The push to legalize marijuana is happening in more states that just Washington and Colorado. As the marijuana legalization movement gains more momentum, what was unthinkable even 20 years ago has now become a strong and worthy consideration.
Public acceptance, or maybe even a better overall understanding of the drug and its effects, has led to more relaxed policies regarding its use. Legalization is no longer a "giving in to the evils of pot" and more of a renewed effort to go after society's greater ills like alcoholism and heavy drug use. In essence, the effects of smoking pot are no longer perceived to be as much of a public health hazard as cocaine use or tripping out on LSD.
There are many reasons to legalize marijuana. Starting with these 10 reasons, some humorous and some serious, a strong case can be made for legalizing marijuana.
10 Your Team Can Reach a Super Bowl!
When the Denver Broncos met the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII (Super Bowl 48), one of the more interesting coincidences was that both teams represented states where marijuana was legalized for recreational use. Many talk shows and television takes seemed to make a reference to this rare coincidence. Maybe its about the fans who rabidly support their teams or the players in the Seattle secondary who have been known to smoke a little following a practice.
The "Stoner Bowl 2014" actually had some groups questioning why the NFL has such a strict policy against marijuana use. Maybe it is just coincidence, maybe it is the result of getting a "contact high" from breathing second-hand smoke, or maybe they feel like the don't want to let their fans "down," so the teams from Washington and Colorado happened to be the best teams from last year. I can't imagine residents in California getting too upset about the 49ers facing the Chargers in a future Super Bowl.
9 Better Appetite
Many people are working longer hours and doing their best to either not lose their edge or make sure they don't become a position on the staff worth eliminating. The resulting stress has more than likely had its effect with fatigue that can lead to fast food consumption or even worse, no eating at all during the course of a day. Marijuana has long been considered by many to have a useful effect on stimulating the appetite.
Research has confirmed that marijuana stimulates the appetite, but its mechanism of action is still relatively unknown. Other studies, on the other hand, have indicated that prolonged use of marijuana actually leads to less obesity and more stable weight control. Anything that can combat one of the great public health concerns of our current era, obesity, is worth considering for that reason alone.
8 A Resurgence in the Arts
Given enough time, let's consider some possibilities that might arise from the legalization of marijuana. What if we start to have a renaissance of music that extends beyond the rather basic persistent beat and vulgar lyrics that are a staple of most rap music today, just an example for that genre. Music and marijuana have always been a good match like a Mint Julep and the Kentucky Derby.
Marijuana might be considered by many to dull a user's acuity and sensations, while also leading to laziness, but others believe it inspires them to step outside the box and become more creative. Only time will tell which theory is closer to being correct, but its a little funny how even in the rap world, Snoop Dogg (or Snoop Lion) who glamorizes smoking pot, has created his own reggae inspired delivery that makes him stand out as an artist in the ultra-competitive rap community.
7 Marijuana is Not Necessarily a "Gateway Drug"
For many years, marijuana has been labeled a "gateway drug" that leads to the consumption of stronger drugs shortly after establishing consistency with its use. Scientists from London, Amsterdam and even in the US conducting an American Journal of Public Health Study (Golub & Johnson 2001), have all been unable to establish a link between cannabis and its promotion of a "gateway effect" leading to further drug abuse.
The truth may be somewhere in between. Marijuana might not lead to further addictions, but people with addictive behaviors probably have had experiences with marijuana at one point in their lives. The fact is that marijuana simply is not strong enough or does not have the mind altering effects that harder drugs all seem to have. That only seems to support marijuana as being less harmful than drinking or using harder drugs (cocaine, crystal meth or LSD). The "gateway" could even be partly due to the fact that it is illegal and attracts users already intent on using more illicit drugs, but feel like they need to test the water with pot first.
6 Marijuana Has Medicinal Benefits
Legalizing marijuana will also help more people, who could benefit from its medicinal use, feel better about obtaining it without feeling like criminals. The benefits of marijuana as a pain reliever, appetite inducer, stress reducer and even in some cases, a muscle relaxer, have all been well-documented. Many of these potential users are only waiting for widespread approval before attempting to acquire the drug legally.
Marijuana even has the potential to treat alcoholism. There are currently around 1,400 annual alcohol related deaths in the state of Colorado (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) alone. On the other hand, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't even have a category for marijuana related deaths. At this point in time, replacing alcohol with marijuana could potentially save some lives by reducing alcohol fueled hostility, poor judgement, impaired operation of vehicles and machinery and depression.
5 More Efficient and Effective Law Enforcement
The lucrative black market for marijuana has resulted in a glut of convicted criminals, who would otherwise be good law-abiding citizens, crowding the jails and the court system. Cartels in Mexico have already been jockeying for position in the shrinking market as the push for legalization in states like California looms. Imagine the significant reduction of the black market for marijuana and how law enforcement will be able to shift more resources towards eradicating harder drugs like crack, crystal meth and cocaine.
The potential savings and effect on law enforcement that currently routinely sweeps and raids Northern California marijuana growing regions, will be huge. Registered growers will be regulated and in turn reduce the sheer number of illegal growers at the same time. Having so many legal growers and dispensaries to sell marijuana will make it harder for illegal growers and sellers to make a decent profit, allowing law enforcement agencies to concentrate on the trafficking of more illicit drugs.
4 It Will Help Expand the Economy
Legalizing marijuana will open up a huge new market that can create many new jobs, especially in a big state like California. Consider how hard the crash of the housing market hit the state of California and the Great Recession then came along and wiped out many jobs. The state of California has already proven to be a fertile growing region for marijuana and legalizing it will create a whole new industry. Imagine how a lucrative marijuana market would create more jobs for legal and financial services, transportation and not to mention the staffing of dispensaries.
Legalization of marijuana will help many of the farmers in the region establish legitimate businesses with the capability of hiring employees and kicking in employment taxes, licensing fees, sales tax and any other levies that might be proposed. Dispensaries, complete with lineups of baked goods, therapeutic lotions, candies and smoking implements will be selling goods produced by new businesses. Even growing supplies, packaging supplies, security cameras, glass jars, scales, computers and the leasing of vacant office space will all be needed to operate all the dispensaries.
3 It Could Help Revive Several Key Industries
Ready for the rebirth of the home entertainment industry that has taken its share of lumps in the past few years? Video games sales, computer sales and upgrades and even purchases of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles could likely increase as more pot smokers look for more ways to entertain themselves. Likewise, Netflix subscriptions, Blu Ray sales and even social media traffic could easily increase as a result of more widespread marijuana usage. Imagine the comeback of convenience stores, pizza delivery and even more of a demand for fast food that could help offset the nationwide push to increase the minimum wage.
The outdoors industry could also experience more growth as people buy gear for camping, diving, mountain biking, kayaking or surfing, replacing the treadmill or exercise machines that currently gather dust in the back corners of many garages. A new class of consumers will get suckered into thinking that they deserve to buy new toys in order to have more options available to enjoy their free time.
2 It Will Provide Tax Revenue
Legalizing marijuana might still seem extreme to those who have issues with the drug, but one thing both parties including the most staunch conservatives must admit is that there is nothing ugly about the color green. The price people are willing to pay for the sticky flowers (buds) of the beautiful green marijuana plants can certainly translate to tax revenue.
The state of Colorado raked in an extra $22 million in 2013 from licenses and fees in the state's first year of legalization. Estimates put anticipated tax revenues at just over $110 million for 2014. A study by the California Board of Equalization, estimated that the state could generate $1.4 billion in revenue from the legalization of marijuana. Considering that another study indicated that California's growing industry produces around 8.6 million pounds of marijuana per year with a street value of $13.8 billion, the untapped potential tax revenue is quite large. States that do not have the mastery of growing like California can consider levying tariffs on imported pot to allow local growers to establish themselves.
1 More Patience, Less Violence
Smoking pot is actually more about meeting up with friends to play video games or hanging out in a non-threatening manner, while drinking seems to rub many people the wrong way. How many fights are started by the "stoner" in the corner as opposed to the liquored up jilted lover who is looking for trouble? We have permitted the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages even though alcohol has been psychologically labelled a depressant. Peace and harmony, love thy neighbor and more of a sense of community might be the outcome from more people smoking pot.
Alcohol consumption has been glamorized in our culture and addiction to alcohol has been starting at earlier ages. It has been causing problems at school, breaking up families with violence, leading to depression with our youth and increasing the risk of having them become a new teen suicide statistic. Marijuana inevitably leads to more patience in social situations, while alcohol typically leads to more confrontation and ultimately acts of violence.