The debate over the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana in America has been raging for decades. And the fact that half the states in the country have legalized some form of weed – medical or recreational – has only added chaos.
If you’re a marijuana advocate, you probably shake your head sometimes. Laws, opinions, and perspectives on marijuana have regressed when compared to how people viewed marijuana over 100 years ago. At that time, you could regularly find it in pharmacies and apply its many medicinal properties to a variety of ailments for relief.
Things changed in the 1910s and 1920s and marijuana has been demonized and castigated for most of the nine decades since. This occurred despite mounting evidence – a lot of it courtesy of the U.S. government, no less! – indicating marijuana’s therapeutic properties and its being less harmful to your health than alcohol or cigarettes.
However, the last decade of the 20th century, when California legalized medical marijuana (1996), saw attitudes and perceptions finally began swinging back in favor of marijuana. A host of other states, particularly Colorado and Washington, began following the Golden State’s lead and, based on the pros of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana, voted to legalize marijuana, despite the federal government’s insistence that the plant remain a Class I drug in the same vein as heroin, coke, and meth.
The election year of 2016 saw nearly 10 states vote to legalize marijuana, which brought the total number of states on board rise to its current 25.
But the debate isn’t over. That the country is halfway there does not mean smooth sailing is ahead. The debate on the pros and cons of weed continue and the struggle to legalize cannabis throughout the entire country will only intensify and become more difficult.
Opponents still exist and spread negative opinions, many of which are based on hysteria, twisted data, religion, and plain old-fashioned ignorance. And you no doubt know that the current Attorney General is belligerent in his rhetoric on the cons of marijuana legalization.
MADD and other organizations whose alleged purpose is to protect society against the ills of drugs and alcohol (when it’s really just to make money by playing on the fears of those uneducated on marijuana facts) oppose legalization and constantly harp on the cons of legalizing weed.
And then, of course, there’s both Big Pharma and Big Alcohol, both of which are vehemently protesting the pros of legalizing marijuana – and understandably so.
Much of the data still needs time to be analyzed and even accrued, but statistics show that money spent on alcohol decreases where marijuana has been legalized. Furthermore, the use of prescription medications is on the decline, so you can see why Big Pharma and Big Alcohol protest so vociferously.
We’ve done some research ourselves, and we’ve determined a number of marijuana pros and cons.
The Pros of Legalizing Marijuana
The pros of legalizing weed are many and they start with the health benefits. However, the plant’s health benefits are, for many people (read, Big Business), superseded by the economic benefits.
And, for many others, there are also other types of benefits.
Let’s examine these types of pros.
Pros of Legalizing Weed – Health Benefits
For many people, the main pros of marijuana legalization focus on its medicinal properties, especially its effectiveness in treating a wide variety of medical conditions and health issues, including:
Medical marijuana is proven to provide relief from severe pain; it has been found to reduce pain where traditional pharmaceuticals have failed.
Daily stress and PTSD
Advocates of medical marijuana point to research showing the plant’s effectiveness in mitigating daily stress and reducing anxiety. It’s also been shown to help soldiers, first responders, and others who suffer from PTSD.
Various types of cancer
Marijuana has antioxidants that have been found to reverse certain types of cancer and give patients back their lives, including their quality of life.
Various diseases and ailments
Cannabis oil is one of the biggest pros of medical marijuana, as mountains of research indicate that it effectively treats a variety of ailments:
- Body cramps
- Joint pain
- General nausea
- Multiple Sclerosis
- And more
Reducing the Opioid Epidemic
Another of the pros of medical marijuana legalization is that it has a positive impact on America’s battle with opioids.
It’s believed that around 2 million Americans have a prescription opioid use problem. Early evidence from among the 25 states in which medical marijuana is legal has revealed impressive results in reducing the impact of this widespread issue.
In fact, a 10-year study in the first decade of the 21st Century found that in states across the country where medical marijuana is legal, opioid-linked death rates steadily declined after legalization.
Side effects of chemotherapy treatments
Patients with cancer can relieve side effects of chemotherapy, including pain, nausea, lack of appetite, and general malaise.
Fewer Risks and Dangerous Side Effects
It’s well documented that Big Pharma often pushes synthetic medications on the public even though many of them have devastating, often deadly, side effects. Marijuana is an organic medicine that incurs no such risks.
Fewer Accidental Overdoses and No Deaths
It’s also well documented that no one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana. In fact, evidence shows that one of the pros of marijuana legalization is that its use as medical treatment is a factor in the lower rates of accidental deaths from overdosing on the drugs that Big Pharma produces.
Pros of Legalizing Weed – Economic Benefits
Money makes the world go around these days, which means that when there is an opportunity to reap economic benefits in an industry, people will do anything to take advantage.
The legalization of marijuana is no different, so let’s examine the economic pros of legalizing weed.
Among the most popular pros of legalizing weed is that it might decrease prices on marijuana products.
Impact on the Black Market
Another of the pros of legalizing marijuana is that it will put incalculable stress on the black market. Patients will be able to buy their medical or recreational weed from a licensed shop, which funnels money throughout the system and removes it from the black market. Being able to walk into any licensed shop means fewer patients going underground to buy marijuana.
States such as Colorado are already paying down their debts due to the taxes on marijuana purchases. In fact, Colorado is making enough money from the legalization of marijuana that the state is able to improve certain aspects of its educational system by allocating portions of the revenue for such improvement.
Other states are planning to use the boost in tax revenue from legalization to fund projects that will improve their communities, such as building new parks, paving or repairing roads, or adding more public services.
How can people argue against these pros of legalizing weed?
Lower Health Care Costs
The cost to produce marijuana in its various forms – dried flower, edibles, drinks, tinctures, oils, concentrates, and more – is much cheaper than that of producing drugs from Big Pharma. This can aid in reducing the high costs of health care.
Loss of Business for Drug Dealers (Including Terrorists)
In addition to Big Pharma and Big Alcohol, the biggest opponents of weed legalization are drug dealers. Without competition from licensed legal weed shops, they’ve controlled every aspect of the underground drug industry for decades and have made obscene amounts of money.
Legalization, however, has opened competition and lowered prices, leaving drug cartels empty-handed. This is good news on many fronts, not the least of which is that this will reduce the funneling of money to terrorists, who are known to finance their operations with revenues from the black market.
Pros of Legalizing Weed – Ancillary Benefits
There are other pros of marijuana legalization beyond health and economics – mostly, the impact of other aspects of a functioning society.
Fewer Legal Worries
With legalization, marijuana patients and other cannabis users no longer are plagued by worries about being arrested.
Better Efficiency in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement
Those who champion the pros of marijuana legalization say that law enforcement will have more money and time to chase criminals committing real crimes, such as ones of violence.
Lower Incarceration Rates and Costs
Another of the pros of legalizing marijuana is that it will almost certainly reduce the number of people who have been or are currently incarcerated for marijuana. Punishment and fines are already decreasing, which is reducing criminal justice costs and saving tens of millions of dollars every year in states where marijuana is legal.
Better Safety Controls
When marijuana is illegal, patients must buy it off the street. This means that it’s impossible to know exactly how safe the medicine is. There are no regulations that ensure patient safety upon consumption.
However, upon legalization, frameworks for a safety control system are developed and implemented, which will ensure that patients know exactly what they are buying and how safe it is, making this one of the best pros of legalizing weed.
Legalization will mean people have more widespread access, which means people will have more choices to take care of and treat their health.
With wider access and more choices, personal freedom is expanded; without legalization, personal freedom is being infringed upon. Marijuana consumption is considered by many a “victimless crime”, so even if there are harmful effects, you shouldn’t be restricted from deciding whether or not to use it.
The Cons of Legalizing Marijuana
Despite the numerous pros of marijuana legalization, there are still cons of legalizing weed, although many of them stem from the demonization of the plant throughout most of the 20th Century. In fact, misinformation and misconceptions about the plant and its effects on people continue to plague the industry, creating cons that are sometimes nothing more than ignorance.
Still, there are cons of legalizing weed that should be examined.
Lack of Research
Although much research has been conducted in the last decade to uncover many of the plant’s benefits as well as those of legalization, there still hasn’t been enough research on marijuana to understand its short-term or long-term impact. This is due to the federal government’s insistence that marijuana be classified a Class I drug, which, by law, limits the amount of real research that can be done.
Impact on Those Unprepared for Its Effects
Marijuana contains a variety of properties, not the least of which are psychoactive ones, which are responsible for producing the “high” associated with marijuana use. For patients not used to this, there can be consequences.
One such effect is paranoia. Certain strains can cause paranoia in those unprepared or unaware of what consuming the plant can do. Marijuana often enhances or intensifies feelings and emotions that you already have, so if you’re anxious about consuming cannabis, it can make you more anxious. However, if you’re prepared and relaxed about it, the effects can be incredible.
Another possible effect is short-term memory loss, but this is usually due to the fact that people will smoke too much and put themselves into “couchlock”. On the other hand, if you learn how your body and mind react to marijuana consumption, you won’t be overwhelmed and can fully function in your daily life even as you regularly smoke it.
This is related more to smoking than it is to the plant itself. Combusting any plant material, including tobacco, creates tar and other residue that can have an adverse impact on your respiratory system.
However, if you consume marijuana edibles, apply tinctures, or vape cannabis, these risks are reduced. Furthermore, smoking marijuana does not seem to incur the same long-term consequences that long-term use of tobacco brings on, such as increased cancer risks, heart disease, and obesity.
Worries of Underage Use
Opponents of marijuana legalization claim that its legal status will make it more available and easier to access for children. However, this direct relationship is not proven.
Many medical experts claim that cannabinoids can have a negative impact on the brains of young people (teens and early 20s) and prohibit proper brain development. This, of course, needs more research before making such a conclusion concrete.
Marijuana is not physically or physiologically addictive. However, there are worries that it can be psychologically addictive because of the good feelings and emotions it elicits.
But the same can be said of anything you enjoy a lot – chocolate, sex, video games, porn, etc.
Against Religious Principles
This is ironic, since marijuana is important to Shiva, a god in Hindu lore. Still, many religious groups find marijuana offensive, and this mindset can have a major influence in communities where such groups have great influence.
Marijuana affects everyone differently because the interaction with each person’s *** endocannabinoid system is different depending on their mindset and perspective. As such, many believe this makes marijuana difficult to regulate.
Driving Under the Influence
To be honest, the jury is still out on this. Some evidence points to the fact that there are dangers inherent to driving motor vehicles after consuming cannabis. However, data from Colorado contradicts this – statistics show that highway fatalities have decreased overall since legalization was implemented. Data also suggests that fatal automobile accidents by drivers testing positive for marijuana have doubled.
However, there are problems with these findings. One is that marijuana residue can remain in the system for days, even weeks, after consumption. This makes it difficult to determine the true impact of marijuana consumption on automobile accidents, fatal or otherwise.
This issue remains one of the cons of legalizing weed until further research can clear up these inconsistencies.
Conclusion of the Pros and Cons of Legalizing Marijuana
As of now, it seems that of the various pros and cons of marijuana legalization, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. It wouldn’t surprise many cannabis proponents that the pros of marijuana will continue to grow while the cons of marijuana legalization will decrease.
The latter is expected due to the flawed arguments on the drawbacks of legalization that more research will uncover. As research continues from verified and reputable sources, myths and misconceptions likely will be debunked while the current known benefits will likely be confirmed. Furthermore, more benefits are expected to be revealed.
What is hoped in providing these pros and cons of legalizing marijuana is that you’ll make your own conclusion and, as a result, make your own choice either way as you see fit.