BATON ROUGE — Dr. Brooks Cronin can't believe voters in Colorado and Washington were the first group in the United States to approve the recreational use of marijuana when they went to the polls on Tuesday. It's a decision he feels is going to cause more people to experiment with harder drugs.
"The surgeon general came down to Lafayette, Louisiana and said marijuana led to heavy drug use, which is cocaine. It'll affect your head and brain," says Cronin.
"Holland, the Netherlands. They have legal marijuana in that country and yet drug usage is less there than in surrounding European countries," says Wes Benedict, a member of the libertarian party in Louisiana.
Benedict favors the legalization of marijuana. With the United States having the highest incarceration rate in the world and Louisiana having the highest in the United States, he says if marijuana was legalized law enforcement could focus their energy on violent offenders.
"If we ended this, not only would it be more humane to a lot more people, but we would save a lot of money on incarcerating people, the criminal justice system could focus on crimes of violence and theft instead of victimless crimes," says Benedict.
And with the state facing constant budget cuts to education and health care, he knows it could also be a step towards balancing the state's budget.
"If we legalized and taxed marijuana just like alcohol and tobacco, crime would go way down, but tax revenue for the government would go way up," says Benedict.
But Cronin says instead of legalizing marijuana to balance the budget, Cronin says all it takes is a little bit of fiscal responsibility.
"But as far as raising money on whatever, cut the spending. They’re spending like crazy up there," says Cronin.