The use of marijuana has been touted as a gateway drug experience for several decades, meaning its use inevitably leads individuals to experiment with other, more severe illegal substances. This myth created a harmful stigma around recreational smoking that quickly led to prohibition of the drug on a grand scale. However, many advocacy groups have come together in support of legalizing the drug given new research and proven advantages of its use. Throughout the United States, individual states have moved toward legalization with varied levels of success based on a slew of research-backed benefits. Given some of the positive movement on the marijuana legalization front from a state perspective, the support for legalization on a federal level has grown steadily over the last ten years. Below are the specific reasons support for legalizing the drug will continue its rise in the upcoming years.
1. It’s Safer than Alcohol and Tobacco
There are a handful of drugs that do not fall under the category of prohibition, including alcohol and tobacco. The companies behind these substances have a long reputation of lobbying for their use on a recreational level, despite the known drawbacks of prolonged use among adults. According to the World Health Organization, nearly six million people die from tobacco use and 2.5 million from abuse of alcohol throughout the world each year. A large percentage of serious diseases, including heart disease and cancer, are also linked to tobacco and alcohol use, but both remain legal for adults to use recreationally. Marijuana use, on the other hand, has not been shown to lead to these types of statistics, and therefore, support continues to rise.
2. It has Proven Health Benefits
While recreational use remains a far cry from reality for many states, as well as on a federal level, the health benefits of marijuana have seen much support over the last several years. Medical marijuana has proven benefits to individual patients, helping ease the symptoms and discomfort associated with epilepsy, AIDs, chemotherapy for cancer, and Crohn’s disease. The drug is also known to cure glaucoma in certain patients, reduce muscle spams related to multiple sclerosis, and eliminate migraines and menstrual cramps.
3. Marijuana Reduces Stress
In addition to providing relief from minor to severe medical conditions, marijuana also has positive impacts on mental health issues. A recent study from the University of Illinois at Chicago highlighted the fact that low levels of THC – the main psychoactive compound in marijuana – has the ability to reduce stress and anxiety in some adults. These benefits of recreational marijuana use may lead to greater support for legalization as many adults live with the side effects of stress on a daily basis.
4. Criminalization is Expensive
Federal government initiatives to prohibit the use of certain substances like marijuana are costly at best, but they continue under the guise of widespread societal benefits. The unfortunate truth is that prohibition and criminalization of marijuana has not had a noticeably positive effect on society, but rather, the opposite. The total cost of the war on drugs, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, reaches more than $51 billion each year. And that expense has not lead to a reduction in marijuana use, violent crime assumed to be linked to its use, or criminal charges that lead to jail time.
5. Success from Legalized States
Another reason support for recreational marijuana use is on the rise can be correlated to the success experienced by the states that currently have legalization on the books. For example, Colorado reported more than $750 million in marijuana-related business revenue in the first half of 2017 alone. These revenues include dispensaries sales as well as growers and cultivator activities. While the growth of revenue is expected to slow in the years to come, it is clear that legalization leads to profit for states that allow it.
6. Increased Tax Revenue
In addition to increasing statewide revenue, tax revenue is missed when marijuana use is prohibited. On a federal level, it is estimated that nearly $8.7 billion in tax revenue could be received from marijuana legalization – money that could be used for other initiatives that serve a better purpose. States would also see increased tax revenue, especially with safeguards like marijuana surety bonds and licensing procedures in place.
7. Potential Economic Boost
Yet another glaring reason for marijuana legalization is the potential economic boost the move could bring to struggling communities. With the ability for business-minded individuals to establish legitimate dispensaries or grower and distributor operations, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of jobs would be created almost immediately. Legalizing the use of marijuana is an economic boom waiting to happen.
8. Canada’s Making the Move
In early 2018, Canada announced its plans to legalize marijuana use across the board, with an anticipated launch date in late summer of the same year. The country is currently working out the details of business licenses, dispensary operations, and the regulation of growers and distributors, mostly based on the system Colorado uses to control these moving parts of legalization. Canada may prove to be a success story in the legalization arena, which may boost support for legalization in the states.
9. More Americans are on Board
The support for marijuana legalization is growing consistently among Americans, based on some of the data revealed above. In a recent Pew Research study, an estimated six in every ten Americans now support the initiative which is double than the 31% reported in 2000. It is anticipated that as more research comes available and more states and countries represent success stories in the space, the percentage will continue to rise in the upcoming years.
10. Legalization May Replace Toxic Pharmaceuticals
Finally, dismantling prohibition of marijuana may come on the backs of pharmaceutical missteps in traditional healthcare settings. There has been a recent focus on the opioid epidemic, from both state and federal powers that be, which can be linked back to legal pharmaceutical drugs prescribed too often. Marijuana may offer a replacement for these harmful substances, giving rise to increased support across the board.
Author Bio: Eric Weisbrot is the Chief Marketing Officer of JW Surety Bonds. With years of experience in the surety industry under several different roles within the company, he is also a contributing author to the surety bond blog.