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GRCC students react to the legalization of recreational marijuana after Tuesday’s midterm elections

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During this year's midterm elections, Michigan and North Dakota will vote whether to legalize adult use of cannabis, and Utah and Missouri have ballot measures to consider medical marijuana legalization initiatives. Hemp farming is even making a return to Mount Vernon, where George Washington grew the variety and used it to make textiles. Here are 10 cannabis items that won’t make you crave a pizza but are still intoxicating. (Dreamstime/TNS)

A new governor was chosen by Michiganders on Tuesday as the midterm elections wrapped up, but that is not the biggest election news story on campus. Proposal 1, which proposed the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state, passed with 56 percent of voters approving the proposal during the elections.

On campus, we wanted to get students’ reactions to the passing of the proposal and find out what that meant to them in the future. The law is new, but already is having some effect on Michiganders. On Wednesday, a man and two women were in court in Grand Rapids for marijuana use but the judge handling the cases delayed proceedings given that the new law, which is set to take into effect next month, passed by Michigan voters on Tuesday.

Grand Rapids Community College students seemed to agree with the passing of the proposal to legalize recreational marijuana. Samantha Urena, 24, of Grand Rapids, thinks the new law will be good for people’s health, even though Proposal 1 focused on recreational marijuana use and not medicinal use since medical marijuana is already legal in Michigan.

“People will realize it can be used for medicinal purposes instead of just a drug,” Urena said.

Saylor Bower, 18, of Grand Rapids, believes that not only will people’s health benefit from marijuana, but our state’s economic health will see an impact, too.

“I think it’s really good for the economy,” Bower said. “Like the biggest thing is it could help lower taxes among other things.”

For some students, there was some confusion around the age when people will be allowed to legally consume marijuana. Layla Millerooks, 18, of Grand Rapids, expressed some frustration about being encouraged to vote for a proposal that some weren’t old enough to consume.

“I guess I thought that you would have to be 18 because people my age were like ‘Yes, go vote!’” Millerooks said. “But you have to be 21 to do it. I don’t care for it much, but I think that a lot of people will benefit from it.”

While some students had strong opinions about the proposal, others were indifferent to the new law.

“I think people should be able to do what they want,” said Nicole Beavers, 18, of Grandville, about Proposal 1. “If it doesn’t affect me, I don’t really care.”

Jeremy Wilder, 20, of Kentwood, shared a similar view on marijuana saying, “I don’t really care either way” when asked about the legalization of recreational marijuana in Michigan.

We also asked students what they thought about those who are currently incarcerated on marijuana charges. The law will take effect next month, but there were nearly 4,000 people in Michigan jails in 2016 who were serving time for marijuana-related crimes. Newly appointed Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer has expressed her plans on leniency for those who are currently behind bars for marijuana use before the proposal passed on Nov. 6.

Students at GRCC had mixed views about those who are currently in jail on marijuana charges. Josue Kisile, 23, of Grand Rapids, expressed hopes that those in charge will show mercy but understands that the law was different at the time of the crimes.

“I hope they can have compassion, maybe lower their sentences, but it was still illegal before,” Kisile said.

Jennica Beavers, 18, of Grandville, thinks those who are behind bars should be let free.

“Well, I think in other locations, when it was legalized, weren’t they released?” Beavers said. “If it’s legal now, they shouldn’t be punished any longer.”

Collegiate reporters Molly Mills, Erika Urivez and Torin Ives contributed to this report.

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