Mid-South weighs in on push to legalize marijuana

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

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.


  • canadianwhiskeygirl

    Aw hell! Just legalize pot and be done with it! In my opinion, pot ain’t shit compared to the deadly addictive heroin and cocaine coming in from the borders by the kilos. Not to mention medical marijuana which in my opinion, some people manage to a prescription for to keep from getting busted for possession/ intent to distribute. And notice I say SOME!

  • hugh jazzol

    why are we still wasting billions on pot when we can make billions in revenue? because law enforcement doesn’t want to lose its most valuable source of funding,from confiscation of assets from people busted with pot,

  • Wayne Kerr

    And meanwhile the underground trade continues to flourish.
    Realistically we have two choices;
    1) Legalize and regulate, this would allow for enforceable quality standards, production controls, accessibility limits, and tax revenue.
    – OR-
    2) Allow the continued black market control of cannabis by international cartels and other criminals who have zero concern over pesticide use, fertilizer runoff into water supplies, the destruction of our public lands, the deaths of tens of thousands that have gotten in their way, and the corruption of Law Enforcement on both sides of the border all the while funneling their untaxed profits into the underground economy.
    People that want to use cannabis will continue to use cannabis regardless of any law, if we can get it legally great, if not we’ll simply continue to buy it off the street. The choice is yours.

  • Ralph Noyes

    Treat it like alcohol. Regulate and tax, restrict access reasonably. Regulate commercial sales. Allow small indoor grows, as the Memphis area outdoors is too hot and wet for optimal outdoor growing.

    Soon we will all be presenting our homegrown strains in competion at county fairs.


  • smokefax

    Some of these quotes are remarkably… unthoughtful, is the kindest way to put it. For example, if cannabis were legal, employers would be less likely to test, since most tests for marijuana only reveal use up to thirty days ago, meaning they’re worthless to see if someone is high on the job. Just as most employers don’t care f their workers drink on the weekend, pot would become much the same situation. That’s jus one flaw n one quote. Sheesh! It’s just another cherry picking ‘study’ meant not to learn what is true but to prove a preconceived point.

  • chronicdiscontent

    It sounds like the “researcher” has already made up his mind. Alcohol related traffic deaths among young people fell 9 percent in states that legalized medical marijuana, while beer sales decreased, other research shows. Meanwhile suicide rates among young men also fell 9 percent. Read the study by Daniel Rees and Mark Anderson of UC-Denver and the University of Montana. Legalize it.

    • Smitty1961

      I agree Chronic. A quote like “I think there are some reports from Colorado of increased traffic accidents and fatalities since the legalization of marijuana,” certainly draws in to question not only the objectivity of the researcher, but also qualifications. “I think…” and “…some reports…”? Come on.

  • BHicks

    Dr. Murphy said “I think there are some reports from Colorado of increased traffic accidents and fatalities since the legalization of marijuana.” A quick search of the Colorado Dept of Transportation website (www.coloradodot.info) shows that during the first seven months of legalization, traffic fatalities are down from 263 to 252. Crime is down in Colorado. Murder and rape are also down. Underage sales are essentially zero.

    These are the issues I care about regarding legalization. Are there more or less traffic fatalities? Are serious crimes up or down? Are the stores selling to kids? Dr. Murphy is receiving $400,000 of our tax money to research marijuana risks, so why isn’t he researching these big issues?

  • sashew

    Is there anyone who would feel safer if Willie Nelson was doing 13.3 years for his three drug arrests? He was busted in Texas with 6 ounces of weed, normally 1 year in prison and a mandatory minimum of 180 days. Instead, the prosecutor suggested a $100 fine if Willie sang “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”, reportedly joking that he and the sheriff “smoked and destroyed enough evidence” to get the amount under the 4 ounce limit which invokes the mandatory minimum sentence.

    I applaud the actions of both the prosecutor and the sheriff. Its insane to think the world would be better with Willie Nelson in prison; he seems to be doing fine, so leave him alone.

    This is the issue. Are the risks of risks of marijuana so great that we must put people like Willie Nelson in prison. If not, we certainly shouldn’t sentence black trucker Bernard Noble to 13.3 years hard labor with no chance of parole for two joints in New Orleans. Marijuana laws are unevenly applied, racist and immoral.

    Before legalization in Colorado, the prohibitionist predicted more highway fatalities, more crime and increase access by kids. Instead, crime and highway fatalities are down as shown by official reports.

    Legalize it, its the right thing to do.

Comments are closed.