Today, there are fewer reasons for people to be on the fence about legalizing and decriminalizing cannabis. For anyone who still might be, though, here are five top reasons for why legalization is good for more than just benefiting those who already enjoy it.
Prohibition drains limited government resources
It is crucial to recognize that marijuana prohibition hasn’t worked. Despite expensive enforcement efforts, inexpensive pot is widely available everywhere in the United States. Moreover, criminalizing cannabis is not only a distraction, but it drains the limited resources of law enforcement, the courts, and our correctional systems. Meanwhile, proponents of legalizing recreational marijuana argue that it will add billions to the economy, create thousands of jobs, free up scarce police resources, and stop the vast racial disparities in marijuana criminal enforcement. And they’re right.
The medical benefits change and save lives
There are countless stories about cannabis changing people’s lives in so many ways including both mental and physical improvements. For example, many military service members return from armed conflicts suffering from PTSD. This condition can cause debilitating anxiety, nightmares, hypervigilance, detachment, overwhelming emotions and suicide. But recent studies have shown that cannabis helps PTSD sufferers dramatically. Increasingly, research suggests that THC may prove advantageous as a pharmacological approach to treating stress and trauma. More studies are needed, of course, but the anecdotal evidence is encouraging.
Crime and punishment will decline
The United States has the largest jail population in the world, the majority of which is serving sentences associated with drug convictions. In 2018, police officers made about 663,000 arrests for marijuana-related offenses in the United States, amounting to 40% of the nation’s 1.65 million total drug arrests. Contrast this with research that reveals how medical marijuana laws result in significant reductions in both violent and property crime rates.
Teens won’t be harmed
Contrary to popular belief, youth marijuana use does not increase after states enact legalization for medical or recreational use. Researchers examined survey data on substance use collected from 1.4 million adolescents between 1993 and 2017. During that period, 27 states and Washington, D.C., legalized medical marijuana, and seven states legalized cannabis for recreational purposes. They found that adult-use cannabis laws were associated with an 8% decline in teens using cannabis in the previous 30 days, as well as a 9% decrease in teens reporting frequent cannabis use.
It’s the right thing to do for consumer safety
One of the biggest reasons to end prohibition is improving consumer safety. People buying marijuana on the street have no way of knowing if what they’re consuming is safe. Once a state legalizes the use of cannabis, it can pass restrictions on levels of CBD and THC. Testing regulations ensure cannabis products are safe, and haven’t been laced with any other drug or object, such as lead, heavy metals, glass, or fungus, all of which are often found in lower-grade marijuana.
As more states move to decriminalize cannabis, and as the economic benefits of a legal marijuana industry become clearer, more states will join in spreading legalization nationwide.