Steve Chapman, the writer and editorial columnist pens his views on how America has seen the rise of legal marijuana for medical use and recreation in the past 4 decades and a half. The controversy has been on since 1971, when the war on drugs began, and looks like the present decade has clear winner – marijuana.
At present, 29 American states have already legalized medical marijuana, out of which 4 states have also legalized it for recreational use as well. Despite being such controversial an issue, it won’t be wrong to say that legal marijuana is the norm.
The Recent Indicators of Support of Marijuana for Medical Use
The Democrats running for governor election in Illinois revealed the level to which marijuana is gaining ground. Despite the fact that Illinois got its first medical marijuana dispensary as late as 2015, today most cons testing candidates support legalization of marijuana for recreation as well. One even went to the extent of supporting total decriminalization of possession of weed.
From 2005 to 2016 the support for marijuana for as medicine and for recreation has gone up manifold (from 36% vote in 2005 to 60% in the Gallop Poll in 2016). In 2016 as many as 9 states in the United States of America put initiatives to legalize cannabis on the ballot. Out of these 4 states, only Arizona saw a disappointment in is recreational pot initiative. 4 states won the legalization of marijuana as medicine and 4 as recreational drug.
2017 only looks so much more promising than even the last year. Marijuana Business Daily reports that “Campaigns are underway in at least five states to legalize either medical or recreational cannabis.” Apart from this, Rhode Island, Vermont, And New Jersey could also legalize recreational cannabis soon.
The Reason for the Victory
Since 1971, the opponents of marijuana legalization have been of the opinion that such an action could lead to nothing but disaster. However, the actual experience after the implementation of legalization of marijuana for medical use has been a noted one as the results indicate contrary to apprehensions. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. had noted “A page of history is worth a volume of logic.” This is precisely the history that cannabis is making.
To support these facts is another observation. Studies indicate that the legalization of recreational cannabis in Colorado hasn’t led to any increase whatsoever in use by adolescents or in marijuana related fatalities. With the legalization of marijuana in 2012, crime rates continued declining thereafter; and the closing down of marijuana dispensary, the crime rate escalated instead of falling.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine revealed this year that there is “substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults.” This fact has, in fact, brought down the rates of deaths caused by opioid abuse.
As a matter of fact, if managed right, the state governments could actually end up saving a lot on Medicaid and health care programs, by the use of marijuana as medicine that can replace expensive medication. And, the newly levied taxes on production, sales and use of marijuana are actually (in states like Colorado) paying for (mental) health and education programs. You’d be astonished to learn that Washington grosses as much as around $250 million a year from marijuana taxes.
Marijuana is indeed the norm.