drugs and all that stuff when you are trying to get a job. You legalize marijuana and everybody smoking nobody gonna get a job,” student Rshema Partee said.

University researches say if marijuana is made legal, the government may also need to consider increasing funding for drug treatment.

They say in the United States drug treatment programs have been generally underfunded.

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