Weed has been a controversial topic since the early 1900s when it became illegal (to keep Mexicans from immigrating to the U.S.) and has come back to the forefront of political debates. It has been legalized in 29 states in one way or another. In Florida, medical marijuana was legalized in the 2016 election, but it has been a slow journey creating regulations and red tape for potential dispensaries to cut through. However, despite what Jeff Sessions would tell you, there are many benefits to legalizing marijuana.
1. Marijuana has medicinal qualities.
Recent research has shown that marijuana can be used to cure a variety of ailments. In the 1800s, it was used to help with stomach aches; now it can help with anxiety, depression, arthritis, and has been shown to stop seizures. It is also non-addictive, unlike most prescription pain medicine. So, by making medical marijuana less accessible, we are actually hurting people who may benefit from its medicinal purposes.
2. The tax revenue from recreational marijuana will go back into the community.
Just in the first few months of 2018, Colorado has made $42,816,302 in tax revenue from marijuana alone. By legalizing recreational marijuana and taxing it, states can put that money into schools in lower income areas, rather than depending on property taxes. By having good schools, we can increase high school graduation rates and college attendance rates which will, in turn, decrease crime in those areas.
3. The marijuana industry will create jobs.
In order to run a marijuana dispensary, you need cashiers, stockers, managers, and anyone else it takes to run a store. In addition, there also needs to be marijuana farmers and everyone it takes to run a farm. Also, people to transport to the marijuana from the farm to the store. Basically, by legalizing marijuana, we could create more than 300,000 jobs by 2020.
4. There will be less crime.
Okay, the lack of crimes would all be marijuana-related, but this is still a good thing. Roughly 750,000 arrests made are marijuana-related and about 400,000 inmates in federal and state prisons are in for marijuana-related crimes. And a disproportionate amount of these people are African American. Just imagine how many of your tax dollars are going to holding non-violent pot dealers in prisons.
Now, remembering that the criminalization of marijuana has a lot to do with racism, it seems ridiculous that the government is refusing these benefits just to keep fighting the losing war on drugs. Unfortunately, it looks like we have a long way to go before marijuana is legalized nationwide but right now, it is important to contact your representatives and start lobbying for the benefits of legalized marijuana.