New Jersey, Arizona, and very conservative states Montana and South Dakota voted to legalize marijuana last month, bringing the total count to 15 plus Washington, DC. One-third of Americans now live in a state where recreational marijuana is legal, according to Politico.
But we’re still a long way from nationwide legalization. Today, only the Netherlands and Canada have legalized marijuana country-wide.
Myths and misinformation about marijuana continue to linger in a segment of the population. Here are the facts and the reasons why marijuana legalization efforts are making headway, one state and one election at a time.
1. It is Impossible to Overdose on Marijuana
Shocking, right? Not a single person has been reported dead as a result of a marijuana overdose. It is a physical impossibility because, to have an overdose of marijuana, you would have to smoke about 40,000 joints.
That’s not to say that marijuana cannot have adverse effects. Undesirable effects like panic, palpitations, and hallucinations can occur when you ingest too much marijuana. But an overdose is practically an impossibility.
2. When Compared to Tobacco, Marijuana is Far Less Addictive
Despite its legalization in some states, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug alongside hard substances like cocaine and heroin. Considering the fact that marijuana is far less addictive than tobacco, which is arguably more harmful and has no benefits to the human body, it’s an unfair classification.
According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, “only 9-10 percent of marijuana users are addicted compared to drugs like cocaine which has 20 percent of users addicted, heroin 25 percent and tobacco with a whopping 30 percent.”
3. Legalization of Marijuana Can Combat Unemployment
With proper regulation and control, marijuana can be profitable, providing more job opportunities and reducing unemployment rates. With legalization, the government can boost revenue. One study estimates that taxing marijuana could generate more than $132 billion in new revenue and create up to a million jobs
4. The Criminalization of Marijuana Breeds Criminals
Just as the prohibition of alcohol in the past created the American Mafia, the prohibition of marijuana has resulted in the creation of criminal organizations. One study found that when medical marijuana was legalized in US states bordering Mexico, crime rates fell by as much as 13%. Mexican drug cartels that usually smuggled drugs into the US lost business simply because farmers were legally allowed to grow and sell marijuana! As a result, drug-related violence decreased.
5. Marijuana Prohibition is Crowding Jails
In 2018, nearly 700, 000 people were arrested for violating marijuana-related laws, and the vast majority of them were simply in possession of the substance. Although not everyone arrested ends up in jail, some do, and the strictness of marijuana prohibition laws creates a situation in which thousands of individuals are cut off from their families and forced into a prison system that will more than likely turn them into hardened criminals.
6. Marijuana can be Fake
Because the use of marijuana is a criminal act, there is no set of regulations to guide its growth and processing. As such, vendors sometimes add very harmful substances like glass beads to increase the product’s weight and consequently boost profits. Certain studies have shown marijuana tainted by such substances to be associated with respiratory and other health problems.
Many economists have cited the high cost of marijuana prohibition as a fundamental reason for its legalization. A Harvard study placed the price of marijuana prohibition in the US at over $7.7 billion per year and the potential revenue from taxes at $6.2 billion a year.
8. Prohibition Cannot be Effectively Enforced
According to the WHO, an estimated 147 million people, 2.5% of the world’s population, use marijuana. Marijuana continues to be a popular drug, and millions of people use marijuana every year for the first time. Therefore, the enforcement of marijuana prohibition laws is proving not only to be shockingly expensive but also relatively futile. The criminalization of marijuana drives people to the black market and exposes them to the risks mentioned above.
9. Marijuana Has Loads of Health Benefits
From fighting inflammation and chronic pain to improving skin health, the compounds in marijuana have been found to have loads of health benefits. One study showed that compounds found in marijuana could help stop the growth and spread of certain aggressive forms of cancer. Cannabis has also positively affected conditions like diabetes, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis.
10. Small Amounts of Marijuana may Boost Intelligence
An interesting study performed on young adults found that people who were “light” cannabis smokers – 5 joints a week or less – had higher IQs than non-smokers. The study also concluded that marijuana doesn’t have adverse effects on intelligence in the long run.
When we consider the opioid crisis and the damage that drugs like alcohol cause every year, it makes sense to decriminalize a relatively harmless substance. Unlike alcohol, marijuana cannot be linked to anger and domestic abuse. With medical marijuana helping millions of people improve their quality of life, it’s only a matter of time before marijuana is legalized across the country.