Weed Legalization In New York

I'm All For The Proposed Weed Legalization In The Empire State, Bring On The Green

Arrested for smoking a plant? Thank you, next.

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All it takes is a trip down some suspicious-looking alley in New York City to realize that New Yorkers have a very great affinity (an understatement, if we're speaking truthfully) for marijuana. We are in fact one of the states with the greatest percentage of individuals who smoke marijuana (enumerating only the people who admit to it, of course). Call it weed, molly, kush, dank, mary jane — it doesn't matter. Marijuana has obviously become a defining characteristic of a New Yorker.

A large number of marijuana users consequently implies a large number of marijuana-related arrests. The current law in New York City, the state's most dense area in marijuana usage, dictates that an individual apprehended with under 25 grams of marijuana will be fined a sum of $100. Individuals caught smoking in public areas, however, are subject to greater fines and even jail time.

Living in a world with institutional racism, however, invariably means that certain racial groups are more susceptible to punishment than others. This is one of the numerous issues relating to marijuana use that Cuomo hopes to eradicate with the state-wide legalization of the plant.

Governor Cuomo recently pushed for, in addition to a number of other new plans, the legalization of marijuana sometime next year. This means that we could join the other Democratic states in the nation that have already accomplished so (it's about time). These states have been reaping the benefits; Colorado, for instance, has made millions of dollars in revenue since the legalization of marijuana. These profits can directly fund necessities of the state, infrastructure for instance.

As a resident of New York City myself, the crumbling infrastructure is very apparent. The divide between the rich and the poor seems to grow every day; the impoverished areas of the city continue to decline and the well-off areas the opposite. Money appears to be spent on only selected regions of the city. The MTA, for instance, is in terrible condition and despite the constant fare-hikes, there appears to be no improvement on the overall quality of the entire system.

While there may be a lot of people against the decision to legalize recreational marijuana, it is probably in our best interests as a state to do so. Money from tax-payers is very evidently becoming insufficient to support the increasing needs of the large population. The expected revenue from legalization, according to Cuomo's officials, ranges from 248 to a whopping 677 million dollars. That money could be put to very good use, fixing our roads and trains being a good first option.

Marijuana-related arrests would also entirely diminish, which would save money and also lessen the number of individuals in our jails (arrested for smoking a plant? Thank you, next). Lastly, the legalization of marijuana would most definitely help increase the circulation of better strains of marijuana, as opposed to the ones being sold illegally right now.

Me being a college student may be why I'm advocating so eagerly for this legalization to go through the Senate, but the list of benefits is arguably endless. Fewer people in jail, more money in the government's pockets, a better city and state overall. Sounds like a win-win to me.

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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6 Reasons Why Title IX Isn't Protecting Students

The pathway set out for students seeking help with sexual assault is flawed.

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The protections against sexual assault college campuses need to provide must be easily accessible to everyone. That's because sexual assault on college campuses is a common problem. A problem that often goes unreported. Why is this a problem that is not being reported? Reasons vary from person to person; from being embarrassed to be called a liar to being terrified of any form of retaliation. We need to speak out against the injustices we face. Predators need to punished for their actions. Now, how can we help protect victims and exile predators in the "open-field" of college campuses?

In 1972 the Federal Civil Rights Law, Title IX, was passed. This law was established to prohibit sex discrimination at educational institutions; including sexual harassment and sexual violence. For many college campuses, this is the one and only option victims are geared towards. Though some argue we need title nine now more than ever, many disagree. Why? Well, Title IX has extensively dropped the percentage of successfully prosecuted cases from the time they started to the present day. It has become ineffective. Title IX is a critique of a system that protects sexual predators and hurts victims.

When talking to my friend, Mallory Clark, who has experienced going through Title IX, she described her situation like this: "I didn't report it to the police because everything was in his favor. I didn't have any support from Title IX."

Here and 6 reasons why Title IX is doing more harm than good in the status quo.

1. Title IX protects predators

Title IX can only successfully prosecute 9% of cases compared to 60% when they started. Why? That's because Title IX is informing predators on how to avoid "getting caught" or "getting in trouble". In a more detailed illustration; Title IX is educating predators on how to rape or sexually assault individuals. Predators are now modifying their tactics on their abusive actions in order not to fall under the laws Title IX has laid out. It's almost like telling predators "if you cut a sandwich down the middle, you'll be in trouble, but if you do it diagonally, you'll be good."

2. Emotional destruction is belittled

Unless an assault is categorized as "the worst accident in the world," Title IX won't actually do much about it. When a victim is called to give their testimony to Title IX officials, questions like "Did they force themselves on you?" "Did you say no?" "Were you drinking?" "What do you think caused this?" are asked in an interrogating-like style. Because of how Title IX makes it seem as if the only way you're a "true victim" is having been raped, victims feel as if maybe there really isn't any reason for them to be there testifying, much less any reason to feel broken.

An example of this is the way Title IX defines consent. They truly cannot frame or do anything about sexual assault/consent violations that are not clearly defined. Actions, like spreading naked pictures or stealing, are things Title IX still struggle to keep up with. For these reasons, many predators are clear off the radar because to Title IX, they didn't actually "do anything" physical to the victim, i.e. rape.

Something to consider: the physical and mental destruction a victim goes through on the daily having to see their abuser walk around freely, smiling, laughing, living. While the victim feels empty, disgusted and ashamed.

3. Their system takes forever

Title IX does not take immediate action. At least not in most cases. If they do it most likely because the student body was extremely involved in pushing actions to be taken not because Title IX was in a hurry. Title IX will tell us the process is inherently long. However, for as much red tape and bureaucracy they cite as reasons their investigations take so long, they sure do have a shocking amount of oversight. In a recent Title IX investigation at Boise State University, the investigation went four months over their deadline and the predator was able to graduate without them knowing about it. They claimed their hands were tied until the victim and their support system showed up with lawyers.

4. Title IX does not listen

Title IX has a lack of oversight. Title IX has been found to miss deadlines in approximately 54 college campus cases. This shows how little they pay attention to victims. Aside from not prioritizing their cases, Title IX has been giving victims bad advice. An example of this dates back to an incident at Baylor University where Title IX told the victim there was "nothing they could do about her situation" when there was. They simply did not want to deal with it.

The only agency able to regulate their behaviors is the office of ethics—which doesn't have enough funding money and only takes major cases into consideration. They can botch investigation after investigation without any consequences or ways to report or change their behavior

5. Gives institutional legitimacy to predators

Title IX makes it extremely difficult for survivors to find other avenues of justice. Hence why it is the one solution provided throughout college campuses on how to report and get help with any form of assault or discrimination. It makes it seems as if their validation and results are always correct. It makes it okay to call a survivor a "liar" if the invention was not successful.

6. The lack of an official Title IX coordinator

Though many college campuses may have an official Title IX coordinator, this is not applicable to everyone. In fact, Boise State University has not had a legitimate Title IX coordinator in four years. The person in charge at the moment isn't necessarily "qualified" for the position, yet they are still doing the job. This structural problem with Title IX is not being filled. This gets pushed off to the Gender Equity Center which is not equipped to handle the load of victims.

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