Marijuana is a widely debated topic among criminal justice advocates, politicians, and recreational users alike. Over the last decade, sweeping forward movement has taken place in the legal arena in regards to legalization of the drug for medicinal purposes. However, there is a lag in creating more lenient laws and regulations surrounding recreational use. While many have personal opinions about why marijuana should – or should not – become legal across the United States, one thing is clear. Support for legalization is growing in noticeable ways, for a myriad of reasons. Here are 10 Reasons Why Support for Legalization of Marijuana is Increasing in the United States.
#1 – The Gateway Drug Myth
One of the reasons leading up to nationwide prohibition against marijuana use on a recreational level was predicated on the belief that the drug was a gateway to other, more harmful illegal substances. Marijuana users were thought to be far more likely to use cocaine, heroin, and other substances than those who had never tried pot. While this has some truth behind it, recent reports show that correlation is not the same as causation. Just under half of Americans have tried marijuana, but less than 15% have taken cocaine, and only 2% have tried heroin. The update to the gateway drug myth has led many to shift toward supporting legalization.
#2 – Enforcing Criminalization is Expensive
According to a Human Rights Watch study in partnership with the ACLU, an estimated 600,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession in 2016 alone. Criminalization of the drug costs American taxpayers a hefty amount each year in keeping these “criminals” behind bars (in jail) or moving through the court system. Legalizing the drug could mean less money spent on these efforts, and more funding used for other criminal justice initiatives.
#3 – Americans Widely Support the Move
Early in 2018, Canada announced a plan to legalize marijuana use recreationally by the middle of the summer, which offers some boost to the number of Americans supporting the move in the US. A recent Pew Research study reveals that nearly 57% of adults in America believe that marijuana should be legal, with 37% feeling strongly that it should remain illegal. As countries make unprecedented moves to legalize marijuana use, many individuals are likely to follow suit.
#4 – Potential for Economic Growth
One glaring reason for the increase in support for legalization is the potential for economic growth over time. Looking at states that have already taken steps to legalize marijuana for recreational use shows great promise in terms of monetary gain. Colorado, for example, generated $750 million in the first half of 2017 from legal pot sales, a portion of which goes to licensing and bonding fees that benefit the state and its residents. Other states legalizing the drug may have similar results which lay the groundwork for increased job numbers, lower unemployment, and strong economic environments on a local and state level.
#5 – Increased Tax Revenue
Following economic growth, tax revenues generated from legal marijuana sales also show incredible promise, especially for cash-strapped state and local governments. Keeping Colorado as an example, between July 2014 and June 2015, the state received $70 million in taxes from legalized pot. While that’s impressive, it doesn’t compare to the following fiscal year which brought in an estimated $200 million in tax revenue.
#6 – Decrease in Violent Crime
Research shows that legalizing marijuana sales on a state level does not correlate with an increase in violent crimes. In fact, taking away the gang and cartel-related activity from the criminalization of the drug may ultimately reduce violent crime in states where sales are legal.
#7 – Positive Health Benefits
Aside from crime reduction and positive economic effects, the legalization of marijuana also has known health benefits. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published a study that there is definitive evidence that marijuana use is an effective treatment for individuals with chronic pain. It is also known to relieve muscle spasms, menstrual cramps, migraines, and treat glaucoma in some patients.
#8 – Mental Health Support
Above and beyond physical health benefits, marijuana use is also known to provide positive mental health effects. For example, researchers share that weed may relieve anxiety when taken in small doses, and it may prove beneficial in jumpstarting the creative process for many. While these benefits are less advantageous than physical health advantages, they are adding to increased support for legalization.
#9 – Less Lethal than Other Drugs
Another reason legalization of marijuana is growing in popularity is the revelation that other drugs currently legal to use within the United States are more harmful than pot when used on a regular basis. Alcohol and tobacco cause more than 500,000 deaths each year, and they lead to several illnesses and injuries that have a widespread impact on society. Marijuana, or cannabis, the English language name for the drug, is a non-toxic substance that has never caused a fatal overdose.
#10 – Lower Addiction Rates
Compared to widely used pharmaceuticals, including painkillers and anti-anxiety medications, marijuana is known to be less addictive. The lower addiction rate to the natural drug means less of an impact on society as a whole, and far lower costs for medical care among users and non-users alike.
Each of these reasons alone or in combination with the others offers a glimpse into why the legalization of marijuana is becoming more accepted among adult Americans. Over the next several years, time will tell if the increased interest in legalization has enough to stand on in state and federal courts.
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.
This is a guest post by Eric Weisbrot. This post has been edited for syntax and grammar. The Law offices of Jay Leiderman is not responsible for the accuracy of the content herein or any opinions or ideas expressed herein. This post is for entertainment and literary value and is not intended as legal advice. This post does not establish an attorney-client relationship of any sort. If you have legal questions about ideas presented herein please contact a lawyer knowledgeable in this field of practice.