By: Alan Smith
California recently joined Alaska, Colorado and Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington in legalizing marijuana for recreational use. California adults 21 years and older will be able to purchase, possess and use marijuana much like Alcohol.
Recently Republican gubernatorial candidates, Joel Giambra, stated his support to legalize marijuana and use its tax revenue to repair New York State infrastructure. Governor Andrew Cuomo who is seeking reelection is excepted to respond in kind if there is any shift in polling.
Solid majorities of Americans in poll after poll continue to support the legalization of marijuana. 64 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, including 51 percent of Republicans, who have traditionally been more opposed to legalization. Forty six percent of Americans have admitted to trying marijuana at some point in their lives. These days, past or current use of the drug is expressed pretty openly by many – even in states where recreational use is still prohibited.
The black market for marijuana has existed since the passage of early marijuana prohibition in the 1930s. Federal regulation has not stopped the black market from growing so expansive that marijuana became a top cash crop (#1 in 2006). Over 30 million Americans are regular users of the drug and this is not a trend that is likely to slow.
The Medical benefits of marijuana have been known for decades, despite prohibition making research difficult. CBD oil has been found to treat, among other ailments: seizures, combat cancer, Chronic pain, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, Alzheimer’s and Multiple sclerosis. Legal marijuana can serve a substitute for addictive pharmaceutical drugs as well. In addition to the 8 states where marijuana is now legal, 23 states have legalized medical marijuana as a result of recognizing the medicinal benefits.
In 1974 the Heath/ Tulane University study was produced and President Ronald Reagan announces that “the most reliable scientific sources say permit brain damage is one of the inevitable of the use of marijuana.” This was the creation of the lie that marijuana kills brain cells.
“Monkeys pumped full of marijuana, apparently 30 joints a day had begun to atrophy and die. Brain damage was determined after counting the dead brain cells of both monkeys who had been subjected to the marijuana and ones who had not. This study became the foundation of the government and other special interest groups to claim that marijuana kills brain cells. Here is what they didn’t tell you. After six years of requests on how the study was conducted, it was finally reveled. Instead of administering 30 joints a day for one year. Dr. Heath used a method of pumping 63 Colombian strength joints through a gas mask, within five minutes over three months. They suffocated the monkeys,” said The Union: The Business Behind Getting High, a documentary on marijuana. So to recap without any oxygen for five minutes, it suffocated the monkeys causing them to lose brain cells and die.
The legal marijuana market is safer for sellers and consumers. Customers know what they are purchasing, and they have legal recourse if the product they purchase is problematic. Marijuana sold on the streets has unknown THC quantities and, oftentimes, can vary wildly in potency. Some of the illegal marijuana supply is laced with other drugs, becoming potential life-threatening for users. Headset Inc, found that the average recreational marijuana user spends $647 each year on marijuana.”
The stereotypical marijuana concept is that it is a gate way drug. Which in some light is true, but it is not the drug that creates this effect, it is the drug dealer. Many drug dealers often have other drugs as well since they are already taking on the risk. If an effort to make more money they may try to sway marijuana users to try something else they have that might be more addictive or expensive. If marijuana is sold in a shop or dispensary this gate way drug affect is eliminated
Adolescent marijuana use rates in Colorado actually went DOWN after it was legalized. Older users much prefer to purchase from legitimate brick-and-mortar businesses; in turn, the legal market dried up the demand for street dealers. Legitimate businesses are able to prevent youth from gaining access to the drug.
Marijuana prohibition has had a disproportionate effect on racial minorities. African Americans are, according to the ALCU are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites, even though both groups use the drug at the same rate. The convictions and jail sentences that come from these arrests limits earning potential of those with criminal records, while also aggravate wealth inequality among whites and people of color.
The costs associated with marijuana prohibition are two-fold: first, 42 states forego the potential tax revenue that comes with legalization. Colorado brought $63 million dollars into tax coffers in the first year of legalization. Second, governments have to pay police, court, and other costs associated with prohibition. The US spent $3.6 Billion on marijuana prohibition in 2010.
The arguments in favor of legalization heavily outweigh the drawbacks. Alcohol prohibition resulted in the only repeal of a constitutional amendment in American history. Marijuana prohibition, much like alcohol prohibition, has been a failure.