Long-time marijuana smokers and activists are on the front lines of cannabis legalization. For them, each new law passed in North America and around the world that allows the medicinal and recreational use of cannabis is a hard-earned step in the right direction.
But not everyone shares this passion. There are millions of marijuana users, but there are still millions of other people who either don't participate in the discussion or are downright against legalization in all its forms. For them, the legalization of marijuana in American states and throughout Canada is a big blow to the war on drugs.
Even if you have no opinion about marijuana use, it's hard to ignore the thousands of news stories and studies emerging about the decriminalization and legalization of one of the most debated drugs in the world. The open and widespread use of pot is new ground for many individuals, and it's a whole new world for the U.S.A., so here are 20 facts about marijuana legalization many of you may not know.
20 Cannabis Still Illegal Under Federal law
Many are confused about the legal status of cannabis. Although certain states have legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, it’s still not legal under federal law. Buying and smoking pot in one state may be illegal in another. Even some municipalities of legalized states have certain prohibitions on cannabis use.
Fortunately for avid pot users, the federal government does not intervene in state laws, and President Obama has said that the Department of Justice will not challenge states as long as they adhere to their respective rules.
19 Legalized Pot Doesn't Mean More Pot Users
If pot is legalized, won't more people start smoking it? Not necessarily.
There have been a number of studies about the link between medicinal and recreation pot and overall use. But, according to Vox who surveyed these studies, there is no conclusive evidence to support either claim. Some studies suggest that legalized pot makes it only slightly easier to purchase than on the black market. The legalization of marijuana is something very new for America and Canada, and the long-term social effects are still unknown.
18 Canada - 15 Licensed Cannabis Growers
Unlike the U.S., Canada’s medical program is run federally rather than on a state-by-state (or provincial) basis. If decriminalization and medicinal laws are passed, they apply more or less throughout the entire country.
However, there are only 15 fully licensed growers of dried cannabis throughout Canada, including Broken Coast Cannabis and MedReleaf Corp. The Canadian criteria for a commercial license is incredibly difficult and companies must pass regular Health Canada inspections.
17 Government Regulated Pot Is Safer
Illegal marijuana markets are more likely to be unsafe to the average consumer. Without government regulations, black market pot can contain nasty chemicals that are easily accessible by both minor and adult users. However, regulated marijuana is overseen by the FDA, just like any other drug or food product, ensuring marijuana products adhere to strict safety standards while virtually removing the product from the black market.
16 Denver, Colorado - Burglaries And Robberies Are Down
In the past, the vast majority of politicians and citizens were convinced that drug use is inherently connected to crime—the more drugs people use, the higher the crime rates will be.
However, the legalization of marijuana is showing some positive effects. For example, in Denver where open cannabis use is legal, burglaries and robberies are down according to Denver Police.
15 Teen Pot Smoking is Up, Cigarettes And Alcohol Down
The Monitoring the Future Survey looked in-depth at American drug use and found that marijuana use is more common than cigarettes or alcohol among senior high school students — the use of potentially harmful cigarettes and alcohol are down.
In addition, the abuse of prescription drugs are either stable or declining. For some, teen marijuana use may seem bad, but the majority of existing health data reveals that marijuana smoke is much safer than cigarette smoke.
14 Strict Advertising Guidelines
One of the biggest myths about legalized marijuana is the laws don’t have guidelines or rules about how cannabis products are packaged and advertised. However, there are strict limitations on commercial marijuana advertising.
In fact, they are almost the same as the restrictions for beer, wine, liquor and cigarettes. For example, marijuana is not allowed to be advertised to anyone under 21-years old, the legal age to purchase cannabis.
13 Highways May Be Safer
With cannabis legalized, many people assume more drivers will be high on the road and car accidents will go up, just like drunk driving. However, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation, highway fatalities are lower since the full legalization of marijuana.
Many people argue this is because the intoxicating affects of pot are very different than alcohol and that, while high, drivers may be more focused. Regardless, the driving laws are the same as with alcohol—driving under the influence in any way is strictly illegal.
12 Hundreds Of Marijuana Products
One of the biggest deterrents of smoking pot is, well, the smoking itself. Whether it’s marijuana or cigarettes, smoking any combustible matter is not healthy and has some nasty side effects.
However, the legal marijuana industry has pioneered hundreds of ways to ingest marijuana without smoking, including THC pills, e-vaporizers, juices, chocolates, sprays, lozenges and many, many more. This means marijuana producers can diversify and branch out into dozens of other safe industries, creating more interest and generating more tax dollars.
11 6% Of Studies Investigate Cannabis Benefits
The legalization of pot opens new doors to research the potential health benefits (and risks) of widespread cannabis consumption. Old restrictions have been lifted and it is a lot easier for researchers to get their hands on steady supplies.
Many scientists are jumping at the chance to study the drug, because about only 6% of the current studies of marijuana investigate its health benefits rather than its risks.
10 B.C. - Most Canadian Pot Smokers
British Columbia, Canada, is home to world famous B.C. bud, reportedly some the best cannabis found on the market. It’s no surprise then that B.C. has the most Canadian pot smokers and the most citizens who favor total legalization of recreational cannabis. More than 70% of its residents support legalizing and decriminalizing pot.
9 $1B+ Industry
A big reason American states and countries as a whole support marijuana legalization is the massive amount of potential tax dollars. The Drug Policy Alliance estimated that California alone could raise nearly $1.5 billion a year in extra revenue. They also estimate that if marijuana were legalized federally, the national industry could be three times bigger than the NFL—all dollars that could be taxed and reinvested into the country.
8 $5K Per Plant
According to some marijuana producers, just one plant can be worth up to $5,000 if it can yield up to 2 pounds of bud. That is a big pay day for small-time growers, but for the large corporate growers who can produce hundreds of plants, more legalization can bring in large amounts of revenue, making new private business owners rich without breaking the law. No harm, no foul.
7 30% Tax On Recreational Cannabis
A big reason why the marijuana industry is valued so high is that recreational marijuana is sold with an incredible mark-up. Not only is it taxed at around 30%, one gram of cannabis is priced at $20, about double the street price.
However, medical marijuana tax is much lower, to accommodate those suffering from illnesses. Such high taxes often force people to buy off the street where it’s cheaper but less well-controlled.
6 Colorado - $30M In First Six Months
Although cannabis sales are valued at more than a billion dollars, the first six months of marijuana legalization in Colorado saw only $30 million of tax revenue. Some anti-legalization activists see this number as a sign that the legalization of cannabis isn't all that it’s cracked up to be, and people should be weary about the economic and political effects of open cannabis consumption.
5 25% Decrease In Prescription Drug Deaths
CTV News have reported that a 2014 poll revealed that there is a 25% decrease in deaths caused by overdose on prescription medication in the areas where marijuana has been legalised.
With the widespread legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana, states are seeing a dramatic decrease in the abuse of other drugs across all ages.
4 Medical Marijuana Legal In 23 States
Almost half of the United States has legalized cannabis for medicinal use—23 states in total. That means patients with a doctor’s signature can purchase prescription marijuana grown by licensed growers to treat illnesses from depression to multiple sclerosis.
3 60% of Canadians Support Total Legalization
America’s friendly neighbor to the north is no stranger to smoking and growing pot. Some might say that Canada is one of the leading pioneers of growing some of the best bud in the world. According to Toronto-based Forum Research Inc., 66% of Canadians favour the legalization or decriminalization of cannabis. Perhaps oddly, respondents aged 55 to 64 were the most likely to support legalization and people even older voted for some legal reform. The poll suggests it’s not just teens and young adults who smoke—it’s the elderly too.
2 75% Of Americans Favor No Medical Raids
In 2012, not long before cannabis was legalized in certain American states, an overwhelming number of Americans voted against police raids of state-based cannabis growing operations.
The poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, and reveals 74% of people urge Obama to respect the marijuana laws of individual states. It is statistically evident that the majority of Americans are for legal cannabis production, at least for medicinal use.
1 56% of Americans Support Total Legalization
The majority of Americans support the legalization of cannabis for medicinal and recreational use—that is, that cannabis should be regulated like cigarettes and alcohol, and that it should not be a crime to consume it in the privacy of one's home.
It’s not the biggest margin of majority at about 56%, but pot activists around the country take this majority vote as a sign that the dominant voice in favour of pot legalisation is on the rise.
According to telephone surveys by Likely Voters, 36% voted not to legalize it. Times are certainly changing, and Americans don't fear cannabis as they once did.