If You Still Don’t Think Marijuana Should Be Legal, It’s Time to Wake Up
Marijuana has been an illegal substance in the United States for many decades. The possession or sale of marijuana became illegal with the passage of The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. The act was declared constitutional in later years, but marijuana was officially outlawed for any use in 1970 with the passage of the Controlled Substances Act. Nowadays, at least several million Americans use marijuana, and the stigma behind its usage has quickly been dissipating in recent years.
The three most popular strains of marijuana are cannabis indica (which has sedating effects), cannabis sativa (which has uplifting effects), and hybrid cannabis (which combines the effects of both indica and sativa). CBD (cannabidiol) is the least controversial form of marijuana because it derives from the hemp plant and contains less than 0.3% THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that produces the feeling of being high. Therefore, CBD is legal on the federal level (although it can still be regulated by individual states). You can find CBD everywhere these days, from edibles to tinctures (liquid droppers) to salves. However, the kinds of marijuana that are still illegal on the federal level may be a bit harder to come by, depending on where you live. Here are some of the reasons that all forms of marijuana should be legal on a national level.
- A majority of Americans support legalization. Public support for legalizing marijuana has grown significantly in the last few decades. A 2019 Pew Research poll revealed that 91% of Americans support the legalization of marijuana for medical or recreational use. Although marijuana usage is still illegal under federal law, multiple states have already passed laws legalizing it. National legalization almost became a reality in December 2020, when the House passed a bill that would legalize marijuana, but it later died in the Senate. Still, the speed of legalization in numerous states reflects the rapid rate of growing support amongst Americans.
- Marijuana prohibition stems from racism and xenophobia. Despite cannabis having a history of medicinal and therapeutic usage across many cultures dating back to ancient times, cultural, financial, and political factors led to its ban in the 20th century. When the possession or transfer of marijuana was first made illegal in 1937 with the Marihuana Tax Act, it was due in large part to lies propagated by the media and government about immigrants, the lower class, and people of color. Politicians and reporters pushed racist rhetoric that fed into people’s fears, swaying the public toward negative ideas about marijuana based on fabricated stories.
- Marijuana is no more dangerous than other drugs. Many of the long-standing stereotypes of marijuana usage are being disproven. Rather than being a gateway drug and leading to the usage of more harmful drugs, marijuana can act more like an “exit” drug by preventing or helping with substance abuse disorders such as opiate addiction. Alcohol, which has been legal since its prohibition was repealed in 1933, leads to more than 95,000 deaths in the United States each year, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention States. Many drug experts argue that alcohol is more harmful than crack or heroin, and it has been linked to more health problems and led to more deaths than marijuana. Yet alcohol carries a lesser stigma in society because it is legal.
- Marijuana has many medicinal benefits. Not only is marijuana not as harmful as other drugs, but it actually has many medical and therapeutic benefits. Medical marijuana, or medical cannabis, can help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression, relieve nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, reduce inflammation, control some types of seizures, relieve symptoms of PTSD, help with pain management and muscle spasms, and more. States that allow medical marijuana will allow its usage by people who have a qualifying condition, including Alzheimer’s, ALS, cancer, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s, epilepsy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms, Parkinson’s, seizures, and severe nausea and pain.
- Legalization can benefit society as a whole. Legalizing marijuana for medicinal and recreational usage will benefit America in numerous ways. The regulated commercial availability of marijuana can lead to a huge increase in federal, state, and local tax revenues. Along with helping to grow the economy, legalizing marijuana leads to more jobs being created, lower crime and better reallocation of police resources, and a reduction in racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests (marijuana usage is nearly the same among black people and white people, but black people are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for possession).
There are definitely still existing concerns that legalizing marijuana could cause more harm than good, but the support from the majority of Americans is quickly quelling those fears and making legalization more of a reality. People of all ages, classes, and races quietly partake in cannabis daily while hiding in backyards and garages. It is time to make marijuana legal for medical and recreational usage on a federal level so that people can enjoy its many benefits without the fear and stigma of breaking the law.