Marijuana is fully legal, both recreationally and medically, in 11 states and the capital region of Washington, DC. In most other states, it is either decriminalized or medically legal, with only 8 states having classified it as “fully illegal” — neither decriminalized nor recreationally/medically legal. It doesn’t stop here, though, as legislation and regulations are always rapidly changing. Why is the public attitude toward cannabis changing so quickly, and what are the big-picture benefits that are pushing most states in favor of legality?
1. Medicinal benefits
Cannabis has been used for its anti-inflammatory, appetite-stimulating, anxiety-calming, and anti-seizure properties. Mary Jane Rathbun, the famous “Brownie Mary” from the 1970s-1990s, gave dying patients her special pot brownies to help ease their pain and suffering. Cannabis has been a component of medicinal remedies for centuries across the world, well before it started gaining a negative public opinion.
2. Shift police priorities
In 2018, four in ten drug-related arrests in the United States were for marijuana-related transgressions, and at that, the crimes were usually just possession. The decriminalization of marijuana would help shift police time, money, and resources away from non-violent possession offenders and toward violent crimes and hard drugs instead. In addition, everyone has the right to their own personal freedoms, as long as they aren’t causing disruption or harm to others. Weed is certainly one of those personal freedoms for adult citizens in the United States.
3. Create jobs and raise tax revenue
With legalization comes a brand new market, which leads to more jobs and greater tax revenue. For example, weed tax in California is sufficiently high enough that it often brings the greatest tax revenue to certain cities over all other businesses. Criminalization of weed drains money, which is a huge waste for offenses that are primarily nonviolent.
4. Safer consumption
Another beneficial factor of cannabis legalization is increased safety. When cannabis is legal, it comes with regulations. This means that manufacturers would produce products with precise dosages, which helps decrease the risk of overdosing or poisoning from fabricated weed. In addition, there are more options for cannabis usage — for example, edibles in unique and creative forms, skin topicals (most of which are non-intoxicating), and CBD products (which won’t get you high, like THC products will).
5. Less detrimental than alcohol consumption
Another benefit of legally consuming marijuana (at moderate levels) is that it is less detrimental to the body than alcohol consumption (which is legal in all parts of the United States). While alcohol-related deaths add up to over 30,000 per year, the marijuana-related death toll is annually 0. Alcohol overdoses can be lethal, but the most damage a weed overdose will cause is heavy sleep. Furthermore, weed overdoses do not cause violent or impulsive behavior, unlike alcohol overdoses.
The legalization of marijuana would not just be a mark on a ballot — it represents new medicinal avenues, new tax revenue, safer options, and redirection of police resources. With the rapid shifts in policy and legislation across the nation, cannabis is becoming more accessible to everyone, one step at a time.
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