The Path Forward to Pot Legalization
The Marijuana culture in the US is rising rapidly, more and more citizens in the US support it’s legalization (2/3 according to Pewresearch). So far 11 states have legalized weed. So, many want to know what are the early numbers on the places that have legalized it? What are the results from states likes Colorado, and California? And what the government truly knows about the history of marijuana?
How’d it become illegal in the first place?
Marijuana has been studied in science since the 1800’s in Europe. Then, about two centuries ago, marijuana was discovered to be medicinal. But, it really didn’t become prominent in America until Mexican immigrants were migrating en masse and bringing over with them “marihuana”. Back then, Mexicans were thought of as being a violent and unproductive problem to American society, thus anglos extended that same thought process to what the effects of marijuana must’ve been. Because of the generalizations of Mexican Americans during the early 1900’s many became cautious. Don’t forget, Mexicans were segregated just like African-Americans. To add to the misnomer, there was also many people who believed that marijuana made black men violent against white women. Many reasonably suggest that this notion is overtly racist, and according to all current science, an contrary interpretation of the effects of weed. Here’s the source- https://www.google.com/amp/s/time.com/5572691/420-marijuana-mexican-immigration/%3famp=true
Because of these views, between 1916-1937 in a state by state basis, weed was made totally illegal under President Roosevelt.
Cons of legalization
Two sides to every story, so what’s the negatives of weed? For starters, it didn’t eliminate the black market and cartels. States that legalized weed had to tax the heck out of it, therefore, it’s sold for above street level prices. Moreover, the states that legalized marijuana technically make possession legal, so it’s less risky to buy marijuana in the black market. Demand skyrocketed after the risk was gone, allowing some dealers to even decrease prices from what already existed. As a result, places like California didn’t make nearly as much money as desired because they’re black market is very competitive to the high taxes they have. Also, homicide rates did increase in legal states after legalization. Does that mean it was caused by weed? Who knows (correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation)?According to the Hill.com homicides over doubled in 2019 and cities like Denver, D.C., and Seattle saw increases in homicide shortly after legalization- here’s the source on that https://www.google.com/amp/s/thehill.com/opinion/criminal-justice/430551-is-marijuana-legalization-driving-increases-in-violent-crime%3famp.
The other negative impacts of weed is it’s federal classification. Currently, the federal government deems marijuana a schedule one drug, that means that it meets all three of the harmful classifications that are considered by the government. The traits are being addictive, harmful, and non-medical (same class as ecstasy, cocaine, and other illicit drugs). So in theory, if you’re in the unlikely scenario that a federal law enforcement agency like the FBI pulls you over with weed in Colorado, they can, and very likely will still arrest you under federal law. Or if you’re doing a road trip and slip past the state line into a non-legal state like New Mexico, well you’re definitely vulnerable to getting busted.
Pros of legalizing
Tax revenues were in the 100’s of millions in legal states. California and Washington made 300 million, Colorado was at 260 million (2018 stat) here’s the source on the numbers- https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2019/03/26/which-states-made-the-most-tax-revenue-from-marijuana-in-2018-infographic/amp/. The results have been massive for many places. With this money, states like Colorado used the revenue to address homelessness and underprivileged youth by increasing their access to college. It’s very possible that the millions of people in each state that were helped by tax revenues may not have been as lucky without some help from weed taxes. But as mentioned above, revenue has certainly been below expectations for a number of reasons. The second and arguably most powerful argument for weed is that it’s significantly less harmful then alcohol and tobacco, moreover, it’s big in helping people medicinally. Marijuana is a pain and nausea remedy, and has been associated with helping fight cancer, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, glaucoma, and Multiple Sclerosis. That alone is a huge reason why people feel like it should be totally legal, especially being that alcohol and tobacco are. Plus, any crime that marijuana impacts is nothing in comparison to the amount of countless crimes of every nature that have been due to alcohol, or the rate of disease from tobacco products. We also know that marijuana doesn’t usually make a person violent either. Think about how much states would also save on inmates serving simple possession charges. Sure, using it excessively or frequently chain smoking certainly can be harmful, but anything not done in moderation can be harmful. Some have also described weed to also enhance creativity. Seth Rogen is on record saying that he’s been high for much of his professional career and felt that sativa strands could actually make him more creative.
It’s very likely that the growing public support will cause more and more states to continue to legalize. For many reasons, some states prefer to hold on to the seemingly moral route, but can they do so against the pressures of the weed community? The states that have began legalizing don’t seem to regret their choice. But can they also solve the other issues of the black market and possible link to crime that may keep medical only states from jumping on the recreational bandwagon? That’s something that only time can tell.