Why marijuana should be legal is a complicated story covering all of American history. Starting with legal hemp in Colonial times to the Schedule 1 Classification in the 20th Century, the journey to re-legalize cannabis covers lots of ground. Remember, back at the turn of the 20th Century, legal cannabis was available at the corner store. So, what happened?
Marijuana has gotten a bad reputation over the years and many people consider it nothing more than a drug that gets people high. One of the major reasons why many people vocally support calls to ban marijuana are the number of myths and misunderstandings surrounding it. The good news is that this is changing. Over the years, various studies conducted around the world have found multiple medical benefits from marijuana use and public opinion regarding marijuana has changed for the better over the last few years. The percentage of American adults who oppose marijuana legalization has sharply declined in recent years.
If you are still on the fence about marijuana, here are some reasons to help you make up your mind, starting with the fact cannabis is used for medicinal and recreational purposes around the world. There are over 480 compounds found in the plant, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
No Deaths Have Been Reported Due to Marijuana Overdose
One of the most popular marijuana myths that are still doing the rounds is that a marijuana overdose can kill a person. Nothing could be further from the truth. Recent studies shows that a person would have to consume 20,000-40,000 times the amount of THC in a joint to die due to an overdose. To date, not even a single account of death due to a marijuana overdose has been recorded.
It is Safer Than Many Legalized Drugs
- A study conducted by a team of drug experts in the UK found that marijuana has lesser side effects than many other popular drugs. Researchers found that the combined health risks posed by marijuana are much lower than that associated with alcohol and tobacco consumption
Marijuana is Not as Addictive as Many People Think
- Many people wrongly think that trying marijuana once would get them hooked to the substance. This is not true and is one of the many myths surrounding marijuana.
Cannabis Can Help with Insomnia
- Many strains of cannabis indica show promise in treating sleep disorders. Respondents participating in a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute reported sleeping more peacefully after ingesting a cannabis plant extract spray.
It is Not a Gateway Drug
- Many marijuana detractors claim that people who try marijuana first are bound to start using harder substances. In reality, most people who use marijuana do not go on to use other substances.
- In fact, cannabis is being used to wean addicts off of opiates and nicotine
Yes! You read that right. Marijuana can help alleviate symptoms associated with a number of health conditions.
- It is prescribed by physicians around the world to patients with nausea.
- It can help people with HIV/AIDS overcome poor appetite.
- Marijuana is known to relax muscle tension, spasms, and help manage chronic pain
- CBD, one of the compounds found in cannabis, may help cancer cells from spreading
- A study found that marijuana use can help control epileptic seizures
- Helps alleviate pain in multiple sclerosis
- Endocannabinoid compounds in marijuana can help ease depression symptoms
- Can help alleviate symptoms for those with Parkinson’s disease
- Can help improve cognitive performance and concentration in people with ADHD/ADD
- Endocannabinoid contains anti-inflammatories that are known to fight the brain inflammation that causes Alzheimer’s Disease
- Can help cope with pain associated with arthritis
- Helps with Crohn’s Disease
- Can help alleviate symptoms of Dravet syndrome
- Marijuana has a calming effect on the user. It helps control mood and can be used for treating kids with autism
Here is a laundry list of economic reasons why legalizing marijuana makes sense:
- More Revenue for the Government
- A study conducted in 2017 found that legalizing marijuana at the federal level that year would have resulted in a generation of $131.8 billion in tax revenue to be collected between 2017 and 2025. Thanks to a reduced peak business tax rate, this estimate has fallen. However, the government would have still been able to generate $10-billion plus every year.
- Legalization Can Help Cut Law-Enforcement Costs
- The federal government spends around $4 billion of dollars to enforce marijuana laws every year. Legalizing marijuana would help reduce these costs. Additionally, removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances would help reduce costs associated with court cases that go to trial.
- Job Creation
- Legalizing marijuana can help create millions of jobs. Marijuana legalization will increase the demand for professionals who can coordinate with farmers, processors, retailers, and distributors. Legalization will also benefit lenders, builders who specialize in developing retail outlets, and players in any other industries that cater to the cannabis industry.
Pro and Con Arguments
Proponents of legalizing recreational marijuana say it will add billions to the economy, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, free up scarce police resources, and stop the huge racial disparities in marijuana enforcement. They contend that regulating marijuana will lower street crime, take business away from the drug cartels, and make marijuana use safer through required testing, labeling, and child-proof packaging.
Opponents of legalizing recreational marijuana say it will increase teen use and lead to more medical emergencies including traffic deaths from driving while high. They contend that revenue from legalization falls far short of the costs in increased hospital visits, addiction treatment, environmental damage, crime, workplace accidents, and lost productivity.
A growing number of states have legalized the drug for recreational or medical purposes in recent years. The changing legal landscape has coincided with a dramatic increase in public support for legalization, which is favored by a majority of Americans.
Here are six facts about Americans and marijuana:
- Two-thirds of Americans favor marijuana legalization, reflecting a steady increase in public support, according to a September 2019 Pew Research Center survey.
- Views of marijuana legalization differ by generation and political party, though support has increased across demographic groups over time. Majorities of Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1997), Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1980) and Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) say the use of marijuana should be legal, up sharply from a decade ago. And while a smaller share of the Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1945) currently favors legalization, support among these Americans has also increased.
- Few Americans say marijuana should be illegal under all circumstances. In the fall 2019 survey, 59% of U.S. adults said marijuana should be legal for recreational and medical purposes, while another 32% said it should be legal for medical use only. Just 8% said the drug should not be legal.
- Supporters and opponents of marijuana legalization cite different reasons for their views. Americans who favor legalization are most likely to point to the drug’s perceived medical benefits or to say it would free up law enforcement to focus on other types of crime; 86% and 70%, respectively, say these are very important reasons for their support, according to a Gallup survey conducted in spring 2019.
Among Americans who oppose marijuana legalization, 79% say a very important reason is that it would increase the number of car accidents involving drivers who use marijuana.
- About half (48%) of American adults say they have ever used marijuana, according to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. That is lower than the shares who say they have ever consumed alcohol (86%) or ever used tobacco products (66%).
- Eleven states and the District of Columbia have legalized small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Combined, these jurisdictions are home to 29% of adults in the country.