Journey to legalize continues; will all states climb aboard

“I don’t love marijuana. I’d rather people not use it heavily. But it’s vastly safer than people becoming addicted to opiates like heroin. And, our criminalization of it seems stupid and racist, particularly now that it’s legal in some states. We should proceed with full legalization of marijuana and pardon those in jail for nonviolent marijuana-related offenses.”- Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang (D)

Marijuana legalization has been more than simply a pressing issue in recent years, as it has become legalized in 11 states for adults 21 and over and labeled as medically legal in 33 states.

In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, just last year, 67 percent of Americans supported legalization while only 33 percent were against it. 

And, unlike other more recent debates between Republicans and Democrats, where votes are either extremely close or split down the middle, there is no decisive number of legislators who are for and against marijuana legalization in either of the political parties. 

Furthermore, as there are so many different routes of legalization, this particular issue remains up in the air. Some states support recreational use of marijuana, other states only want the medical and “beneficial” usage, and then there are the states who are completely for all use and those who are completely against legalization.

Yet, in recent years there has been greater support for full legalization in several states, clearly seen, as legalized recreational and medical grade dispensaries are popping up across the country. There are lawmakers, doctors and others who are qualified to speak about the true statistics of marijuana use that do believe cannabis products could replace some painkillers, directly combating the country’s current opioid crisis . In other words, edible “medicines” created from cannabis will allow patients a non addictive alternative to the highly addictive opioids.  

Although some states are beginning to pardon those rotting in jail for charges related to marijuana, the drug is still federally listed as a Class One drug, placing it in the same category as “meth” or heroin.  People caught with excessive amounts of the drug or even smaller amounts are still deemed criminals and the charge is still labeled with the stigma of “intent to distribute”.

Due to the dated belief system that marijuana smokers are likely to sit on the couch and play video games for the rest of their lives does hinder future success in regard to legalization. This same dated belief system still carries the stigma that all strains of marijuana remain a serious and life threatening, damaging drug that simply alters one’s actions and state of mind, as well as increases the number of  overdoses and any number of human related accidents.

Of course these ancient beliefs, mostly related to those on the farthest ends of the political spectrum, do hinder the future success of legalization in all states.   

The exact effects of cannabis over time is unknown and it can and does affect everyone differently, just as any other drug’s side effects. However, what is known is that drug usage in this country, whether the talk is related to hard drugs, alcohol, or opioid addiction, seems much more casual for the companies and benefactors that produce and celebrate the billions of dollars their “goods” bring in despite the fact that are the main cause of many more death related incidents. 

In fact, according to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, there are countries, such as Portugal, that have completely decriminalized all drugs and, overall, have less of a drug “epidemic” than in America. Modeling our legalization practices after countries such as Portugal, may help the the United States adjust and rid the naysayers of their current belief system. 

It seems obvious to many that marijuana should no longer be deemed a “gateway” drug. Nearly all 50 states agree that its benefits, whether recreational or medicinal, far outweigh the “older” generations’ common negative beliefs that are quickly falling by the wayside.

Thus, marijuana, or cannabis, in its many forms, should be legalized due to the overabundance of evidence for not only its future in medicine, but simply because it’s far less dangerous than many drugs already legalized. 



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