Reasons Why Widespread Legalization Needs to Happen
By Rolling Up
The legalization of marijuana remains a controversial subject. Prohibition has posed more problems in the cannabis sphere. Prohibition hasn’t worked for marijuana and the system works against its own people. Marijuana use is mainstream and widespread today. In 1937, when the federal government prohibited the use relatively few Americans had heard of marijuana. More Americans are experimenting and discovering the health benefits behind cannabis. Here are some of the reasons why widespread legalization of marijuana needs to happen:
- Many innocent people have been locked up for cannabis for very small crimes. Arresting marijuana offenders prevents police from focusing on real crime. In 2018 alone, the FBI reported more than 660,000 marijuana arrests and citations. The number is higher than all the crimes combined.
- Prohibition sends an incredible number of Americans through the criminal justice system, ruining countless lives and taking people from their families. According to the FBI, there have been more than 15 million marijuana arrests in the U.S. since 1995. While marijuana consumers who were not convicted have gone on to be president or Supreme Court justice, a criminal conviction can stand in the way of securing a job, getting housing, or receiving a professional license, student loan, food assistance, driver’s license, or firearms permit.
- According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), African Americans are more than 3.5 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites nationwide, despite similar rates of use. This is a disproportionate number that needs to end. This is rooted in systemic racism in American history.
- Despite skepticism, replacing marijuana prohibition with regulation does not increase rates of teen marijuana use. According to the most comprehensive government surveys in each state, no state that legalized marijuana for adults has seen an overall increase in teens’ rates of marijuana use outside of the confidence interval.
- Marijuana creates more violence between buyers and sellers in underground markets. As was the case during alcohol prohibition, driving this lucrative market underground results in violence. Both buyers and sellers are vulnerable to assault when disputes cannot be solved lawfully, in courts.
- Regulation allows for control. Unlike licensed businesses in states that regulate cannabis, illicit marijuana sellers operate virtually anywhere and have no incentive not to sell to minors. Prohibition guarantees that marijuana will not be tested for purity and potency, creating the risk of contamination.
- Prohibition contributes to pollution and the effects of the environment. Illicit marijuana growers sometimes use banned pesticides, divert waterways, and leave hazardous waste in public spaces, such as protected national parks.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 30,000 alcohol-induced deaths per year, including more than 2,000 from acute overdose. This number supports that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. Zero deaths have been reported in history due to marijuana.
As you can see, there are plenty of justifiable reasons to end prohibition of marijuana in the United States. In the next decade we should expect to see more state by state level basis. Sooner or later, the federal government will have to make the decision to legalize marijuana with many challenges. States will have to lead the way until federal lawmakers are on board. It’s a slow change and won’t happen overnight.