The legalization of marijuana is still a hotly-debated topic, even with legalization being available in certain countries as well as in some states within the U.S. Regardless of where you stand on the debate, the truth is that cannabis is a drug and there are pros and cons to the legalization of any substance.
If you are wondering why such a struggle exists or are curious as to the other side of the argument, let’s break down cannabis policy and the pros and cons that come with marijuana legalization.
Why Is Weed Illegal?
There are many reasons why weed is still largely illegal and a lot of it has to do with the image behind marijuana. Marijuana, like many drugs, is backed by the image of the constant user or “stoner”. The stoner image is then reinforced with several perceived negative traits such as the stereotype that stoners are lazy or unambitious.
There are also some racial ties to the drug and misconceptions that producing the drug would result in violence and crime rates rising. Because of this, it is unlikely for non-marijuana users to accept such a drug into society and allow it to become a commonly used substance.
Another major reason why weed is illegal is the fact that it can be hard to regulate. Much like alcohol, legal marijuana would be accessible to those who wanted to use it. However, making this market accessible to everyone makes it difficult to control the consumption of marijuana.
More importantly, the use of marijuana while doing something such as operating a car could be dangerous to others and is not as detectable as alcohol. Without systems to better control and detect marijuana, it can be hard for legalization to take place.
Abuse and Health Concerns
Because it is a drug, there is also the conversation about youth use, addiction, and potential health concerns. Weed is illegal for these reasons as well as many argue that people can market to a younger audience (which can result in health and development problems). It can also be an addictive substance to many individuals, and that it could not be as healthy as stated by supporters.
While this is not a comprehensive list of all of the reasons why weed is illegal, these are some of the main reasons why marijuana hasn’t become a legal substance.
Why Marijuana Should be Legal?
For those who want to see marijuana legalized, there are a number of benefits that come with making this drug more available to the public. Here are some of the main arguments presented by proponents of legalization.
Benefits of Legalizing Weed?
To those who use weed themselves or to those who support the benefits that weed may offer, there are many benefits that would come with legalizing marijuana. Why should we legalize marijuana? Some of the pros of legalizing marijuana include:
Pros of Legalizing Marijuana
There are many pros of marijuana and the benefits of marijuana are more than the cons.
The marijuana market is huge. From medical to recreational use, there are plenty of people willing to pay good money to purchase their weed. This money could easily be used to boost the economy, rather than being put in the pockets of those who may or may not pay taxes with those profits.
For those who are concerned about economic issues, this could be a major game-changer and a way to improve the country’s financial health as more businesses, job opportunities, and consumers are allowed to emerge and grow in this industry.
Creates Less Black Market Demand
Let’s face it, laws don’t prevent people from doing drugs. People are going to do drugs if they want to, they will just simply work around these laws and become sneakier in their attempts to acquire and use illicit substances. By legalizing marijuana, purchasing the drug no longer has to be a black market ordeal.
People can begin to have a more transparent purchasing process and have access to the marijuana that they want without having to reach out to sources that may not be safe or reputable. This can also help us to avoid the issue of people growing tired of trying to bypass marijuana laws and reaching out for harmful synthetics such as spice. When the black market is involved, very few people are safe.
Decreased Teen Use
Anyone who sells weed illegally is already breaking the law, which means that they can sell to whoever they want, whenever they want. This makes it easier for teens to get their hands on and use. While it isn’t as dangerous as other substances, marijuana isn’t recommended for teens as it can cause damage to their developing brains.
Legalization of the drug would make sure that those who sell are legally able to sell and therefore, ban them from selling to customers who are under the required medical or recreational age. Normalization of the drug may also help to decrease overall use until teens have reached legal age.
Regulated for Safety
Illegal weed is unregulated. True, there are laws that prohibit its use but these laws don’t have any impact on use until after it has been consumed by the individual. If weed were to gain legal status, however, we would have a much more transparent view of everything from growth to purchase.
We can also have laws and regulations in place that make the consumption of it much safer. Even growing laws would change, causing PGR in weed to stop. While there are still concerns about how we would be able to enforce safe consumption and prevent injuries, legalization would help bring us one step closer to regulation in regards to safety purposes.
Fewer People in Jail
Marijuana is arguably one of the least harmful of all illegal substances. It doesn’t have any of the fatal side effects that many other illicit drugs carry. However, because it is illegal, many people have gone to jail for possession or use of the substance. This takes up space in prisons for the people who are facing more serious charges.
If we were to remove all the people from jail who were simply found guilty for using or having marijuana, we would greatly reduce the number of people incarcerated for these charges and save even more money by using less of our tax dollars.
More Money Through Taxes
Money made through selling weed (illegally) is not taxable. This means that all of the profits made by drug dealers go straight into their pockets and will likely never see the government use. Considering the fact that the market is so big, the government could earn a lot through the taxing of marijuana sales, which would help to build the budgets that go towards important things we need in this country. This is a great incentive for the government to consider legalization at a national level.
Reduce the Cost of the War on Drugs
Make no mistake, there are drugs out there that should never be legalized as they pose major health and safety risks to those who use them as well as those around those people. However, that doesn’t stop people from selling or using. It is important that there are investigations and efforts to stop these drugs from being consumed.
However, these efforts in regard to marijuana are often wasteful and unnecessary. By making marijuana legal, we can help reduce these costs in drug probes and protect people as well who are not a threat or a danger to society for using weed.
Create Millions of Jobs
The marijuana industry is lucrative and this means that there are plenty of opportunities for jobs. From marketing to delivery services to taking care of the dispensaries, there are unlimited employment opportunities for those who need it. Additionally, the legalization of this substance would make it possible for even larger businesses to grow. This would result in the further development and creation of job opportunities.
With this new rush of businesses opening up to take advantage of this fresh market, we could see more jobs available for people of every skill level who are in need of employment.
Cons of Weed
While there are tons of benefits associated with legalizing weed, there are a few key reasons why some people are not too keen on making this drug readily available. Here are some of the cons of legalizing weed.
Creates Big Marijuana Industry
In the tobacco industry, the term “big tobacco” is thrown around quite a bit as a way to describe negative, impactful marketing campaigns that push smoking off as cool, safe, and worth spending money on as people continue to fuel their habits and smoke more as they go on.
Additionally, the varying flavors associated with some cigarette products have led critics to say that some companies target younger individuals in an attempt to get them hooked on substances so that they can begin engaging in the habit and boost profits.
One major concern when it comes to marijuana legalization is that marijuana companies will begin to start using these harmful tactics when the industry experiences growth. Much like smoking tobacco, smoking marijuana is very harmful to minors and is something that people are seeking to avoid. If big marijuana companies went the same route, the varying flavors and “cool” perception of drug use could easily get minors hooked.
The potentially addictive properties of the drug are another problem as well, one that could be dangerous if big companies push the use of the substance despite proof that it is harmful to some individuals. There is also the question of whether or not marijuana does have as many medical benefits as users state. Overall, a large market that is focused solely on profits could prove harmful to society once more.
Americans Support Marijuana Legalization on a Federal Level in America
During the last couple of years, marijuana has witnessed a paradigm shift in the mindset of people. Public support in favor of marijuana legalization scaled all times new heights in 2017 when the results of “Gallup Polls” demonstrated a swing of about 64% on “Yes”.
The unresolved issue is, why is the Govt. is hesitant to legalize marijuana federally?
Some new states have already allowed cannabis to use whereas some more are on the way to marijuana legalization. Even Canada has fully legalized all throughout the country.
On Nov. 6 midterm polls, Michigan became the first Midwestern state & 10th in America to legalize recreational marijuana. The voters approved the proposed measure that allows the herb for recreational use. So did Missouri & Utah voters approve Amendment 2 & Prop 2 respectively. But about 60 % of North Dakota voters disapproved of the marijuana legalization move.
United States Marijuana Legalization
States that don’t favor legalization attach their logic to the psychoactive properties of cannabis that THC owns.
Marijuana is still considered one of the most commonly abused illegal substances. People, who advocate that marijuana should stay prohibited, weigh their opinion on cost scales. According to them, marijuana legalization would cost heavily on state-funded treatments & exchequer.
On the other hand, the legalization of cannabis is going to bring a lot more money than taxpayers. Every state that has legalized has exceeded its projected revenue from marijuana taxes.
Why don’t Federal Govt & some other states favor it?
They support their views by adding that pot is addictive. They further say that cannabis is good for nothing rather it damages the brain. They associate marijuana use with an increased number of patients with serious mental & general health problems.
They also say that even if marijuana is legalized only for adults, the states won’t be able to stop teens or even younger children from using it and the results would be very bad. They base their apprehension on the experiences gained from alcohol & tobacco liberalization.
Advocates favoring prohibition on marijuana use have also apprehended an increase in drug-impaired driving.
Legislatures pass Bills on the political will of the leaders, and not always according to the will of the people. And so, will of the political leaders prevail over the general & legitimate demand of the masses.
Marijuana – A Treasure House of Medicinal Properties
In the states where it’s legal, medical marijuana is emerging as one of the fastest non-conventional medicines.
Even though possessing, processing and using marijuana in any form is illegal at the Federal level, interestingly, the use of medical CBD, a chemical compound of cannabis with non-psychoactive properties, is legal in more than half the states.
States have specified several critical illnesses as eligibility conditions for medical marijuana treatment. These conditions include cancers, HIV/AIDS, Neuro-degenerative disorders like Parkinson’s & Alzheimer’s diseases, PTSD, ADHD, , Diabetes, MS and many more.
As of now, no conventional medicine is available for treating and curing some of these conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, inflammation of neurons, and other neurological disorders. But researchers have found a ray of hope in medical marijuana for treating such crippling and life-threatening diseases.
It’s not that these states have specified such conditions without recognizing or considering the medicinal properties of medical marijuana. Rather, it’s their firm belief based on a series of clinical tests and researches that proves the herb potentially useful for treating those conditions.
Epidiolex – FDA Approved CBD
It’s also not that Federal authorities are unaware of medicinal values that marijuana houses in abundance, rather they are well recognized and accepted by all as well.
Recently, FDA has granted their node to the first CBD-infused drug, Epidiolex, for treating two rare epilepsy-related seizure conditions. This approval adds extra strength to the well-known fact that marijuana works where conventional medicines fail.
Why Should Marijuana Be Legalized at the Federal Level?
Legalizing marijuana use is essential for the nation’s health as a public health policy. Several clinical trials and studies demonstrate that marijuana is potentially useful in pain management. Of all the options that are available with the Federal Govt. for containing the opioid crisis that claims more than 75,000 American lives every year, the best possible solution is replacing opioids with medical marijuana.
The cannabis industry has enormous potentials for generating state revenue & job opportunities. All the states issue licenses and permits for carrying marijuana business. States amass tax revenues and licensee fees amounting to several billion dollars.
Cannabis Jobs and Taxes
Even only a limited number of states have legalized the herb, its expected demand is about $55 billion.
Marijuana sales account for approximately $10 billion. These are expected to touch $20 billion by 2022.
The cannabis industry employs about 1,250,000 full-time workers. The industry is expected to generate about 3,500,000 new job opportunities by 2022.
All these estimated stats are bound to shoot up in multitudes if cannabis is legalized federally.
Ancillary Products and Services
Besides these direct cannabis-based jobs, there are several thousand other people who are associated with the industry via ancillary services and by profession.
Industries that manufacture equipment for cannabis cultivation also provide jobs to thousands of workers.
Marijuana provides a viable substitute to innumerable prescription medicines that harm more through their side effects than providing relief. These side effects result in several critical ill health conditions. They hang heavy on state-funded medical policies and consume a big chunk of the state exchequer by way of medical treatment and insurance claims.
States Legalizing for Medical and Recreational
As of date, the Dist. of Columbia, Guam & Puerto Rico, and 33 States have legalized using marijuana for medicinal purposes or recreation.
Ten states have allowed marijuana use for recreation. These are- Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Dist. of Columbia.
These states allow adults 21 and over to use marijuana for recreation.
Earlier in New Year beginning January 1, 2018, Prop 64 relating to the use of marijuana for recreation came to effect in California. On January 22, Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana via the legislative process. The State legislature passed the Adult Use, Legalization Law.
The states that have launched medical marijuana programs are:
- Alaska – SB 94
- Arizona – Prop 203
- Arkansas – SB 1494
- California – SB 420 & Prop 64
- Colorado – Amendment 64
- Connecticut – HB 5389
- Delaware – SB 17
- Dist. of Columbia – Initiative 71
- Florida – Amendment 2
- Guam – Prop 14A
- Hawaii – SB 862
- Illinois – HB 1
- Louisiana – SB 271
- Maine – LD 1296, Question 1
- Maryland – HB 881, SB 923
- Massachusetts – Question 4
- Michigan – Prop 18
- Minnesota – SF 2471
- Missouri – Amendment 2
- Montana – Initiative 182
- Nevada – Question 2
- New Hampshire – HB 573
- New Jersey – SB 119
- New Mexico – SB 523
- New York – A 6357
- North Dakota – Measure 5
- North Mariana Island – HB 20
- Ohio – HB 523
- Oklahoma – SQ 788
- Oregon – SB 161
- Pennsylvania- SB 3
- Puerto Rico- Regulation 155
- Rhode Island – SB 791, SB 185
- Utah – Prop 2
- Vermont – H 511
- Washington – SB 5023
- West Virginia – SB 386
Marijuana Laws Differ from State to State.
In states that allow it for dual purposes, the law separates medical marijuana from recreational use by a line of demarcation. In most of the legal states, adults of age 21 can buy & use pot for recreation. There is a lower age limit for medical use which is 18.
The laws also differentiate on the quantity that a person can carry for recreation or medical purpose.
Some states also allow cannabis cultivation at home for personal medical use.
Medical vs. Recreational
Some states have broader medical marijuana laws while others have very narrow ones. A common feature seen in marijuana laws is that the decision of whether medical marijuana is to be used or not is left to licensed doctors.
Some states allow only limited use of medical marijuana. Louisiana & West Virginia allow only cannabis-infused products, such as CBD oils or CBD edibles for treating specified conditions.
Some states have very narrow marijuana laws that allow people to carry & use cannabis only if they suffer from specified illnesses.
Some differences can be the difference between edible potency. Recreational marijuana sets limits on edibles while there are fewer restrictions on medical.
People can purchase pots for recreation on their own. However, if they are willing to use it to rid of certain ill-health conditions, they need recommendations from a licensed doctor. Licensed doctors can recommend medical marijuana only for treating the specified conditions.
Legal Marijuana Vs Black Market:
Even in the states where it’s not legal, anti-national & anti-social elements run a parallel black market. They not only cause huge loss of state revenue but also create health hazards for millions.
They supply substandard or even laced products that sometimes prove fatal.
By legalizing, states can wipe out a considerable part of this market that operates under a cover.
Medical Marijuana & Future Policies:
Future drug policies must be realistic and not apprehended. Cannabis is a storehouse of more than 100 chemical compounds. The Discovery of the endocannabinoid system, immune system, and nervous system revealed that cannabis-based cannabinoids resemble in structure & functioning of cannabinoids that our body produces naturally.
When the cannabinoids that our body produces are not harmful, then how can phytocannabinoids be dangerous?
Some medical benefits of marijuana are scientifically proven. The majority of Americans also favor marijuana legalization and some more states may choose to go legal in the next few years. The Govt. should respect the will of the people and legalize weed on a federal level.
10 Things You Need to Know About the Legal Marijuana Industry
If you are an advocate for legalizing marijuana, you’re aware of and support its countless benefits. What once was a questionable practice is now becoming commonplace. Not only does legal marijuana mean advancements in the medical field, but it also expands the job market exponentially.
Are you looking to break into the marijuana industry but are not sure how or where to start? But for now, check out 10 things you should know about the industry as a whole.
The Perception of Marijuana Has Changed for the Better
Although there’s still some negative stigma surrounding the sale of cannabis, positive perception about it is on the rise. This means that marijuana is becoming more widely accepted as a legal, beneficial drug. In fact, some people don’t even view it as a “drug” anymore but instead, a natural resource that offers benefits for conditions like anxiety and depression, cancer, and insomnia, just to name a few. Recreational use is also more widely accepted as cannabis is viewed similarly to alcohol. Marijuana is now more socially acceptable than ever when used in moderation by responsible adults. So if you’re looking to make a name for yourself in the cannabis industry, now is the time.
Legal or Not: Doing Business Can Get Complicated
Just because more and more people have access to legal marijuana (with 30 of the 50 states legalizing its use for medical reasons and another 12 okay-ing recreational marijuana use), it does not mean that running a cannabis business is not without pitfalls. One of the biggest difficulties many marijuana sellers face is properly handling their money and business accounts. That’s because, under federal law, marijuana is still considered an illegal substance and most legal cannabis businesses are cash only. Credit card companies, like banks, rarely want to get involved with this type of business. With cash-only transactions, your business may be subject to robbery and complications come tax time. But it is not all bad news. Because of these caveats, cannabis entrepreneurs are forced to get creative with their finances and consider alternative banking options. Which means an opportunity for advanced thinking.
Understand the Different Types of Cannabis
Before you can consider selling cannabis, you must first understand exactly what it is and what it is not. Cannabis is a term that’s used loosely to describe a broad range of different products, more specifically, hemp and marijuana. Both of these products are often under the category “cannabis” when in fact, they simply stem from the cannabis plant. So, what’s the major difference? Hemp’s active ingredients are known as cannabinoids and include CBD and CBN. Hemp contains very low levels of THC. Marijuana, on the other hand, contains a high concentration of THC, which is the ingredient that provides the “high” that most people associate with marijuana. This means that in order for a product to be labeled as hemp, it must contain a low, predetermined level of THC. Because of these regulations, hemp is somewhat easier to grow and more widely accepted.
The cannabis industry is no different than any other business opportunity to a savvy entrepreneur. It is a market where there’s money to be made. But for those naysayers, it is important to understand the many financial benefits and possibilities that accompany legal marijuana distribution. The marijuana industry is predicted to reach multi-billion dollar status in the next decade. If and when marijuana is legalized across the country, it will open up opportunities for international trade. Job creation has always been one of the country’s greatest economic struggles but the legal cannabis industry has reportedly created hundreds of thousands of jobs. And these numbers are only predicted to rise, positively impacting the world’s economy.
Another added bonus of the economic spike surrounding the cannabis industry is the increase in tax revenue that states can collect. The proceeds from the sale of legal marijuana in states like Colorado and Washington have created substantial tax revenues ranging from $800,000 to nearly $60 million. This is money that is used to directly benefit those states and their local school systems, roads, and other community organizations and needs. One might say that the cannabis industry is a gift that just keeps giving.
There are Multiple Job Possibilities
In terms of becoming employed in the marijuana industry, the job possibilities don’t end with “grower” or “seller”. Like any other market, there are many cogs in the machine that keep a cannabis business running smoothly. These include content creators and web designers of cannabis websites. The cannabis industry also has cultivators, marketers, lab technicians, and distribution clerks. Do not be fooled into thinking that cannabis companies are run by a group of millennial “potheads”. The marijuana business is run much like any other business. There are accountants, receptionists, software developers, IT directors, and sales reps, just to name a few.
Understand That You are a Professional
With that being said, if you want respect and want to be taken seriously in the cannabis industry, you must carry yourself as such. There is already plenty of skepticism and negativity surrounding the legalization and distribution of marijuana for both medical and recreational use. There is no need to give the cynics even more ammunition. Don’t fall into that “stoner” stereotype. Disprove these beliefs and carry yourself in a professional manner. One of the best tools against critics is knowledge. Become an informed and efficient business person. This will help you gain the respect you need to succeed.
Competition is Fierce
Because the marijuana industry is on the rise and virtually has nowhere to go but up, the competition is fierce. This means that like any other industry, you need to stand out from the rest. What are you doing differently than no one else is? What makes your product better? How are you going to make your mark on the industry? But not all competition should be viewed as a threat. With competition comes innovation. You may even see a dip in product cost, overhead, and a rise in the quality of cannabis as it is cultivated around the world. Another reason for improved quality is that states now regulate legal marijuana, including its purity and safety. This means fewer overdoses (technically, no one can overdose with marijuana) and adverse reactions to unknown substances found in illegal marijuana.
Learn How to Network
The cannabis industry, while fierce and competitive, is all about networking. Because many cannabis businesses are up and coming, longevity is not common. This means that you must learn as much as you possibly can, then use that knowledge and experience wherever it will take you. Form working relationships and make connections whenever possible. You can also take advantage of countless resources available that help you meet and collaborate with other professionals in the field. For example, the Association of Cannabis Professionals (ACP) offers workshops, updated law information, expert panels, and sneak peeks into up-and-coming technology. This is invaluable information and the perfect place to network with fellow cannabis entrepreneurs. Other helpful organizations to take part in include The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) and Ganjapreneur.
Stay Up to Date on Changing Trends and Laws
Not only will you gain invaluable connections through networking but it also provides access to the most up-to-date information in your field, which is vital for success. With any new and evolving business, the cannabis industry is constantly changing and progressing. You need to stay on top of the changing trends, technology, and methods. More importantly, understanding the laws associated with legalized marijuana sale and distribution is imperative. There’s no room for error when it comes to dealing with potentially illegal substances. This means staying compliant at all times.
Just because you’re interested in the cannabis industry does not mean that you have to be a cannabis user yourself. While hands-on experience and knowledge may be helpful, the industry lends itself to countless job opportunities and possibilities. But like any new business venture, you need to educate yourself about how the industry works, the laws associated with it, and who your competition is. These elements are the foundation of a potentially lucrative and successful marijuana business.
As you can see from the above, there are both pros and cons of weed. However, we see many more benefits than we do disadvantages and this is slowly leading more states to push laws that legalize the herb and hopefully lead the nation to do the same. If you are curious as to why weed is illegal and why these laws should be thrown out, use the information above to learn more about the status of weed in our country and where it may go in the future.