For decades marijuana has been considered a dangerous drug and has been illegal to use, sell, or possess. But many state laws are in flux. To date, twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing marijuana in some form. In fact, eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
So what’s changed? Is legalizing marijuana a good thing? What are the pros and the cons? Below are the seven things that you must know about the legalization of marijuana.
- As states look for creative ways to increase revenues without raising taxes on individuals, the legalization of marijuana has become one solution. To put this in perspective, through October of 2016 Colorado reported roughly $1.1 billion in legal sales of medical and recreational marijuana and related products and collected more than $150 million in taxes from these sales.
- The legalization of medical marijuana has been a positive for patients. It is believed that marijuana is effective in treating a number of medical conditions, including Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. It is also believed to be beneficial for cancer patients in relation to chemotherapy related nausea and vomiting as well as cancer related pain.
- The legalization of marijuana creates jobs. An analysis from the Marijuana Policy Group shows that in 2015 the legal marijuana industry created 18,005 jobs. That makes the marijuana industry a stronger economic driver than 90% of the industries in Colorado.
- It’s argued that the legalization of marijuana provides law enforcement with more time and money to focus on violent offenders. In states where the simple possession of marijuana is illegal, it is estimated that each simple possession arrest costs the criminal justice system $300 to adjudicate.
- Legalized marijuana does not mean marijuana can be used in public. State laws typically limit where marijuana can be consumed, and a violation typically leads to a civil citation being issued.
- Colorado’s neighboring states, Oklahoma and Nebraska, sued Colorado in December 2014 hoping to get the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene with Colorado’s marijuana industry. Their complaint was that marijuana purchased legally in Colorado is being transported illegally into or through their states, overwhelming police and courts with the increased drug arrests in their states. They argue that an ounce of high quality marijuana purchased legally in Colorado for $200 sells for three times that on the black market in states where marijuana is illegal.
- Although many states have legalized marijuana for medical use, the marijuana plant is not an FDA approved medicine. However, its chemicals know as cannabinoids has led to two FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form.
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