The Effects of Legalizing Marijuana
Everyone in the world likes marijuana. That is an exaggeration, but it is not far from the truth. They give it many names that show more love, ‘respect’ and reservation than hatred. The list of proofs that the world loves cannabis is long, but this paper highlights those that show how the United States values it. With as many as 24 States in America legalizing the use of cannabis, it is likely that many more would like to adopt the practice. The list of the cities that pass laws allowing the use of marijuana grow because municipalities make hefty sums of money from it and their economies develop (Corpus, 2015). That factor seems to have lured many Sates into embracing idea the legalization of ‘weed.’ However, they do not (forget to) pay close attention to the deleterious effects that might come from this conviction. This paper warns the US against legalizing the use of marijuana by trying to bar the remaining 27 cities from joining the practice. It also makes the case for the retroactive relief of those that advocate for it.
Marijuana Legalization in the United States
Some Americans still hold onto the Reefer Madness-era stigma and do not support cannabis conviction, but that do not stop States from doing it. The October 2014 survey spearheaded by Gallup, 51 percent of the country’s population favored legalizing ‘weed’, and that figure marked a remarkable 17 percent increment to the one that supported it about ten years ago. As of the midterm elections of 2014, the District of Columbia and 23 more states had laws recognizing legitimate use of marijuana for medical purposes. Four of them legalized the recreational use of the same. To many, this practice remains a controversy while others do not support it (Becker, 2015).
The above graph shows the Gallup Survey of the Americans in support of legalizing the use of cannabis in the United States. The record of those who want it legal rises every year, implying that most citizens are comfortable with the idea. On the other hand, the number of those who do not support its legalization decreased over the years. In fact, they even flirt with the idea in some cases, meaning that would consider it.
The Paths of Legality
According to studies, the people with no personal experience with the cannabis industry do not understand the distinction between medical and recreational marijuana. Recreational (‘legal’) weed is still new to the market. Currently, only three states have it – Washington, Colorado, and Oregon. Plans are in place for Alaska to join them soon. On the other hand, medical cannabis covers treatment and medicinal usage. It is legal in 23 states. Whether these industries will remain independent of each other or join forces is still unclear. Probably, the regulatory bodies of the states will decide how to go about it.
According to the federal laws, a person can only possess medical marijuana under a doctor’s prescription or note. It is purchasable, but the specifics differ from one state to another. The laws also allow donations if the purchase occurs at the dispensaries or access points. Medical cannabis involves breeding the plant to treat some conditions. The process requires selective modification of marijuana for chemical compositions (WhiteHouse.gov, 2015).
The federal government categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic and considers it illegal, a situation that makes venturing in this industry risk. Therefore, the authorities could still charge any vendor or user for possessing weed. Some businesses could lose hefty sums of money if the government closes down their investments for failure to comply with the laws (WhiteHouse.gov, 2015).
Marijuana users want a change in the taxation policies, and that factor is both intriguing and costly. Many of them feel that the laws should exempt patients or those who depend on it for medical needs from paying taxes for the ‘medicines’ they use. Since the consumption of other addictive drugs like tobacco and alcohol, which are legal and bring taxes, result in higher costs than the profits they bring, marijuana would likely have the same effect. For example, alcohol costs fifteen times more than the revenue the government gains by its taxation. If it conquers with the public’s quest of removing taxes from medical marijuana, then it would be more costs (Olinger, 2015).
Public Health Issues
The Administration of the US President has several reasons for opposing the legalization of marijuana. Foremost, it puts the health care system’s approach to drug policy in jeopardy. Legalizing marijuana for either recreational or medical use is a threat to public safety and health. It would normalize its use and increase its availability, which leads to an increase in poor health cases, especially among the young users. Cannabis legalization also undermines the strategies for preventative health, which is the mainstay in improving overall the public health conditions in the United States.
Marijuana convictions place a strain on the US healthcare system. It also poses several dangers to the safety of the users of its products, their families, and the communities. Everyone is aware of the fact that use of cannabis for long – chronic use from childhood – leads to addiction and dependence because it is not a benign drug. Stats show that over four million people met the diagnostic procedure for dependence or abuse of weed in 2011, with most of them suffering from cognitive impairment and respiratory complications. Cannabis is also the second highest substance for which patients seek medical attention and a major causal factor for emergency treatments.
Several studies reveal that the potency of marijuana tripled in the last two decades, raising concerns about public health implications. The most worrying part is the fact that the major victims are adolescents, for whom the use of cannabis can result to lower IQ in the future (an average drop of 8 points).
Many people believe that the use of medical cannabis will put an end to many health issues, but there is no guarantee in that. In fact, it will not solve safety or public health constraints because the policies that make it legal (accessible and available) do not eliminate the black markets (WhiteHouse.gov, 2015).
Many states that legalize marijuana are on the verge of doing the same are after the economic benefits that come with it. The sale of cannabis products such as lotions, oils, and edibles, among others, creates a new level of an economy. With many advertisement platforms cropping up to alert Americans that they should legalize weed, many states will follow the suit. However, the marketing of these products remains under the regulations of the States, which differ from municipality to another. The cities that blaze trails in this industry see their tax revenue as a result (Rowley, 2015).
The Times reported in the last fiscal year, which ended in 2014 June, that Colorado earned $70 million in cannabis-specific tax revenue. That figure was almost the twice of what it racked in from that of alcohol (Basu, 2015). Elsewhere, the Associated Press reported that the predictions revealed by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council showed that the marijuana industry of Washington will bring in about $694 million in the fiscal year ending in June 2019 (McKay, 2014).
In 2013, the sales of legal marijuana in the United States fetched as much as $1.5 billion. In just a span of one year, the returns increased by an overwhelming 80 percent ($1.2 billion) according to the findings of cannabis research and investment organization, ArcView Group. In fact, another independent research company, GreenWave, Advisers, projects that retail marijuana market of the US would rack in $35 billion by 2020 if all the fifty states and Washington D.C. were to have full legalization (Rowley, 2015).
When municipalities get access to such of information, they only think of legalizing weed in their states. However, they seem to overlook and forget the essential factors that come with the new-found wealth in it – the deleterious effects. The financial records aired on the media are not factual. Recent reports from one of the country’s reliable, nonpartisan firms, RAND Institute, held that those who outline the potential economic benefits from marijuana convictions overstate them to lure people into buying their ideas. For example, economists predicted that Colorado would make a whopping 184 million dollars in 2014 if legalized pot. However, it racked in 53 million dollars. While impressive, the return did not reflect the expectations. Therefore, if the heads of Colorado-based their decision to normalize the use marijuana on those predictions, then they made a ‘loss.’ Hefty sums of money go to the black markets of cannabis because legalization cannot stop their operations. For example, legal weed has a 28 percent tax rate if bought at the dispensaries. The high price compels people to acquire from the vendors who sell it for a cheaper price. Additionally, lowering the prices of weed products reduces the potential tax revenue returns.
There is no doubting that legalization saw the economic performance of the states that adopted it increase. However, they should consider taking a retroactive relief because there are many dangers that emanate from normalizing the accessibility and availability of marijuana. The Administration continues to object legalization because it breeds crime. It also interrupts the government’s innovative criminal justice measures to phase out the cycle of criminal activities and drug use. Additionally, legalization interferes with the plans to implement drug prevention, as well as proper treatment methods and recovery support.
Controversies and Crime
Whether legalization or decriminalization, normalize the use of weed confuses many people. In Washington, Colorado, and Alaska weed usage is legal. So while there are few restrictions on its possession, some rules apply. For example, Alaskans are free to cultivate and use marijuana for recreational and medical purposes, but will face arrests or trials in courts of law if found selling it. In Washington DC, however, residents can only possess, but not buy or sell it. Colorado has the most controversial case of cannabis conviction. The state’s laws on weed are friendly, but those of its neighboring cities are strict on the same. Nebraska, for example, enforced new policies to stop the spread of Colorado’s influence.
According to the Sydney’s (Nebraska) police chief, Wilkson B.J., the state experienced an increase in the cases of drug trafficking since Colorado legalized marijuana. Crimes related to weed shot by fifty percent in 2014. Oklahoma took the matter further by joining forces with Nebraska to sue Colorado. They even reported the case to the Supreme Court, demanding that Colorado changes its stance on cannabis.
A report by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) more arrests relate to non-violent drug offenses than a combination of all violent crimes. Over 90 percent of drug-related arrests are the weed. The Huffington Post argues that one person faces an arrest in every 42 seconds in America. In general, both legalization and decriminalization of weed fail to dismantle the groups that spearhead organized drug distribution. In most cases, these laws punish users, dealers or both, but do not tackle the root of the drug-related problem. While they, unnecessarily, prevent policing and save the country billions every year, they remain as ineffective as criminalizing marijuana (Norman, 2015).
America found a springboard to improving its economic performance, and it was one the involved marijuana. About 23 states deemed it fit to legalize for medical and recreational use to make revenues. All of them succeeded, and that factor has lured the ‘dormant’ cities to follow the suit. Those that normalized its use for health issues only now want to consider recreational needs too. Just as they expect, they will make more money out of that approach. However, all advocates of marijuana conviction do not pay attention to the deleterious effects that come with it. This paper warns them by highlighting some of the consequences that would come from overlooking the retroactive issues that would arise. The information in this article can also help other nations that might have thought of legalizing weed.
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McKay, T. (November 21, 2014). Washington: A Lawless Hellscape after Legalizing Marijuana. News Mic. Retrieved
Norman, J. (April 2, 2015). Negative and Positive of Marijuana Legalization, Decriminalization.
The Banner. Retrieved from thebannercsi.com/2015/04/02/positive-and-negative-effects-of-marijuana-decriminalization-legalization/
Olinger, D. (Sep 15, 2015). Colorado Pot Critic’s: Side Effects of Legalization. The Denver Post. Retrieved
Rowley, L. (October 05, 2015). Marijuana is Legal in the US. News Mic. Retrieved from
WhiteHouse.gov (2015). Public Health Consequences of Cannabis Legalization. White House.
Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/ondcp/issues-content/marijuana_and_public_health_one_pager_-_final.pdf
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